When moving to a new country, it is important to familiarise yourself with the healthcare system. Like most European countries, the Netherlands has the same objectives when it comes to their healthcare systems: the care provided must be of high quality, available to everyone, and affordable. On this webpage, you will find all the essential information about health insurance and healthcare in the Netherlands.

Do not hesitate to reach out to the Utrecht International Center if you have questions left unanswered. You can send us an email or visit us our information desk.

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How does it work?

Compulsory basic health insurance

Everyone who lives or works in the Netherlands is legally obliged to take out a standard health insurance within four months of registering with their local municipality. Children can be insured through their parents’ health insurance until they reach the age of 18. New-born children need to be registered with your insurance company within four months. And depending on your personal circumstances, the options for student health insurance for internationals vary.

Choosing your insurance

There are many health insurance companies (zorgverzekeraars) to choose from. If you wish, you can change insurers annually at the end of the year. A BSN (your unique citizen service number) is required to register for health insurance.

There is a basic health insurance, decided on by the government, and all health insurance companies must offer this essential plan without exception. They must also charge all holders the same premium regardless of age or state of health. The premium however can differ between insurance companies. If you would like to go beyond the basics, additional insurance can be taken out for things like dentistry, physiotherapy and various holistic therapies. In this case, insurance companies are not obliged to accept every applicant. Learn more about health insurances in the Netherlands on the website of the Dutch government.


Not sure what to choose? You can use the Zorgwijzer comparison tool to sift through the options and quickly compare most health insurance in the Netherlands. You can use filters and sign up to arrange insurance once you have made your decision. You may also visit the website of the health insurance company itself to sign up.

Hospitals and GPs

There is very little difference between private and public hospitals. Both offer high standards of care. Keep in mind that you generally cannot see a specialist without obtaining a referral from a GP. It is therefore important to register with a GP shortly after arriving in the Netherlands. In most cases, you will need to register with a GP that is no more than 15 minutes travel distance from your home (exceptions apply). Part of the reason is that, if necessary, the GP can visit you at home within a short period of time.

More information

To get a sense of how it all works, you can download the 'Healthcare in the Netherlands' or ‘Helping you navigate’ brochure. Find these and other interesting brochures and informative websites below.

If you require emergency medical care, call 112 - the emergency telephone number.

Get access

We advise you to familiarise yourself with the Dutch healthcare system and take the following steps to gain access:

  1. Register with your municipality to receive a citizen service number (BSN). To successfully apply for Dutch health insurance and gain access to the healthcare system, the insurance company will need a BSN.
  2. Arrange Dutch health insurance for you and your family members. In most cases, you are obliged to take out at least a basic level of health insurance and you must do so within four months of arrival, even if you already have other insurance that covers you in the Netherlands.
  3. Register with a general practitioner (GP) in your area, even if you do not immediately need a doctor. A GP, huisarts in Dutch, is the first point of contact for medical assistance and can refer you to specialists and hospitals.


Useful websites and brochures

Other settling-in topics