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Amsterdam sunset

Relocating to Amsterdam? 6 Things you need to know

Written by on 23rd December 2019
Category: Business travel and relocation

Relocating to Amsterdam is a popular option for many businesses, entrepreneurs and corporate representatives looking to expand into the European market. The city’s central location and international connections, with strong transport links to the wider continent, make it an ideal hub for businesses aiming to develop their reach and diversify their client base. With a rising number of enquiries for our long term serviced apartments in Amsterdam, as covered in our recent rundown of the city’s best corporate accommodation, we have compiled a list of things you need to know before relocating to Amsterdam to enhance your international business prospects.

1. Dutch Visas and Documentation

Travel docs
The Netherlands offers a range of visas dependent on length of stay and purpose of travel

Taking the leap and relocating to Amsterdam from within the EU is a surprisingly straightforward process. EU citizens are granted permission to live and work in the Netherlands automatically; in this case, you need only obtain a Citizen Service Number by registering with the city hall within five days of your arrival. This number enables you to open a Dutch bank account and pay your taxes accordingly. (NB! This system of relocation will be different for British citizens once the UK has left the EU.) You may also be required to apply for a visa depending on the length and nature of your stay in the city.

For non-EU citizens, as you would expect, the process of applying to relocate to Amsterdam is more complicated and depends on your ability to acquire a residence and employment permit – or GVVA.  In order to receive this permit you are required to have a job offer or confirmed employment with a licensed Dutch company – meaning that if your employer/business already has offices registered in the city, your application will be relatively painless. A full breakdown of all visa requirements can be found here.

2. Housing in Amsterdam

Albert Cuyp market Amsterdam
Albert Cuyp market is a popular attraction in Amsterdam’s De Pijp neighbourhood

SilverDoor can of course provide a range of serviced apartments in Amsterdam for short-stay periods while a permanent residence is secured, but ensuring you locate a new home which is best situated for you and your family is vital. There are multiple attractive neighbourhoods in Amsterdam which are suited to different tastes and requirements, so it is worth considering the options in detail before making any firm arrangements.

From the contemporary and architecturally dazzling Oostelijke Eilanden, with its dock views and buzzing atmosphere, to the colourful and quaint De Pijp – Amsterdam’s own Latin Quarter – filled with trendy cafes and shops, Amsterdam has a host of neighbourhoods with distinct and diverse characteristics. For those seeking a family-friendly environment when relocating to Amsterdam, the popular and peaceful Oud-West neighbourhood is an ideal blend of attractive residential areas and dynamic social hubs in the form of restaurants and bars.  

3. Learning Dutch

Blackboard - Dutch language
It is estimated that over 23 million people speak Dutch worldwide

The Dutch are renowned for their warmth and welcoming nature, particularly when it comes to embracing international languages – and English is no exception. This means that upon relocating to Amsterdam, you will likely find that most, if not all, Dutch residents you encounter will be more than happy to converse in your native tongue. However, it is undoubtedly beneficial to learn the fundamentals of the Dutch language prior to your arrival in order to seamlessly settle into the culture of Amsterdam.

Whether you choose to attend Dutch classes before you depart, or enrol in a series of webinars, there are a variety of methods available to you to brush up on some of the basics of the language. Although some phrases in the Dutch language do register with English speakers (such as Goedemorgen), there are many intricacies involved with the language as a whole, as well as unfamiliar Dutch customs. To help those new to the country familiarise themselves with the Dutch culture and language, the city of Amsterdam provides free Dutch courses to many residents, meaning your learning won’t stop once you arrive in the city.

4. Taking your pet to Amsterdam

Dogs in Amsterdam
Dogs are a popular pet in the Netherlands, with a national population of over 1.5 million

Arranging for your pet to join you when relocating to Amsterdam can be a timely process, so it is recommended that you begin preparation as far in advance as possible. A Pet Passport is required for animals being moved to Amsterdam, and this can involve a 6-9 month waiting period before allocation. The purpose of this documentation is to certify that animals coming into the country are appropriately vaccinated. Other conditions, such as ensuring your pet is microchipped, also apply – as do various other stringent controls. If any of these requirements are not met, it is highly likely your pet will not be allowed to enter the country.

If you are bringing a pet into the Netherlands from a non-EU country, further conditions apply; it is recommended that in this instance you contact the Netherlands Food and Consumer Product Authority as soon as possible. If you are arriving with your pet ahead of moving into your permanent residence, SilverDoor provides many pet-friendly serviced apartments in Amsterdam for your convenience.

5. Education in Amsterdam

NEMO science centre Amsterdam
In addition to its schools and learning facilities, Amsterdam is home to many educational attractions, such as the acclaimed NEMO Science Museum

If your children are accompanying you when relocating to Amsterdam, it is important to consider the path you wish their education to take in the city as there are multiple options available. Despite the appeal of the International Schools available in the city, more and more international residents (almost half) are enrolling their children in local Dutch schools due to their availability and quality ratings. Many also consider immersion in the Dutch culture permeating local schools to be beneficial for integration.

Many primary schools provide a Newcomer’s Class (ages 6-12) for new arrivals, which aims to assist children with the integration process, as well as enhance their understanding of the Dutch language. Similarly, high schools provide International Class for those aged 12 and over; this programme lasts for 1-2 years, depending on the progress made by the individual student. More information about available schools can be found here, whereas a comprehensive guide to the Dutch education system can be found on the iamsterdam site.

6. Amsterdam culture

Couple in Amsterdam culture
Amsterdam is filled with venues and cultural events for all to enjoy

Relocating to Amsterdam can be daunting, especially if you are unfamiliar with the city and what it has to offer. Thankfully, there are countless cultural sights and performances on a nightly basis which offer the perfect opportunity to get involved in the local community and feel part of this vibrant city. The Amsterdam Culture Club is designed specifically to bring together English speakers new to the city. Completely free to join, this club offers its members the opportunity to attend various gatherings and shows with like-minded individuals – making it ideal for those wishing to immerse themselves in the city’s culture.

Perhaps the greatest advantage of this club is that it provides an immediate social group for those unfamiliar with the city, meaning exploring the city, its nightlife and its various entertainment sectors need not be a daunting task. The club also provides benefits in the form of exclusive talks and behind the scenes tours – all communicated in English.

Looking for more tips and information about Amsterdam? Read our guide to the best restaurants in the city for business meetings, or discover the city’s active commitment to the environment in our article on this eco-capital. Our full range of short and long-term serviced apartments in the Netherlands can be found here.