Why choose a working holiday in the Netherlands

The Netherlands are known for tulips, bicycles, flat countryside, cheese, clogs, windmills, a place you can legally buy marijuana and a vibrant Amsterdam nightlife. Yes, all good reasons to choose a working holiday in the Netherlands but there are two other very appealing reasons: although English is NOT the native language, the Dutch are proficient in English and so there are work opportunities available to English speakers and also the countries proximity to the rest of Europe for travel with Belgium, France and Germany easily accessible by land and the UK by sea and air.

Visa information

Most EU nationals do not need a visa or work permit to live and work in the Netherlands but non-EU nationals do. EU nationals should refer to the official European Union website at www.europa.eu for more details. If you are staying longer than 3 months and want to take work you will need to obtain a Citizen Service Number (Burger Servicenummer or BSN) from the local tax office.

For non-EU nationals from Canada, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand there is a working holiday available. So if you are aged between 18 to 30 years inclusive you could be granted this working holiday visa that will enable you to stay in the Netherland for a maximum of one year and take work to help cover your stay.

To apply for a working holiday visa contact your nearest Netherlands Consulate in your home country. Another option is to arrive in the Netherlands as a tourist and then apply to change your status to resident permit so you can work. If you plan on doing this you should apply at the Aliens Police Service (Vreemdelingenpolitie) or Town Hall. Take your passport, any evidence of employment or proof you have funds to support yourself, health insurance details and an address (usually a hostel address will suffice).

Once you have your permit you will need to obtain your BSN number (was known as social security and tax number (SOFI number)) from the local tax office. You will also need a bank account. Banks to open with include ING, Rabobank, ABN, etc. Once the official stuff is done you can begin to live, work and play.

Living in the Netherlands

There is plenty of short-term accommodation in hostels and hotels available for your initial stay however, you will need to find somewhere longer term to live. Finding somewhere more permanent can be a challenge so many opt for a live-in job such as being an Au Pair or working in a hostel which takes care of finding employment and somewhere to live in the one hit. As per the working holiday agreement you will need to register at the local council in which you are living.

Book short-term accommodation for your arrival. At least 1-2 weeks so you can sort out any legalities (opening bank account, tax number, etc.), get your bearings, find a job and longer term accommodation.


Working in the Netherlands

Where is the work? Mostly in Amsterdam but there are employment opportunities in other large towns/areas such as Rotterdam, The Hague, Haarlem, Leiden and Utrecht.

How to find work


There are a number of work opportunities for working holiday makers seeking casual and temporary work. Jobs are usually advertised in the media but many travellers register with a recruitment agency of which there are hundreds. To find recruitment agencies check out the Golden Gids (Yellow Pages: www.gouden-gids.nl) or look up Uitzendbureau in the telephone directory. There are recruitment agencies of varying sizes including those wolrd-wide such as Adecco, Manpower, Kelly, etc.


Types of work


As mentioned before being an Au pair will see you with not only a job but a place to live. As an Au Pair you will live as part of the family with duties including taking care of the children and taking them to activities, light housework, preparing meals, etc. In return you will receive your own room, meals and a small wage. Positions can be anywhere within the Netherlands so you might be in a vibrant city such as Amsterdam or living in the countryside. Positions can be found through agencies/websites such as www.aupair-nederland/nl, www.aupairworld.com, www.jcraupairs.com.au.

Many find hospitality work in the many bars and cafes that abound in Amsterdam and other towns/areas in the Netherlands. Most just walk in and ask the manager if there is a position available. Your best bet is to make contact with places that employ English speaking travellers such as one of the many Irish bars.

Finding a job in a hostel is very popular. There are a number of hostels in the Netherlands that are usually staffed by travellers. Jobs range from being on reception to cleaning the facilities to working in the bar and café (if the hostel has these). In return for your work you should receive accommodation (usually just a bed in a dorm room), maybe meals and a small wage, though some hostels will agree to providing free accommodation in return for a few hours work – this can leave you free to work somewhere else casually. Have a look at Hostel World website, you can research hostels and approach them for work.

Office work is available to English speaking travellers who can answer phones, undertake general administration duties and are fast at entering data. Most work can be found through recruitment agencies so contact some of the big ones like Randstad, Adecco, etc.

The Netherlands is known for its tulips and every year casuals are required to help in the bulb industry to , dig, pick, peel, sort, count and pack bulbs. Work is available during spring and autumn. As well, factories need people to pick and pack the bulbs. Other agricultural work picking fruit and vegetables such as asparagus, strawberries, apples, etc. can be found over the warmer months from mid-April to October. An agency to contact for this type of work is Creyf’s www.creysf.nl which has branches through the Netherlands.

Most Dutch speak English proficiently however, there are English language schools that you could contact for a Teaching English job such as Berlitz, Linguarama and Language Express.  Students will mostly be business people wishing to improve their English.



Playing in another country is usually the best part of any working holiday and the Netherlands offers a lot of opportunities to explore and experience Dutch life. You will have it in your mind what you might want to see and do like visit a cheese factory, buy and wear some clogs, visit a windmill, ride a bicycle through the countryside, check out the Red Light District and look at prostitutes in windows, take a canal cruise of the city sights, sit in one of the many cafes and bars, visit the Van Gogh Museum and Anne Frank’s House, etc. and the best way to do this is to do some research about the Netherlands and when you arrive pick up the tourist brochures and get going.


About the Author: Sharyn McCullum travelled the world for a number of years. She specialises in writing/blogging about working holidays. She currently calls Melbourne home.

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