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About us Working at the University of Groningen That is why you work at the UG Practical matters

Living in the Netherlands

Once you have settled down after arriving in the Netherlands, there are a few things you need to know about living in the Netherlands. Please see the sections below for more information about several aspects of living in the Netherlands.


Accommodation in Groningen

The University recommends all international guests who stay longer than 90 days to find accommodation through SSH. SSH is a student accommodation provider in the Netherlands with more than 19,000 rooms and residences in various regions in the Netherlands. Since 2015 SSH is also located in Groningen and helps students and researchers to find good and affordable accommodations.

At home in Groningen

The website At home in Groningen can help you find a home in Groningen. Here you will find the contact details for SSH, The Student Hotel and other agencies and real estate agents.

The social hub

For short stays you may also consider renting accommodation in The Social Hub in Groningen.

Bank affairs

International Bank Account Number (IBAN)
Open a Dutch bank account

If you are from outside the EU/EEA or you do not have a European bank account with an International Bank Account Number (IBAN), you will need to open a Dutch bank account in order to manage your day-to-day finances (e.g. receiving your salary and paying for housing). After your arrival you will get instructions on how to open a bank account from the HR department or from the Immigration Service Desk (ISD).

If you already have a European bank account with an IBAN, you do not have to apply for a Dutch bank account as the Single Euro Payments Area (SEPA) enables you to make and to receive transfers in the Netherlands. However, you can open a Dutch bank account if you still wish to have one.

Keep in mind that most Dutch banks require a Citizen Service Number (BSN) the moment that you apply for the account. You get a BSN within a few weeks after you have registered at the City Hall.

Please be informed that administrative procedures may cause a delayed salary payment in the first month of your employment at the University. It is therefore advisable to bring some financial reserves for the initial period of your appointment.

Entering the Netherlands with money worth € 10,000 or more

If you will be bringing more than (the equivalent of) € 10,000 in cash you will need to declare this at customs. When you deposit your cash into your Dutch bank account, the bank will ask for a copy of your declaration form. If you do not make a declaration, you run the risk of receiving a fine. Please visit the website of the Dutch Customs Administration for more information on this subject.

How to pay

Four basic payment methods are recognized in the Netherlands: cash, PIN/contactless payment, credit card, or bank transfer. PIN/contactless payment and cash payment are the most common methods. A PIN card (in Dutch: pinpas) is connected to your bank account. You can pay by simply entering a four-digit Personal Identification Number (PIN), just as you would at an ATM machine. You can also make contactless payments with your PIN card without having to enter your PIN. Payment by credit card is less common in smaller shops and supermarkets. However, restaurants, hotels and department stores generally accept all major cards. The bank transfer can be used when you buy from online stores.


The currency of the Netherlands is the euro, written as €. A euro is divided into one hundred cents. There are coins and banknotes, each denomination has a different size and color.

Foreign exchange

The exchange rate is fixed every day and will be displayed at every foreign exchange office. All banks offer the same rates, but their charges for foreign exchange may vary. The largest foreign exchange specialist in the Netherlands is GWK Travelex with offices located at railway stations, airports, and popular tourist locations.

Health matters

General Practitioners

For medical problems you can consult a general practitioner or family doctor. In the Netherlands a general practitioner (GP) or family doctor is called a 'huisarts'. GPs can be visited during consulting hours, after making an appointment by telephone. We strongly advise you to register with a GP as soon as possible. To find one you can ask your neighbours or your student manager for advice.

Please take notice of the following:

  • In the Netherlands you are not permitted to go directly to the hospital unless it is an emergency. If treatment by a specialist is needed, you should first consult a GP, who will give you a referral letter. Remember to make a photocopy of the referral letter for your medical insurance company.
  • Remember to take your insurance papers with you whenever you visit a GP, dentist, hospital or pharmacy.
  • Do not forget to make an appointment before going to any GP surgery.
After-hours GP service: Doktersdienst Groningen

GPs share duties after working hours. Should you urgently need the help of a GP at night, during the weekend or on public holidays, you should call the Doktersdienst Groningen. In most cases, they will ask you to come over for a consultation.

Never come to the Doktersdienst without an appointment, always call first. This way, you can help prevent long waiting times for yourself and others.

Doktersdienst Groningen
Van Swietenplein 2B, 9728 NZ Groningen (to the left of the main entrance of the Martini Hospital)
Tel: 0900 - 92 29* (€0,10 per minute). Keep your insurance card at hand when you call!

