Dutch Language Blog

Moving to the Netherlands: Your Dutch Immigration Vocabulary Checklist Posted by on Aug 30, 2016 in Uncategorized

As if there aren’t enough good reasons for moving to the Netherlands anyways, Dutch language learners have the extra motivation of getting the complete linguistic and cultural immersion that can only be truly achieved by moving to another country.

Many readers of this blog may be planning a future move to the Netherlands, and rightly so. But wees gewaarschuwd: it’s not easy.

In the midst of the vluchtelingencrisis and the European economic recovery, most Europeans aren’t exactly rolling out the red carpet for new arrivals in their cramped countries and even tighter job markets. And even those fortunate enough to find a means of moving to the Netherlands will have to deal with every Dutch immigrant’s worst nightmare: de Immigratie- en Naturalisatiedienst, better known as the IND.

Mix two parts Dutch bureaucracy with one part language barrier (because even though the entire staff will speak English, proud language learners will insist on struggling through the whole thing in Dutch) and you’ve got a stressful immigration situation on your hands.

the hague immigration

The Hague, where the fate of your verblijfsvergunning will be decided.
Photo by Alias 0591 via Flickr under CC BY 2.0.

If you’re making plans to move to the Netherlands soon, or daydreaming of doing so in the future, you’ll be well served to learn some of the special vocabulary you’ll need to use in filling out forms, standing in line at the IND, and pinning down that verblijfsvergunning. Many of these words are only used in contexts like the IND, which means you’re not likely to learn them over drinks with Dutch friends or your daily comings and goings. Here’s a sample of that vocabulary you can get started on learning while you explore your Dutch visa options.

  • De Nederlandse Immigratie- en Naturalisatiedienst (IND): the Dutch immigration and naturalisation service, maker and breaker of expat dreams.
  • verhuizen: to move residence
  • immigreren: to immigrate
  • integreren; de integratie: to integrate; integration
  • inburgeren; de inburgering: to naturalize; acculturation
  • verblijven; het verblijf: to stay, reside; the stay, residence
  • vergunnen; de vergunning: to permit; the permit
  • de machtiging tot voorlopig verblijf (MVV): authorization of temporary residence, the visa necessary for entering the country for citizens of countries without visa-free travel to the Netherlands
  • de verblijfsvergunning (VVR): residence permit
  • aanvragen; de aanvraag: to request; the request
  • indienen: to turn in, submit
  • legaliseren: to have legalized (with an apostile)
  • verplichten: to require
  • het verzoek: the request
  • voorwaarden: terms and conditions, provisions
  • inkomenseisen: income requirements
  • in aanmerking komen: to be qualified for
  • de afkomst: descent, origin
  • de arbeid: labor
  • het verblijfsdoel: purpose of stay
  • de loondienst: paid employment
  • de tewerkstellingsvergunning (TWV): work permit
  • de vreemdeling: foreigner
  • de kennismigrant: knowledge migrant
  • hoogopgeleid: highly educated
  • het zoekjaar: ‘search year’, a one-year visa allowing certain highly educated migrants to enter the country for one year on simple terms to find and secure employment.

Practice your immigration vocabulary and if you’re feeling brave, show up to your appointment speaking Dutch. It can’t hurt to show you’re serious about integrating and learning the language, and if you’re lucky, impressing the right person at the IND can make it a much more pleasant trip.

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About the Author: Jakob Gibbons

I write about language and travel on my blog . I often share my experiences with learning languages on the road, and teaching and learning new speech sounds is my specialty.


  1. Peter Simon:

    A very good and important post.

    A question about the photo, though: has the office for verblijfsvergunning been moved? Seven years ago everybody still had to travel to ‘s Hertogenbosch (Den Bosch) to get it just like a decade ago when my friend arrived from China. I guess if the office is in Den Bosch, decisions about the papers are also made there. It’s in a modern, quite new, huge, red-brick office building just across from the Station.

    • Jakob Gibbons:

      @Peter Simon There are actually several offices around the country where you can go to make your appointment and actually pick up the permit! The photo is just a shot of the Hague city center, but yes, I believe the decisions are made there regardless of which office you actually pick up the permit in 🙂

  2. F.Colls:

    Immigreren en emigreren. Confusing. Want immigreren is een land binnenkomen om daar te gaan wonen.
    Emigreren is een land land verlaten om in een nieuw land te gaan wonen.
    De vertaling hierboven zou deze begrippen omgekeerd kunnen bevatten.

    • Jakob Gibbons:

      @F.Colls Hmm, groot gelijk, dat zou wel eens verwarrend kunnen zijn. Gezien deze post eigenlijk niks te maken met emigreren heeft, heb ik die gewoon weggelaten. Thanks for the tip!