Surinder Singh in the Netherlands

Why the Netherlands:
 It’s close to the UK and convenient to
get back for visits (though don’t do that
too often if you want to pass the
Centre of Life test).
 Basically everyone speaks English –
amazingly well! You can get buy here
without needing to speak Dutch unless
it something you absolutely need for
the work you do (e.g. dealing with
 There is a HUGE expat community here and the Dutch are used to and welcoming of the
Expats (though I must say I’m a white middle class Brit and my husband a white Kiwi – I
suspect that, just like in Britain, racial stereotyping will mean some people get a less
welcoming reception).
 Rental housing is the norm and there is a breathtakingly good public transport system so you
can get around easily and won’t need to buy a car, in fact you can have an amazing time
getting everywhere by bike!
 The Dutch are famously tolerant. They are accepting of others religions, sexual orientation
blah blah. They believe if people aren’t hurting anyone with their behaviour then they can
do what they like. Honestly they have been so friendly.
 The Netherlands is soooo cute – gorgeous old buildings, canals, tulip fields, windmills….. you
can feel like you’re on holiday and really enjoy the experience of living in a funky Euro city
rather than letting the need to live outside the UK get you down!
 We’ve loved it so much we decided not to bother coming back to the UK, at least not as
soon as we had originally planned.
Why not the Netherlands?
 They love bureaucracy…. Its definitely not the
fastest place to do the Surinder Singh as you can expect to
take at least a month to get set up and registered before
you can start collecting time that counts for the Surinder
Singh route. Your non-EU partner may have to wait quite a
while whilst all the boxes are ticked before they can start
work (up to 2 months)
 Like the UK they are concerned about economic migrants and so have similar stupid rules for
their own citizens. They have very few restrictions on EU citizens but expect to have to prove
you have some money to keep you afloat or a salary.
 It’s expensive. Salaries are high to make up for that but you’ll need a decent amount of
money to keep you going before that first pay packet arrives, especially when you need to
pay a security deposit and a months rent in advance to get an apartment.

The steps to take to do the SS in the Netherlands

1. Get your docs prepared. Before you arrive in The Netherlands get your birth certificates and
marriage certificates legalised:
Remember this might take several weeks,
especially if your partner is from a country
with a less efficient registration service. It’ll
cost £30 in the UK for every document you
have legalised. N.B. legalised and apostile
mean the same thing (we’d never heard of it either!).

2. Get a job. You should start looking for a job as soon as you arrive because you can’t get a
tenancy agreement without proof of salary. We moved to the Netherlands because I already
had a consultancy contract there with my old organisation so I can’t provide much advice on
job searches though I would recommend looking for a job before you arrive where possible.
It’s not so far if you need to fly across for an interview before you get here. There are plenty
of temp agencies here too though and some of the expat website (listed lower in the
document) advertise jobs more suited to expats (e.g. where you need to speak English). I
worked as a freelancer (self employed) which involved a lot of bureaucracy in the correct
order to set up. I have written a guide to that below too.

3. Find a flat. If staying in Holland more than 3 months
(which you are) you need to register with the
municipality, and when you have done so you receive
your BSN number (equivalent of NI number in UK). In
order to register you must have an address, so get
finding a flat, or register at a friends address and change
it once you have found your own place. To find a flat
check out:
Most apartments are rented on 12 month contracts so
you’ll need to negotiate something shorter if you aren’t
staying that long. Don’t be fooled by estate agents trying
to charge you one months rent as a commission. This is not legal, you should instead pay a
much lower administration fee to the estate agent. Don’t be fooled into filling in your details
on an estate agents website… this is how they justify asking you for a search fee.

Rental prices are high, brace yourself. Its cheaper if you can stay out of Amsterdam. You can
find a 1 bedroom apartment for under €1000 a month but if you can splash out a bit more
for something nicer and typically Dutch so you can enjoy the experience. We found
ourselves a flat in the old town of Haarlem overlooking a canal for €1200. You’ll need proof
of income before you’ll be able to sign the tenancy agreement so you need to find a job first
and bring a letter from your employer confirming your salary.

Utility bills are often included in the rent. Make sure the tenancy agreement is in both of
your names.

4. Register with the Municipality. You can do this by contacting your local municipality when
you have found a flat and signed a tenancy agreement. In the big city you might have to wait
2 or 3 weeks for an appointment to register – they’ll issue your BSN number basically
straight away. We registered in Haarlem a small city and registered straight away without
needing an appointment but then it took them 3 weeks to send me my BSN number. You
can’t be paid, open a bank account or basically do anything until you have that number. Too
late I realised that the smarter faster way to do this is to go to the Expatcentre and have
them organise it all, if possible using a friends address to register so you can do it straight
away before you have found a flat. Note: Your partner will not be able to get a BSN number
(or work) until you have received yours and then registered with the IND, after which the
municipality will issue your partners BSN number (with the same delay again).