* Note: In case of an emergency, call 112

Hospital and emergencies
General practitioner or hospital

Every hospital provides first-line care in the event of an accident or emergency. However, in the Netherlands it is not usual to go to the hospital for minor symptoms like headaches or stomach aches. Therefore, unless you have a serious symptom you should always first go to your general practitioner (GP). The reason for this is that emergency rooms are very expensive and, if your condition is not life threatening, you will be sent to your GP anyway. However, if your GP thinks it is necessary for you to go to the hospital he or she will give you a referral for the proper specialist.

Bring your insurance papers to the hospital

At the hospital, look for the entrance marked EHBO or Eerste Hulp (First Aid). The first time you go to a hospital to see a specialist or to have tests or emergency treatment, remember to take your insurance papers with you. Tell the staff at the reception desk that you are a new patient. The hospital will then register your details and give you a plastic card (ponsplaatje), which you must show each time you attend the hospital.

Groningen has two hospitals:
University Medical Center Groningen (UMCG)
Hanzeplein 1, 9713 GZ Groningen
Tel + 31 (0)50 361 61 61
Martini Hospital
Van Swietenplein 1, 9728 NX Groningen
Tel + 31 (0)50 524 52 45

Pharmacies and drugstores

In the Netherlands there is a difference between a pharmacy (apotheek) and a drugstore (drogist). If the doctor or specialist gives you a prescription for medication, you must take it to a pharmacy. A drugstore only sells toiletries and drugs for minor complaints such as headaches, toothache, colds and flu that do not require a prescription. Strong medication is only available on prescription and is prepared at a pharmacy. Each area of the city has at least one pharmacy. Pharmacies observe regular office hours, but the central pharmacy opposite the main entrance of the University Medical Center Groningen (UMCG) is open 24 hours a day.

Importing Medication

Visitors should be aware that not all medication may be brought into the Netherlands. Some medication may not be recognized as such and may even be classified as drugs. Most common medication can be bought in the Netherlands. For other medication, your doctor will issue a prescription to take to a pharmacy.

Pharmacy Hanzeplein ( Apotheek Hanzeplein )
Hanzeplein 122
9713 GW Groningen
tel: + 31 (0)50 311 50 20
fax: + 31 (0)50 311 50 21

* Remember to take your insurance papers with you whenever you visit a GP, dentist, hospital or pharmacy.

Psychological help

For psychological help you need to consult your GP. Your GP will give you a referral letter to take with you to a psychologist. Most GPs cooperate with one or more psychologists and can advise you whom to contact.

Please note that your insurance company may not cover psychological help. Please contact your insurance company for more information.


If you need a dentist, please contact the information desk at the Department of Dentistry at the faculty of Medical Science for an appointment. You must pay cash for a consultation. Remember to check whether dental care is included in your insurance package. If it is, ask for a receipt in order to get a refund from your insurance company later. If you are here for a long period of time and need a simple check-up be aware that you will be placed on a waiting list, meaning that it may take a couple of weeks before you get an appointment. However, you will be given an appointment immediately for emergency dental care.

Please note that the Dutch basic healthcare insurance does not cover dental care. In order to be covered (partly) for dental care, you will have to take out an additional package.

Department of Dentistry (Centrum voor Tandheelkunde en Mondzorgkunde)
Antonius Deusinglaan 1
9713 AV Groningen
Opening hours: Monday to Thursday 8 a.m. - 5 p.m.; Friday 8 a.m. - 12 p.m.
Appointments by tel. + 31 (0)50 363 75 05*
Emergency telephone number (only after 5 p.m.): +31 (0)50 535 03 70

* Note: Answering machine is only in Dutch! When you call you will get the options menu. Do not hang up, you will be automatically connected to a receptionist.

Bringing family members

Start preperations early

When bringing family members it is advisable to spend some time preparing their stay in the Netherlands in order to avoid delays. You need to take into account that issues such as visa requirements, insurance, finding work and schools need to be taken care of for each family member.

Take into account the application costs and the legalisation of documents

Most importantly, you need to take into account the costs for the visa and/or residence permit applications (if applicable) and the legalisation of the birth certificate(s) and your marriage certificate. For more information on family applications, please refer to the heading Application Procedure.

Family members require a basic health care insurance

Due to your status as an employee, your family members are also required to take out the basic healthcare insurance. Your family members can apply for insurance after having received their Citizen Service Number (BSN) (Immigration Services). You do not have to pay for insurance for children under 18.

