How to Become a Medical Doctor in Netherlands (7 Steps)

The Netherlands is a small, yet very famous and prosperous nation in Western Europe. It is one of the cleanest nations in the world, and people from all over the world immigrate to the country due to its ideal geographic location, civil freedom, highly developed economy, and many more reasons. Amsterdam is the most popular destination for immigrants, but other major cities like Rotterdam, the Hague, Eindhoven, and Utrecht are also popular.

If you are an aspiring or practicing doctor wishing to immigrate and start working in the Netherlands, this guide will go through all the steps you need to take and the requirements you need to fulfill to become a medical doctor in the Netherlands.

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1. Language requirements for a medical license in the Netherlands

To become a medical doctor in the Netherlands, you will have to have a very solid grasp of the Dutch language. A B2 level of Dutch is considered acceptable, but a level of C1 or C2 is generally recommended. The exam you need to take to prove your proficiency in the Dutch and English language is called the AKV test, which will test your general knowledge and skills. In order to pass, you will need to have a B2/C1 level of both English and Dutch, as well as show knowledge regarding the Dutch Health Care system.

Dutch is a relatively easy language to learn, especially for English and German speakers, and if you are dedicated enough, you can become fluent in about a year. This, of course, depends on your level of dedication and other factors such as your previous knowledge of Dutch-related languages.

2. Study Medicine in the Netherlands if possible

While the medical programs in the Netherlands are of very high quality, and every aspiring doctor would be lucky to attend one, they are also usually extremely competitive, forcing many Dutch students to attend medical schools abroad. This means that internationals have an even lesser chance to get into a medical school in the Netherlands, so it is generally recommended for them to seek to study somewhere else in Europe.

If, however, the student is persistent in his wish to study in the Netherlands, this is how medicine programs work in the country for a general practitioner. Students first have to acquire a BSc in medicine. This lasts for three years and there are a few universities that offer this program in English, but it is heavily recommended that the student starts learning Dutch as it will be necessary for the later stages of the study. The next step is to acquire an MSc in medicine which lasts for another 3 years and is only taught in Dutch. The final part of the program is a year-long training, in which students are required to work in Dutch hospitals.

3. Required Medical Tests to Become a Doctor in the Netherlands

If you wish to become a medical doctor in the Netherlands, you will need to prove that your language skills are sufficient enough for practicing your profession. Next, there are two additional exams that you will need to pass for the BIG register, which we will talk about in more detail below. The first exam is called the AKV exam, which will test your knowledge in Dutch and English, as well as your knowledge of the Dutch health care system. The second exam is the BI exam. This exam is only required for aspiring doctors who obtained their medical diploma internationally, and it makes sure that their skills are up to Dutch standards.

To be able to legally stay and work as a doctor in the Netherlands, you will need to have the appropriate visa. For EU/EEA citizens, this is not required, and if they have the necessary qualifications and registrations, can start working immediately.

4. Getting Medical License in the Netherlands

In order to become a licensed doctor in the Netherlands, you will first need to register in the BIG register. There are 13 professions that can apply for the BIG register. There are also a few requirements to apply. Naturally, you will need a medical diploma, as well as proof that you have sufficient knowledge of the Dutch language. If your diploma is from an international university, there are additional requirements that need to be met before you can apply to the BIG register, as you will need to prove that your skills and knowledge are equivalent to Dutch standards.

After this, you will also need to register with the Royal Dutch Medical Association (KNMG). After all of this is done, you are eligible to start working as a medical doctor in the Netherlands. Please note that these registrations last for 5 years, after which you will need to re-register.

5.  Getting Dutch Work Visa for Doctors

Expats from the EU/EEA are not required to have any sort of visa or residence permit in order to live and work in the Netherlands. Their travel ID is sufficient. There are also a few other countries whose citizens will have a much easier time immigrating to the Netherlands. Those countries are the United States, South Korea, Australia, and a few others, and expats from these countries are not required any visa to work in the Netherlands, but will need to obtain a residence permit upon entering the country.

For people outside these countries, the process is a little more complicated. Doctors are considered highly skilled workers in the Netherlands, so you should be eligible to apply for the Highly Skilled Migrant visa, which will allow you to reside and work in the Netherlands. In order to qualify for this visa, you will need a work contract for longer than 4 months, as well as proof that you will be earning a sufficient income.

6. How to Get a Job as a Doctor in the Netherlands

Generally, finding work in Dutch hospitals is extremely difficult because the country produces more junior doctors than it needs, and a lot of them have to opt to start working abroad. The situation is a little bit better when it comes to specialists and experienced medical professionals, but that too is extremely competitive. Some areas that you might have better luck with are nursing homes or regular check-ups for kids, but these positions usually come with a lower salary.

Considering you completed everything else before mentioned in this article, you are free to start your own practice in the Netherlands. Here you can see all the steps you need to follow to legally start your private practice in the country.

7. How to Become a Medical Doctor in the Netherlands from another country

If you obtained your degree from outside the EU, there are a few steps you need to take in order to become a doctor in the Netherlands. First, you need to apply for a long term stay visa in your local Dutch embassy. Note that you are not allowed to work with a travel visa, so only a longer one is acceptable. Before you even apply for the visa, you should already have a solid knowledge of the Dutch language, as you will need it to pass the KLV test.

Once you have the necessary language skills, and considering that you already have the medical knowledge, you can apply for the BIG registration which involves the KLV test and the BI exam. Depending on where you obtained your diploma, you will also likely be required to complete an internship at a Dutch University Hospital. After all of this is completed, you can be registered to work as a doctor in the Netherlands.


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