5. Open a bank account. Credit cards are not used widely in Holland (they’re not even
accepted at supermarkets) so until you have a bank account and a debit card it’s hard to pay
for things and you can’t organise things like subscription services e.g. getting an OV-
chipkaart (Dutch Oyster card). ABN Amro specialise in dealing with expats. They’ll be able to
set up your account and all the various communications in English for you. Unfortunately
banks in the Netherlands charge rather annoying account fees. You can’t set up your bank
account until you have a BSN number from the Municipality. Since the EU citizen will receive
their BSN number a couple of weeks before their partner you should set up an account for
the EU person and add the non-EU partner to it, making it a joint account later.

6. Register with the Immigration Department (the IND). You need to call them up and book an
appointment, explaining that you wish to register and your partner is non-EU. You will need
to fill out the correct forms before you go (the municipality may have sent you these – but
probably in Dutch so here are the English versions):
Also take with you:
 Your legalised marriage certificate
 Your letter from the municipality confirming your BSN Number.
 Proof of your employment and pay rate or proof that you have enough money to
support your partner. We showed them that we had €15,000 in savings and they
accepted that. I was still setting up my business so couldn’t prove my income otherwise.
 The documentation the Municipality gave your partner at registration so that it could be
handed on to the IND.
You will both receive stamps in your passport there and they will take a photo and fingerprints
of the non-EU partner who will eventually be issued an ID card (residence card), though the EU
partner doesn’t get one and is supposed to carry their passport everywhere.
An overview is in this brochure:

7. Organise your insurance. You’ll need to get
“Basic” health insurance for you and your partner
plus liability insurance each. Be warned health
insurance is pricey expect to pay €80 per person
per month and another €5 for liability insurance.
To compare the market check out (sorry but its
compulsory to have it):

8. Organise a utility. Many apartments are rented with utility bills included so you can’t have
one put in your name. We got around this by signing up for a cable internet/TV contract
(€80/mth). I’m sure there are other cheaper subscription services that could fill the same
role. Remember to tell them the bill has to be in both names.

Other useful information

Getting about to and from work etc.
You need an Ov-chipkaart (Netherlands version
of the Oyster card) to use public transport.
When you first arrive you can buy an
anonymous card from a train station/Schipol
airport but long term to get the best price for
your travel you need a personalised card and
buy season ticket for the train to be cheaper.
You can’t buy these until you have an address
and a Dutch bank account. Find out about
discount rates here (note this is just for the train not metro or tram):
To plan your journeys on public transport there is a fantastic website (and smartphone app):
Of course the best thing about Holland is the ability to get about by bike. You can buy a very basic
Dutch bike for around €100 but if you are going to be covering large distances you’ll want something
a bit lighter and with gears. You can also hire bikes from places outside most train stations. The bike
routes are brilliant, everywhere and well signposted. To plan some routes check out:
Buying stuff
This is the Dutch equivalent of E-Bay. Open it in Google Chrome so it’ll be translated into dodgy
You can also look at the classifieds in the expat websites which are in English.

Useful websites for Expats:

Setting up a Business as a Freelancer
1. You need to have a BSN Number before can start to set up a business (i.e. you need to have
2. Registration with Trade Register is mandatory – do this at the Chamber of Commerce (KVK).
As the business owner must register in person, you can book an appointment on the KVK
website (be ready to use copy and paste to Google Translate!) I went to the KvK in
Amsterdam (right next to Central Station), I booked it just a day before and the whole
process took just a few minutes because I filled out the registration form online already (its
in Dutch so again you will need to use Google Translate and be patient) .
3. When you go for your appointment you need to take:
a. Proof of ID (Passport)
b. Tenancy agreement
c. Your Dutch bank account debit card – it’s the only way to pay the €50 registration
d. Either the printed registration forms or no need if you did it online.
You will receive an 8 digit KVK number (Business registration number) which you must
display on all your business communications.
You will also receive a BTW (VAT) number. You need to pay your VAT every 3 months and so
be sure to charge VAT to the clients. The VAT rate is 6% or 21%, depending on the type of
product or service. You don’t need to pay VAT if the amount would be less than €1883 and
you are a one man band.
4. Should take out Liability insurance (personal and business) Health insurance, Income
protection insurance (1
2 mandatory, 3
one advisable)

5. Once registered as a business most clients will want their freelancers to have a VAR
Certificate. The VAR certificate basically provides clarity to the client that in tax terms you
are a freelancer and not considered an employee (for which they have to withhold tax,
provide employee benefits etc.)
More info: