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Dutch Language Visa Requirments

Thinking of moving to the Netherlands? Many people might say “you don’t need to learn Dutch”, but there are varying requirements to meet depending on whether you need a visa, a residence permit, or citizenship. We’ll clear that up.

Do you need to speak Dutch to live in the Netherlands?

Normally no, but if you need permanent residence, then you must be able to demonstrate Dutch at the level of A2. See Table 1 for more information. Even if this doesn’t affect you, learning the language will allow you to establish a far greater connection to the country and its culture. Skipping the language can lead to limited social circles as well.

Do you need to speak Dutch to work in the Netherlands?

Unless you need to have permanent residence, there is no legal requirement to know Dutch in order to work in the Netherlands. If you need permanent residence, then you will need to demonstrate A2 Dutch. However, an employer might require Dutch, and it will certainly help make you stand out in the labour market.

Do you need to speak Dutch to become a citizen?

If you want to become a Dutch citizen through naturalisation, you must be able to pass a Dutch language test as well as a civic integration exam. In 2023, the language requirement was set at A2. It is expected to be raised to B1 in 2024. The civic integration exam will measure your knowledge about Dutch culture, including history and politics.

  • Knowing Dutch will allow you to engage and interact with the Dutch in any situation, without needing to rely on anyone else.
  • Such independence will also allow you to not be treated like a tourist, or an expat. In some situations that will save you money as it is a not uncommon experience for people to be charged higher rates when they don’t speak the language.
  • Learning the language helps you understand more about the culture, preparing you for the civic exam, which is given in Dutch.
  • Both your work and personal life will be benefited when you can communicate with locals, in their own language as your relationships will only be stronger. The Dutch are often very appreciative when people put the time and effort into learning their language. 
  • Knowing the local language will offer you more opportunities in the job market. 
  • Learning Dutch will also offer you an improved quality of life. You’ll be more relaxed as you find it easier to navigate governmental bureaucracy. Some of which, the tax office being a prime example, is required by law to be in Dutch only. You will also be able to experience the Dutch culture at its fullest, creating a stronger connection with the place you’re in. 
  • Even if you don’t feel the benefits mentioned above, learning another language creates a strong sense of accomplishment and pride. It will help build confidence in your ability to create and maintain a life abroad.

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Paul Van Zanten
Paul is an American intercultural communications professional living in the Netherlands and connecting with his Dutch roots. With a passion for travel, as well as gaining new perspectives and experiences, Paul aims to further his growth, as well as that of others at Language Partners.

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