5 Ways a Canadian Moves to the Netherlands

Wish you could live on a canal ring in Amsterdam, ride your bike to work and eat fries with mayo every day? It's not impossible! Here are five ways you can make this dream come true.

Short Stay

As a Canadian, you can stay in the Netherlands for three months without a visa or residence permit. It's short enough to be able to avoid the tricky official stuff like getting your BSN, setting up a bank account, and taking out compulsary health insurance, but maybe just long enough to get a taste of Dutch life.

Finding an apartment without the things mentioned above might be tricky or expensive, but there are plenty of options for people looking for a temporary place to stay. Try Airbnb, housesitting websites and Facebook groups for for short term vacancies.

Working Holiday

We used this option for Brian during our first year in the Netherlands. Because Canada and the Netherlands are friends, they have an arrangement designed for young Canadians who want to experience life in another country, learn a new language, meet people and gain international experience.

If you are a Canadian between the ages of 18 and 31, you have a valid passport and sufficient funds to buy a return ticket, then you may be eligible to live and work in the Netherlands for up to one year.

Find out more at the Canadian Embassy.

Skilled Migrant

If you have specialized skills, you may be considered a highly skilled migrant. Your employer in the Netherlands must demonstrate that you fill a position that they could not fulfill locally and be willing to pay you a competitive skilled migrant salary. Your employer would become your sponsor, and your residence permit is somewhat dependent on your work contract.

Worried about job security? Dutch employment regulations are often on the side of the employee, so if something goes wrong and you are laid off, for example, you will have some time to find another job if you wish to stay in the country.

The Netherlands is an attractive option for English speakers looking for international work. Though Dutch is definitely an asset, there is plenty of work for those of us who only speak English. If you are a good Canadian who speaks French, you have even more open to you in the Benelux region (Belgium, Netherlands and Luxembourg).

Many international companies have a strong presence here, and of course these companies will do business in English and be well-equipped to help you with paperwork and relocation. Shell, Phillips, Heineken, Unilever, KLM, ING and Tom Tom were all founded by the Dutch and are headquartered in the Netherlands. We've already met a fair number of Albertans here with Shell (hello Calgary!).

More information can be found at the Immigration and Naturalisation Service (IND).

Enterprising Entrepreneur

If you are a brilliant entrepreneur, you might have your ticket to living in the Netherlands! There is a new program for entrepreneurs to obtain temporary residence while they start an innovative business guided by an experienced facilitator.

You must hold a valid passport and, like everyone else living in the Netherlands, you must take out a health insurance policy. You must have a business plan for an innovative product or service and both you and your facilitator must be entered in the Chamber of Commerce Commercial Register. Lastly, you must have sufficient resources to live in the Netherlands.

If you have a great idea and satisfy all the criteria, you will have one year to bring your idea to life in the Netherlands! The Immigration and Naturalisation Service (IND) is your best friend if you want to know more.

For Love and Family

Surprisingly, this option was trickier to pull off than we expected, but we also didn't do anything conventionally. Most Dutch citizens would probably have an easier time sponsoring their spouses. If you are a Canadian with a Dutch partner (or have Dutch family), they can sponsor you so that you can get a residence permit.

The trick is that the sponsor must make a minimum monthly salary so that they are able to support you. The process requires a lot of paperwork, but should be fairly straightforward if you are coming from Canada. Make sure that documents such as foreign marriage certificates are stamped by both governments (check with your embassy for all requirements).

Canadians are exempt from the dreaded inburgeren (Dutch language and culture) exam, as of the time of this post. They also now make the forms in English, so even Dutch people like me who aren't very confident in their language skills can fill them out.

Time to brainstorm

Have you thought about moving to another country? Do you think you could relocate to the Netherlands? Maybe it's not as hard as you thought.

~ Erica