Dutch Health Insurance: a guide for foreign employees


Everyone living and working in the Netherlands must have a health insurance. It is important to familiarise yourself with the local healthcare system as it may differ from the one in your home country.

Dutch healthcare system.

Dutch healthcare system is recognised as the best in Europe and 5th best in the world. Patients get the top medical specialists, good infrastructure and freedom to choose whom to buy health insurance from and where to get healthcare services.

In the Netherlands, the government is not in charge of the day-to-day management of the healthcare system. Only for the accessibility and quality of the healthcare. Meanwhile the services are provided by private health suppliers.

Like in many countries, Dutch healthcare system is divided into public and private.

Public health insurance.

There are two schemes of public Dutch health insurance:

  • ZVW (Zorgverzekeringswet) is the basic insurance package mandatory for all Dutch residents. Insurance companies have to offer the same public policy to everyone regardless of age or state of health.
  • The second form, AWBZ (Algemene Wet Bijzondere Ziektekosten), covers long-term nursing and care treatment. It is provided automatically and funded by deductions from your salary.

The basic package covers the most of healthcare needs:

  • Community nursing services
  • GPs, hospitals, medical specialists and obstetricians
  • Dental care until the age of 18
  • Hospital stay
  • Paramedical care and patient transport
  • Primary and secondary mental health
  • Physiotherapy up to the age of 18
  • Speech therapy
  • Up to three sessions with dietitian
  • Up to three IVF programmes
  • Various prescription medicines

Private health insurance.

If you are not covered by the Dutch public health insurance or you want to take out cover for extra treatments, such as extensive dental care or physiotherapy, then you will have to purchase a private health insurance policy. Private policies can also offer access to private facilities, so you can get treatment sooner than through the state system.

Unlike the basic plan, insurance companies are not obliged to accept you for private insurance, and your age and health can have an impact.

Who must obtain health insurance in the Netherlands.

  • People staying in the Netherlands on a temporary basis (for less than a year) are not required to purchase health insurance in the Netherlands.
  • EU citizens can obtain European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) through their home national health insurance agency if they are staying in the Netherlands under 12 months. It means that either you do not have to pay for emergency treatment or you get healthcare charges refunded.
  • Foreigners becoming long-term residents (staying in the Netherlands for more than a year and those earning a salary in the Netherlands are required to purchase basic insurance from a Dutch healthcare insurance company.
  • Non-EU citizens staying for longer than three months will need a residence permit, after which they are required to get the Dutch public or private health insurance.
  • Children under 18 are covered for free under their parents’ health insurance.

How to apply for Dutch health insurance

You have four months to take out insurance after arriving in the Netherlands. If you fail to do so, you could face a fine, and be billed retrospectively for the time you were uninsured.

Prior to registering with a health insurer, you need to obtain the Citizen Service Number (burgerservicenemmer or BSN). This should be issued by your employer or by application from the municipal authority where you live or from the Dutch Tax and Custom Administration (Belastingdienst). You are also required to provide the proof of residence, ID document and employment letter.

We covered the main points about Dutch health insurance, however, there might be additional nuances, depending on your personal circumstances. Getting all your paperwork sorted may appear to be stressful and time-consuming. Reach out to our experts if you have any questions left or need help with relocation.