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Education Exchange Study in Groningen Living in the Netherlands

Health services

Everyone residing in the Netherlands is required by law to have valid health insurance, so you will need to be properly insured by an internationally recognized insurance agency. International students are not automatically ensured. There are various types of health insurance: the kind of health insurance that will apply to you will depend on various factors, including your country of origin, age, whether you are employed in the Netherlands and the duration of your stay. Check the information provided by NUFFIC on healthcare insurance for international students in the Netherlands to find out which health insurance you most likely need.

Dutch Public Health Care Insurance

You are obligated to take out Dutch public healthcare insurance if you:

  • Are over 30 years old and your stay in the Netherlands is not temporary, or
  • Have a (part-time) job or paid internship in the Netherlands, or
  • Are a PhD Scholarship student, participating in the PhD Scholarship Programme

If you’re required to take out Dutch public health insurance, you may also be eligible for zorgtoeslag (health care benefits). Check the Belastingdienst page for more information.

Consult Zorgwijzer for an overview of the different basic health insurances available. The website compares different insurances, including what they cover and what they cost. Please note: Dutch healthcare insurance covers the cost of basic medical care (the so-called basisverzekering). It does not include liability insurance, home insurance, or travel insurance. You can take out an additional insurance package at AON for these.

EU Health Insurance Card (EHIC)

If you don’t qualify for Dutch Health Insurance and you come from somewhere in the EU, you can use an EU Health Insurance Card (EHIC). You can get the EHIC from your own insurance company in your home country if you are insured under a national health service. With the EHIC, you will not have to pay for treatments that are free for local residents in the Netherlands, and you may be eligible for reimbursements. This insurance does not, however, cover liability insurance, home insurance, or travel insurance. You can take out an additional insurance package at AON for these.

Private Health Care Insurance

If you are a non-EU/EEA student, you will need to take out Private Health Care insurance. Please check what your insurance company covers, and how much coverage you have during your time in the Netherlands. If your health insurance doesn’t cover your stay in the Netherlands, you can apply for private health care insurance through AON online. This insurance does include liability-, home insurance and travel insurance.

Health Services

Emergency Situations

The number to call in an emergency or life-threatening situation in the Netherlands is 112. Dialling this number will put you in touch with police, firemen, and health practitioners.

For non-emergency related police matters, call 0900-8844 (with a Dutch phone number) or 31-34 357 8844 (with a non-Dutch phone number).

If you are experiencing suicidal thoughts and need to talk to somebody, the number of the national suicide prevention hotline is 0800-0113.

General Practitioner (Huisarts)

In the Netherlands, the General Practitioner (GP) or family doctor is your first point of contact. Be sure to sign up with a GP as soon as possible – don’t wait until you are sick - because you need to be registered with a GP before you can make an appointment.

Ten Ways the Dutch Health Service may be Different from What You Know:

  1. The Dutch emergency services number is 112.
  2. Health care insurance is mandatory in the Netherlands.
  3. You may not go directly to the hospital unless it’s an emergency.
  4. You must always make an appointment before you go to a GP practice.
  5. If you need a specialist, you must get a referral letter from your GP first. Remember to make a copy of this referral letter for your insurance company.
  6. You must take your health insurance card with you when you visit a GP, dentist, hospital or pharmacy.
  7. Dentistry is not covered by basic Dutch health insurance policies.
  8. There is a distinct difference between what a pharmacy (apotheek) and a drugstore/chemist (drogist) sells.
  9. Dutch doctors have a professional code that forbids them from passing on information about their patients, even to the authorities.
  10. You can get anonymous tests, treatments and vaccinations via the GGD.

Here you'll find a few possible GP's in Groningen, but you are at liberty to choose any other GP.

Through this website you'll find an extensive list with GP's in Groningen and Leeuwarden.

If you urgently need the help of a GP at n ight, during the weekend or on a public holiday, you should call the Out-of-hours Medical Services:


Huisartsen spoedpost Groningen: With a Dutch phone number: 0900-9229 and with a non-Dutch phone number: +31 88 - 330 1300. (Out-of-hours: 17:00-08:00 hrs and during the weekend).


Dokterswacht Friesland: With a Dutch phone number: 0900 - 112 7 112 and with a non-Dutch phone number: 088 - 112 7 112 (Out-of-hours: 17.00-8.00 hrs, during the weekends between Friday 17.00 and Monday 8.00 and on holidays from 8.00 till 8.00 the next working day.


Dental- and oral medicine is privatised in the Netherlands and is generally not covered by basic insurance policies. Be sure to check if dentistry is covered by your insurance package; if it is, make sure to keep your receipt so you can get a refund from your insurance company.

Hospitals and Emergencies

In the Netherlands, hospital visits are reserved for emergency situations and specialist care. Unless you need emergency care, always contact your GP first. Your GP will refer you to a specialist if required. Emergency rooms are expensive, and hospitals will send you back to your GP if your situation is not life-threatening.

If there is an emergency or a life-threatening situation, call 112, the emergency services number. The operator will contact the police, fire station, or hospital for you. Every hospital has an EHBO or Eerste Hulp (First Aid) area for accidents and emergencies. Always remember to take your health insurance card with you.

Groningen has two hospitals:

University Medical Center Groningen (UMCG)

Hanzeplein 1, 9713 GZ Groningen

Tel +31 (0)50 361 61 61

Universitair Medisch Centrum Groningen

Martini Hospital

Van Swietenplein 1, 9728 NX Groningen

Tel +31 (0)50 524 52 45

Martini Ziekenhuis

Leeuwarden has one hospital:

Medisch Centrum Leeuwarden

Henri Dunantweg 2, 8934 AD Leeuwarden

Tel +31 (0)58 286 66 66

Medisch Centrum Leeuwarden


In the Netherlands, there’s a distinct difference between what a pharmacy (apotheek) and a drugstore/chemist (drogist) sell. You’ll find toiletries and medicines for minor complaints, such as headaches, at a drugstore/chemist. If you receive a prescription for medicine from your doctor or specialist, you must take this to an apotheek. You need to register with your local apotheek, in the same way you need to register with your GP. Most GPs have an apotheek nearby where you can register, but at least each area in the city has one apotheek with regular office hours. The central apotheek opposite the main entrance of the UMCG is open 24 hours a day. The apotheek next to the main entrance of the MCL in Leeuwarden is open daily between 8.00 and 21.00. After 21.00 and on the weekends they are only open for emergencies. Please note that not all medication can be brought into the Netherlands. The Dutch embassy in your country will be able to tell you whether you need a medical certificate for your medication.

Vaccinations, tests and anonymous treatment

You can find out more about health-related topics at the Public Health Department (Gemeenshappelijke Gezondheidsdienst or GGD). They also perform vaccinations and tests for diseases. Please note that you have the option to remain anonymous if you visit the GGD. If you come from a high-risk area, you will be required to take a test for tuberculosis at the GGD as a precondition for obtaining your residence permit. A second test is not compulsory, though highly recommended by the GGD.

Last modified:23 December 2022 12.25 p.m.