This post updated 2 January 2020. The Netherlands is 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. English is NOT the native language but the Dutch are proficient in English and so there are work opportunities available to English speakers. Also the country’s proximity to the rest of Europe for travel. So if you are research countries for a working holiday consider a Netherlands working holiday.
Just a quick note. The official name of the country is the Kingdom of the Netherlands. Holland actually only means the two provinces of Noord-Holland and Zuid-Holland. However, the name Holland is often used when all of the Netherlands is meant. For this blog I am using The Netherlands.
Visas to work in The Netherlands
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.
The Netherlands Working Holiday Visa
For non-EU nationals from Canada, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand there is a working holiday visa available. So if you are aged between 18 to 30 years inclusive you could be granted this working holiday visa. One of these will enable you to stay in the Netherlands 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).
Other visas to work in The Netherlands
If you aren’t from an EU country and don’t qualify for a working holiday visa don’t sweat as there are other options. Check out a student visa or find an employer that might sponsor you, for instance an English Language School so you can teach English.
How will you get to The Netherlands
The Netherlands is in Europe so if you are already in Europe you can get there by rail and/or bus or by flying. If you are further afield, an airfare may be the best option. If you are in need of a cheap flight check out Skyscanner.
Things to do when you arrive in The Netherlands (and before you can start work)
Stay connected with a local prepaid SIM
I would suggest one of the first things you do is to purchase a local SIM card. Having one will help you be contacted and connected so you can get things sorted. So pop into any Vodafone or Tele2 store and get one. You will probably only get a prepaid plan for 3 months which you will need to keep renewing. This is because to prevent fraud, phone companies in The Netherlands don’t let you set up an auto-renew phone plan until you have had a Dutch bank account for at least 3 months. But renewing your plan shouldn’t really be a problem cause many travellers buy local prepaid SIMs for the different countries they have extended stays in.
Get a bike
Do this as soon as you can. As you will soon find out it’s the way people get around. It will also save your feet while you get things sorted. Be aware though that bikes also get stolen a lot so I advise getting a fairly cheap second hand one to start. I advise googling ‘bike shops’ or try the waterlooplein flea market. If possible, get two locks so you can lock your bike up. If you don’t want to buy one consider renting one for a fixed monthly fee through Swapfiets.
Sort your BSN
Once you have your permit to work you will need to obtain a Citizens Service Number (Burger Servicenummer or BSN), This was known as social security and tax number (SOFI number). You can obtain this from the local tax office. You will need this so you are taxed correctly.
Open a bank account
You will also need a bank account and the main ones to consider are ING, Rabobank and ABN. You will not only need one to be paid into but because many grocery stores and certain checkout lines don’t take cash. You will therefore need access to cash through a bank account.
When the official stuff is done you can begin to live, work and play in The Netherlands.
Living in The Netherlands - Accommodation in The Netherlands
There is plenty of short-term accommodation in The Netherlands available in hostels and hotels. I highly suggest you book some short-term accommodation for your initial stay of at least one week but preferably two weeks. This way you can get over jet lag, sort out any legalities (opening a bank account, getting a tax number, etc.), get your bearings, find a job and longer term accommodation.
Unless you know someone who is already living in the Netherlands most arrive and start their working holiday in Amsterdam which has an abundance of places to stay.
Some Hostel options that are very central in Amsterdam and near to many of the tourist spots include: Hostel Annemarie and Hostel Centre. If you are wanting something a little different get a room on a boat such as at Amsterdam Hotel Boat Angeline. Or visit HostelWorld for more hostel options.
While staying in your short-term accommodation in Amsterdam you can then make the decision of where you would like to find longer-term accommodation. This could be either in Amsterdam or another major town or city in the Netherlands.
Finding somewhere more permanent can be a challenge. Some travellers 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.
Types of jobs in The Netherlands for Travellers, where they are and how to find them
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 ways to find work in The Netherlands. Jobs are usually advertised in the newspapers. You will be pleased to know that the papers have many English-language job advertisements on the vacancy pages. But many travellers register with a recruitment agency of which there are hundreds. Branches of job agencies can be found on major streets in Amsterdam. They include large world-wide recruitment agencies such as Adecco, Hays, Page Personnel, Randstad, Walters People, Manpower, Kelly, etc. Also look in the Golden Gids (Yellow Pages: www.gouden-gids.nl) or look up Uitzendbureaus (Recruitment Agencies) in the telephone directory to locate recruitment agencies.
The public employment service, UWV WERKbedriif may also prove fruitful. There are branches located throughout Amsterdam. Many of the jobs are listed on the online job database of the UWV WERKbedriif so check it out.
The Internet will be useful with your job search. Most recruitment agencies post vacancies on their sites plus you can view job search engines such as Monsterboard. You could also take the initiated and walk in to establishments such as bars and cafes and leave your CV with the manager. Cause you just never know, you might walk out with a job.
Some tips to finding work
- Have an up-to-date CV that you can submit to recruitment agencies. Ensure it reflects your skills, education, work experience and personal profile.
- Support your CV with a clear letter setting out your career/job objectives - you will need to customise your letter for each application.
- Follow-up if you haven’t heard within five days and keep in regular contact to let the agency know you are serious about finding work.
- Stay flexible and be ready to attend interviews.
- Read up on your rights and obligations on protecting yourself from exploitation. Being new to Amsterdam you don’t want to be discriminated against or taken advantage of. The Dutch government has a useful brochure you can read on this. Read it here.
Types of traveller jobs in The Netherlands
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 HostelWorld website, you can research hostels and approach them for work. Also read my blog on finding a job in a hostel.
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 and the rest of Europe.
You will have it in your mind what you might want to see and do but firstly I would think about how you will get around. Amsterdam is pretty easy to travel around and has a very good public transport system. Get yourself a day or 7-day ticket and make the most of your time in Amsterdam.
High on your list of things to see and do might be visiting a cheese factory, buying some wooden clogs to wear, seeing a windmill in action. You could do all this by walking, hiring a bike and riding around on using Amsterdam's Public Transport System. If you decide to use the Public Transport System you can purchase a daily or weekly ticket to do so. Find out more about them here.
Popular places to visit and things to do in Amsterdam include walking through the Red Light District - as many do - and/or sit in one of the many cafes or visit the former Heineken factory and learn about one of the world's favourite beers. Being a little more touristy you could visit the Royal Palace, the Van Gogh Museum and the Anne Frank House. To see many of the sites quickly you could take the Hop-on Hop-off Tourist Bus that will take you to them then you can return at your own leisure. The best thing to do is to do some research on Amsterdam and the Netherlands and then get going.
So. you don't have to wait in long queues to enter many of the sites in Amsterdam and around The Netherlands purchase a ticket in advance. Check out the options following.
A working holiday in The Netherlands isn't as popular as some other destinations like the UK however, it has a lot of advantages. Even though English isn't the first language many Dutch speak it. And with the large number of English speaking tourist who visit Amsterdam and the rest of The Netherlands there are work opportunities available for travellers. The Netherlands is also well located in Europe ensuring you can easily reach other European countries. So consider The Netherlands as a working holiday destination.
Sharyn has travelled most of her life thanks to her dad who worked for an airline. In her 20’s she went overseas and spent 4 years living, working, playing and travelling through many countries. Her travels inspire her ‘Live Work and Play’ series of working holiday guides and LiveWorkPlayTravel where she shares her knowledge of travel, being a digital nomad and blogging. Sharyn continues to travel and currently calls Melbourne home.