Health insurance for the first months

Please note: partners and children of non-EU/EEA employees with a non-EU/EEA nationality cannot take out Dutch healthcare insurance until their residence permit cards have been issued. If the above applies, it is strongly advised to arrange proper healthcare insurance in your home country for your partner and children, valid in the Netherlands for at least four months after their arrival here.


The Dutch common term for daycare is kinderopvang, which covers options such as host parents, daycare facilities and nursery school. Please be aware that the demand for daycare facilities is high. In fact, it is not unusual for the waiting period to be more than 6 months for certain facilities.

Childcare allowance

As an employer, the University of Groningen is obliged to contribute to the childcare allowance which parents receive from the government by means of a levy. University staff members can contact the allowances and benefits department (Toeslagen) of the Dutch Tax Department to request childcare allowance.

Salary or scholarship from outside of the Uiversity of Groningen

Please note that the University is your employer if you receive a salary (not scholarship) from the University. If you do not receive a salary from the University, but you receive a scholarship from a institution in or outside the Netherlands, please contact the PhD Scholarship Desk in order to find out if you are eligible; we advise you strongly not to apply if you do not know whether you are eligible.

For more information, please contact the SKSG customer information service, tel. 050-3171390, or via WhatsApp: 06 49494921.

Education system
Primary school and school for secondary education

In the Netherlands, children are obligated to attend school at 5 years of age. They first go to a primary school (basisschool) which takes approximately 8 years and then they will continue their education at another school for secondary education (middelbare school). Depending on the type of secondary education, they attend secondary school 4, 5, or 6 years approximately.

Compulsory education

Compulsory education (leerplicht) in the Netherlands applies to all children between 5-16. They are required by law to attend school. Compulsory schooling ends at the end of the school year in which the child turns sixteen. Because of compulsory schooling, schools will not give permission to take children on holidays outside the official holiday periods.

More information about the Dutch education system can be found at the following websites:


Dutch financial system

Income tax

The University will withhold the relevant income tax amount from your salary and transfer it to the tax authorities. The Netherlands has a progressive tax system which means that the amount of income tax deducted from your salary depends on how much you earn.

For more information on taxes please consult the website of the Tax and Customs Administration and the website of Euraxess.

Country of residence

In some cases, we need to establish what your country of residence is, i.e. when you live and/or work abroad. It is important to establish in which country you are taxable. Please contact HR for more information (

Scholarship or self-funded

If you do not receive a salary from the University, but you receive a scholarship from the University, from another institution or if you finance your own stay, please contact PhD Scholarship Desk (

Social security

When you are employed by the University of Groningen you become a civil servant and you will be covered under the Dutch social security system. However, if you are simultaneously employed by another, (foreign) employer, HR Services has to be informed because it needs to be established if you should be excluded from the Dutch social security system.

General information about the Dutch social security system can be found on the website of the Sociale Verzekeringsbank (SVB).

Pension system
The ABP pension system

As of the date of your appointment you will be automatically registered as a participant in the Dutch pension system for civil servants, ABP. If you feel that you were erroneously registered or that the registration date is incorrect, please send a written request for further investigation to the ABP within 6 weeks after receiving confirmation of your registration.

Transfer pension rights accrued elsewhere

If you have accrued pension rights in a previous position that do not dovetail with the pension scheme for civil servants, you may be faced with a loss of pension rights. According to the ABP regulations you have the right to transfer pension rights accrued elsewhere to your new pension scheme. In order to do this, you must submit a written request for an offer for value transfer to the ABP pension system within 6 months after the date of appointment. Whether or not your request will be honoured will (partly) depend on the coverage ratio of the pension fund concerned.

Deregistration from the ABP pension system

You will be deregistered from the ABP pension system as of the end date of your appointment. It is not possible to have accrued pension values paid out at the end of the appointment period.

More information

For more information please consult the ABP website (in English). Here you can also find detailed information about transferring pension accruals from another country to the Netherlands and vice versa.

Useful links and books
  • 'The Low Sky. Understanding the Dutch', Han van der Horst, ISBN 90 5594 199 9
  • 'Living in Holland', Marilyn Warman, ISBN 90 5464 033 2
  • 'The Holland Handbook'
  • Connections magazine
    • Connecting in the Northern Netherlands: An Expatriate Information Guide
    • Kids Guide to the Northern Netherlands
    • Working and Studying in the Northern Netherlands: A practical guide for foreigners
    • Having a Baby in the Northern Netherlands
Last modified:09 July 2024 09.22 a.m.