Requirements for working as a dentist in the Netherlands

If you wish to work as a dentist in the Netherlands, there are a number of requirements you will have to fulfill. These range from a command of the Dutch language to having acquired legal permits and meeting regulations. We list them below.

1. Register with the Immigration and Naturalisation Service: residence permit

People who move to the Netherlands and wish to remain in the Netherlands for longer than three months must register with the Dutch Immigration and Naturalisation Service (IND). This applies to people moving from inside the European Economic Area (EEA) as well as to those moving from outside the EU and EEA, but the procedures differ.

2. Work permit for persons from outside the EU and EEA: UWV

People who move to the Netherlands from outside the EU and European Economic Area (EEA) and wish to remain in the Netherlands for longer than three months usually need a work permit in order to work in the Netherlands. The relevant prerequisites are laid down in the Foreign Nationals Employment Act (WAV), and such a permit must be obtained from the Dutch Employee Insurance Schemes Implementing Body: the UWV.

3. Meet the BIG language requirement: Learn Dutch

As of 1 January 2017, all foreign dentists must demonstrate that they have a satisfactory command of the Dutch language (Dutch at B2+ level = sufficient proficiency and interactive medical Dutch). Any person providing care in the Netherlands must legally be able to communicate in a language that can be understood by the client – so foreign dentists working in the Netherlands must be able to speak Dutch.

The language requirement applies to:

  • dentists who have graduated in another European Union country or in Liechtenstein, Norway or Iceland;
  • dentists who have studied abroad with Dutch as their native language.

​If you have graduated outside of the European Union or a country mentioned above, you have to present language certificates that demonstrate that you have mastered Dutch and English proficiency in the right parts and at the right level.

More about learning Dutch for dentists

4. Registration as a dentist in the BIG register

The title of dentist is protected in the Netherlands. It may only be used by dentists who are listed in the BIG register (register of the Individual Health Care Professions Act). As a dentist, you will need to qualify for registration with and be included in the BIG register before you are able to secure a job as a dentist in a Dutch clinic. 

Registration in the BIG register

If you have qualified as a dentist outside the EEA or Switzerland, you cannot register directly. Your qualifications must first be recognised. You will need to apply for a Certificate of Professional Competence.

To determine whether this certificate can be issued, you have to undergo an assessment procedure. This entails taking a series of tests: a general knowledge and skills test, and a professional assessment.

The results of the tests determine whether you will be issued with a Certificate of Professional Competence or whether you will first need to undergo additional training.

Once you have the certificate, you can apply to be included in the BIG register. 

5. How do I find a job as a dentist in the Netherlands?

There are different ways to find a job as a foreign dentist in the Netherlands.

Dental recruitment agencies for example:

  • Trabajar en Holanda (website in Spanish)
  • BGB Dentistry (formerly known as DPA Dentistry)
  • Care Force
  • But there are others as well
  • Note: Some agencies work with strict and undesirable contracts and conditions. Make sure you are well-informed and request information from various agencies.

6. Registering with the Dutch Tax and Customs Administration

Before you start work, your employer must register you with the Dutch Tax and Customs Administration (Belastingdienst). In addition, if you are an employee, there are several insurance schemes for employees that are compulsory. Ask your employer for more information.

7. Complaints procedure

Dentists in the Netherlands are legally required to provide patients with the opportunity to submit a complaint if they are not satisfied. The easiest way to fulfill this requirement is to become a member of the KNMT. KNMT members automatically fulfill all legal requirements concerning a complaints procedure.

8. Obtaining a radiology certificate

Radiology certificates from other countries than the Netherlands legally cannot accepted by Dutch clinics. You therefore have to take a radiology course to be allowed to take x-rays from patients, for example the course offered by ACTA. (Dutch only)

9. Titer testing

To be able to prove that your body has produced enough antibodies against hepatitis B, which you are legally obliged to when working in a Dutch oral practice, it is important to do a titer test. The related document can be acquired by having a test done at a hospital or via a doctor. If you take this test in the Netherlands, you can be certain it will meet Dutch standards. The test can be done through your municipal public health service.

10. Becoming a KNMT member

Frankly, this is not a legal obligation, but definitely a good idea: if you come to work as a dentist in the Netherlands, join the KNMT, the Royal Dutch Dental Organisation. We are the largest association in the Netherlands for oral care professionals. We represent the interests of dentists and promotes the quality of dental care in the Netherlands. Also, we offer a training course to quickly get you settled in the Dutch way of working in dental care (link in Dutch). There are many good reasons to consider becoming a KNMT member!

Any further questions? Get in touch

If you are considering working as a dentist in the Netherlands and you have any further questions, you can always contact KNMT Ledenservice (Members Service), available workdays from 8:30 AM to 5 PM tel. 030- 60 76 380. You can also submit your questions by email.

Also, the Association of Foreign Certified Physicians (VBGA) offers help and information for doctors who have been trained abroad and who are working in the Netherlands or who want to work there.


The KNMT has taken the utmost care in compiling the information in this overview. Nevertheless, we cannot accept any liability for the accuracy of the information or any consequences that may result. No part of this publication may be copied, published or made available to third parties without the explicit written permission of the KNMT.