paspoortenVisa & work permit, legalisation of documents

The Dutch authorities and the authorities of other countries need to be certain about the status of each other’s documents.

Legalisation confirms that a document was issued by someone with the authority to issue it, and that the signatures it bears are genuine. Some documents need to be signed by several different authorities in order to be legalised. This is called the legalisation chain.

Some countries have entered into agreements streamlining the legalisation chain. This means that certain documents from one of the contracting states may be used in another contracting state with only a single legalisation or even none at all (mainly within Europe).


The best-known legalisation convention is the convention abolishing the requirement of legalisation for foreign public documents, also known as the Apostille Convention. This convention does not completely abolish legalisation but shortens the chain so that only a single action is required: the addition of an apostille. A document bearing an apostille does not require any further legalisation by the embassy or consulate of the country in which it is to be used. An authorised official issues the apostille once he/she is satisfied that the document and its signature are genuine.

Do I need an apostille or legalisation ?

Whether an apostille is required will depend on the country in which the relevant document was issued. Birth certificates, marriage certificates, and similar documents issued by a country that is a signatory to a legalisation treaty must generally bear an apostille. At this point around 90 countries are committed to the Apostille Convention.
If the documents you need to legalise are issued in a country that is not part of the Apostille Convention, the Dutch Missions in that country is responsible for legalising foreign documents for use in the Netherlands. Firstly, however, the documents must have been legalised by the country’s own authorities, usually the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the country where the documents were issued.

Please check this list of countries to find the country you are looking for and see if you need an apostille or legalisation.

Legal translations

A birth certificate, marriage certificate, or declaration of marital status written in any other language than Dutch, English, French, or German must be translated into one of these four languages by a sworn translator. The translation will then bear the translator’s stamp.
Your local Dutch embassy/consulate will be able to put you in touch with an approved translator. If you need a legal document translated and you already live in the Netherlands you can also find a legal translator in the Netherlands.

For more information on legalising foreign documents check the website of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Passport photos for official identity documents

When you apply for a residence permit or any other legal document, the Dutch authorities often require a passport photo. The Netherlands Passport Implementation Regulations stipulate the following requirements:

– The size of the photo is 4 x 3 cm
– The face of the applicant should be photographed from the front against a light, uniform background and take up about 2 cm of the width of the picture
– Both eyes should be visible, if necessary behind glasses with transparent glass. Dark glasses may not be worn for the photograph unless the applicant has demonstrated that they are necessary for medical reasons
– The head should be uncovered, unless the applicant has demonstrated that a covering may be worn for reasons of religion or health. Should the head be covered, the face should remain visible.

For more information, please click here.

Visa less than three months

If you want to stay in the Netherlands for a period less than 3 months you probably need a short stay visa, also known as Schengen visa.

This visa is valid for the Schengen area, 26 countries with no border controls between them. Those countries are: Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland.
Although travellers no longer have to show their passports when crossing borders between Schengen countries, this does not mean that travelling within the Schengen area is the same as travelling within a single country.

Who needs a Schengen visa?

If you are a national of one of the countries listed above you do not need a Schengen visa. A Schengen visa’s validity may be limited to only one country (e.g. the Netherlands) or a specified number of countries (e.g. Belgium, Luxembourg and the Netherlands). In such cases, the visa holder may visit only the countries for which the Schengen visa is valid.

Where can I apply for a Schengen visa?

As a rule, all visitors from outside the European Economic Area (with or without visa requirement) may enter the Netherlands as long as they meet the following conditions:

– You have a valid passport;
– You have enough money with you (at least € 34 for each day of your stay);
– You have a valid reason for visiting the Netherlands;
– You are not considered a threat to public order, national security, or international relations.

You can apply for a Schengen visa at a Dutch embassy or consulate. Go to the mission in the country where you reside or are entitled to reside. In some countries, you may apply for a visa to an outside agency authorised to accept visa applications. For more information about visas, please check the website of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Visa longer than three months
The nationals of all countries except the EU member states and a few other countries who want to visit/stay in the Netherlands for an uninterrupted period longer than 3 months need an authorisation for temporary stay (MVV).


An MVV is a special entrance visa, on which you can travel to the Netherlands and subsequently apply for a residence permit (which is required for all non-EU citizens who wish to stay for more than 3 months). If your nationality requires an MVV, it is impossible to apply for a residence permit without it! An MVV can only be applied for from your country of origin or the country where you legally reside at that moment. If you enter the Netherlands with a Schengen visa (or short stay visa) for a period shorter than 3 months, it is not possible to change this visa into an MVV.

If you do not need an MVV and wish to stay in the Netherlands for longer than 3 months, and you are not an EU citizen, you must still apply for a residence permit. For more detailed information about the MVV procedure see the website of the Immigration Service (IND) for more details.
The kind of residence permit you will need depends on your purpose of stay; for each purpose different conditions can apply. The same goes for the MVV. So please select the right reason of your stay when checking the residence wizard.

I have a Dutch employer / I am a student
If you have an employer or want to study in the Netherlands, the employer or the educational institution will play an important role in the application procedure. It is even possible (sometimes necessary) that they apply for the MVV on your behalf and make use of the so-called ‘accelerated application’. The normal procedure for obtaining an authorisation for temporary stay (MVV) usually takes between 3 and 6 months. If your educational institute or employer brings in employees, trainees or students from abroad on a regular basis, he may be eligible for the accelerated MVV procedure. This procedure takes just a few weeks.

Voluntary MVV

Foreign workers with a nationality that does not require an MVV to enter the Netherland can voluntary ask for an MVV as well. The reason to do this lies in a big advantage in the residence permit application. When you apply for an MVV, your case is reviewed before your arrival and when applying for the actual residence permit you will receive a sticker in your passport that serves as a temporary residence permit. This will allow you to work immediately after your residence permit application. Furthermore, the citizen service number (BSN) can be issued much faster.

Work Permit

You may need a work permit for working in the Netherlands depending on your status or your country of origin.

People from another EU country or from the European Economic Area do not need a work permit to be able to work in the Netherlands.
In general, all non-EU citizens will be required to have a work permit if they want to work in the Netherlands. Work permits in the Netherlands are employer and job-specific. Only the employer can apply for it through the UWV.

Before an employer can apply for a Dutch work permit for a non-EEA national, it is necessary to show that attempts have been made to fill the position from the local and EEA labour markets. Once the work permit is lodged, the application should usually take no more than 5 weeks to be processed. The UWV uses a restrictive policy in issuing work permits.

The Netherlands have several residence statuses that allow people to enter, reside, and work without the requirement of a work permit. These statuses, like “knowledge migrant” or “scientific researcher” require specific conditions and are mentioned in the section Residence Permit. In these cases one applies for the work permit in combination with a residence permit.


Students from outside the EEA will also need a work permit if they want to work beside their studies. Such a work permit is generally not difficult to obtain for an employer if the student meets the following conditions:

– The student has a valid residence permit for the purpose of studying in the Netherlands;
– The work is restricted to (full-time) seasonal work in the months of June, July and August or (you cannot do both);
– Part-time work throughout the year, but no more than 10 hours a week.

As the requirements for work permits change regularly, it is advisable to check the website of the IND for details.