Global Alerts

Netherlands – New Work Permit Waiver to Promote International Trade

Effective July 1, 2017, a regulation aimed at promoting international trade contacts entered into force. Under this regulation, Dutch companies can temporarily employ foreign national workers without a work permit, to perform activities as part of a project related to the delivery of goods and services.

What projects qualify?

To qualify, the overall goal of the project will be considered, and the extent to which it contributes to fostering international trade. The work activities must not lead to distortion of the Dutch labour market.

A Dutch entity can now register a project (‘traject’) for an initial period of up to three years. If required, the project can be renewed for another three years if a new registration application is submitted with the Dutch labour authorities (UWV). Processing time is five weeks from the date of submission.

Once a project has been registered, a notification for the working activities must be submitted two days prior to the commencement of the activities in the Netherlands. The UWV will not check the notification as to its content but merely issue a proof of receipt of the notification.

Who qualifies for the work permit waiver?

The company must demonstrate that the employees are required because of their specific knowledge, expertise and experience. Directors, main shareholders, contractors and employees of a foreign-based company are eligible for the exemption.

The exemption is based on the presumption that suitable candidates for such temporary assignment are not readily available on the Netherlands’ job market, nor for that matter on the other job markets of the European Economic Area (EEA) and Switzerland.

The work permit exemption does not include the employee’s right to reside in the Netherlands. It is the responsibility of the employer (and the foreign employee) to apply for a residence permit with the Immigration and Naturalisation Service (IND).


From July 1, 2013 until June 30, 2017, the Dutch government ran the ‘Knowledge Industry’ pilot scheme, which aimed to facilitate employees of foreign clients coming to the Netherlands temporarily to perform certain activities. Permitted activities were limited to quality control and inspection (work permit waiver for maximum two years) and the training of foreign workers how to correctly use the equipment or software, i.e. knowledge transfer (waiver for maximum one year).

To be able to participate in the pilot, the Dutch companies needed to fulfill certain conditions. The annual revenue generated in the Netherlands needed to be at least 50 million Euros and the project itself needed to be worth at least five million Euros. In addition, the Dutch company needed to provide proof that in the last five years, it did not violate any Dutch labour or alien labour laws. In case a company received a fine during this period, it was automatically excluded from the pilot.

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