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THE Netherlands: Visa Guides - Must read

Applying for a student visa in the Netherlands

Our guide to getting a student visa for international students studying in the Netherlands

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Socially progressive, densely-packed and laced with picturesque canals, the Netherlands is often called ‘the gateway to Europe.’ With 666,859 international students enrolled at Dutch universities in the 2011-2012 academic year, it’s hardly a surprise there’s such a clamour to study abroad there. Dutch student visa requirements vary more significantly than those of most other nations depending on your country of origin, but in all cases the process is quite straightforward once you know what’s required. Let our breakdown of the visa application process to study abroad in the Netherlands help get your planning process underway.


Are you an EU or non-EU student?


How you go about obtaining a visa to study in the Netherlands will depend on whether you are an EU or non-EU student.


Check if you are an EU student


I am an EU student....

Students from EU countries studying in the Netherlands will NOT need a student visa or residence permit, but you will need to register with a local governing body i.e. a council (‘gemeente’) if you are planning to stay in the Netherlands for at least four months. When you register, you’ll receive a personal public service number (BSN), and will need to un-register when you leave.


You will need to register in person, which in most cases means you’ll need to make an appointment with your local town or city hall. You’ll need to bring a valid passport, proof you have a suitable place to live i.e. a copy of a tenancy contract, and a certified true copy of your birth certificate that includes your name, birthday and place of birth.


Learn more about registering and BSN numbers


I am NOT an EU student...

Students planning to stay in the Netherlands for up to 90 days will need a Schengen visa, also called a story stay visa. This visa allows students to move freely within countries of the Schengen Agreement.  However please note that not all non-EU students require a Schengen visa to enter the Netherlands.


Click here for a list of Schengen countries

Click here for a list of non-EU countries that DO NOT need to apply for a Schengen Visa

Learn more about applying for a Schengen Visa


How do I apply for a student visa?

For all non-EU students planning to stay in the Netherlands for more than 90 days, the visa process has two parts: Provisional Residence Permit (MVV) and Residence Permit.


  1. Provisional Residence Permit (MVV)


The visa you need to enter the Netherlands to study will depend on your country of nationality. Most students will need an entry visa called a Provisional Residence Permit, or ‘Machtiging tot Voorlopig Verblifj’ (MVV) in Dutch. This MVV will allow you to enter the Netherlands at any point within the following six months.  To stay in the country for the duration of your study programme you’ll need a Residence Permit. The MVV is proof of your eligibility as a Dutch resident: when you enter the Netherlands under this permit, you’re seen to do so as a potential resident rather than a tourist.


Your MVV application will take some time to process, and it is recommended that students apply at least three months before their intended arrival date in the Netherlands. Once your application has been lodged, you’ll be unable to apply for any other Schengen visa, or travel to any Schengen country until a decision is reached. In fact, it is required that you are in your home country when the decision on your visa status is made.


You can apply for an MVV through your host institution, each of which will set their own application fees. For example, Leiden University charges students €304 (US$423) to apply for a student visa and/or residence permit.


  1. Residence Permit


If you have been accepted into a Dutch university, once you have applied for an MVV your host institution is bound to apply for a Residence Permit on your behalf. They will do this within five days of your arrival in the Netherlands, and will a require you to pay a fee that is uniquely set by them. Once approved, you should collect your permit from a national immigration body office (IND) within two weeks of your arrival in the Netherlands. Upon receiving your permit, you will then need to register with the local council.


During your studies, the Residence Permit enables you to travel freely throughout any Schengen country for a maximum of 90 days within a 180 day period. Your Residence Permit will be valid for the duration of your study programme, plus three additional months given for the university’s administration to formerly terminate your enrolment with them.


Click here for a list of IND offices


Entry and Residence (TEV) procedure

The TEV process is automatically initiated when you apply for an MVV. This means that your application for an MVV and Residence Permit will be submitted and considered at the same time. You host university will instigate the TEV procedure on your behalf.


You are able to submit both applications yourself if you prefer. In this case, you should submit your applications to the visa section of the Dutch embassy or consulate in your home country. If there is no Netherlands embassy in your home country, look up contact details for the one in a country closest to you and discuss your options. You will pay €152 (US$212) in visa fees if you choose to lodge your application personally.


Click here for a list of Dutch embassies and consulates worldwide

Find out if there are additional permits required for your nationality


What evidence/documentation do I need to provide?

To qualify for an MMV visa, you’ll need:

  • A valid passport, and at least one photocopy of the passport photo page
  • Proof you have sufficient financial means to support yourself during the course of your studies, set by the Dutch Ministry of Justice to be at least €833.22 (US$ 1160) per month. Bank statement and scholarship letters are accepted. 
  • A completed MVV form
  • Agree to undergo a medical test for tuberculosis within three months of arriving in the Netherlands. Some nationalities are exempt from this.
  • Proof of provisional acceptance to study at a recognized institution in the Netherlands


In some cases you might also need to take a civic integration exam (‘inburgeringsexam’) at your local Dutch embassy or consulate. The exam costs € 350 (US$ 487) to take.

Find out if you need to take the Dutch civic integration exam


Keeping your visa

In order for your visa status to remain valid you will need to make sure you’re awarded at least 50% of your study credits each year. If there is a special circumstance such as illness that has prevented you from doing so, you can contact your host’s student services and see if you’re eligible for special consideration.


Now that you’ve got a better idea of what you need to do to get a student visa, start browsing courses in the Netherlands now and plan your study abroad adventure!


Useful Links

Applying to study in the Netherlands

The Higher Education System in the Netherlands...Simplified

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About Author

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Monica Karpinski received her BA (Media and Communications) and Diploma in Modern Languages (French) from the University of Melbourne, Australia. An art and culture aficionado, in her spare time Monica enjoys film, reading and writing about art.