If you wish to work as a dentist in the Netherlands, you have to fulfil certain requirements. These range from a command of the Dutch language to having acquired legal permits and meeting regulations.
1. Registration as a dentist in the BIG (Individual Health Care Professions Act) register
The title of dentist is protected in the Netherlands. It may only be used by dentists who are listed in the BIG (Individual Health Care Professions Act) register. 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 in a Dutch clinic. For further information, visit the BIG register website.
If you have qualified as a dentist in the European Economic Area (EEA), learn more on our website about ‘Ten things to arrange’ in order to become a Dutch dentist.
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. Learn more about the general knowledge and skills test and the procedure here.
2. Work permit for persons from outside the EEA: UWV
People who move to the Netherlands from outside the 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. 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 EEA, but the procedures differ.
4. 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). This new rule was introduced following an amendment to the BIG Register Decree. This specifies that any person providing care must 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 take the General Knowledge and Skills (AKV) test instead of the Dutch language test. More information on the AKV test is available here.
Admissible evidence of language proficiency:
- a certificate of qualification from a Dutch-language vocational training programme
- both a primary and secondary education diploma from Dutch-language education institutions
- a Certificate of Professional Competence (valid for two years after issue)
- a certified certificate awarded after successful completion of the Dutch language test.*
*You can take the Dutch language test with Taleninstituut Babel. It awards a certificate with which you can demonstrate that you have achieved the level required under the BIG Register Act: Dutch at B2+ level and sufficient proficiency in interactive medical Dutch.
Providers of language courses (for healthcare workers) include the following.
- Babel has a wide range of Dutch language courses to offer and courses for foreign dentists. They offer language courses and official recognised certifications (for your BIG registration). Babel offers group courses as well as tailor-made ones. You can do a free online language test to assess your current Dutch skills.
- Dutch in Dialogue (DiD) provides specific tailor-made Dutch language courses for foreign dentists, orthodontists, and oral surgeons. DiD offers a free intake (including an assessment of your proficiency level), e-learning, and several online materials.
- The Taleninstituut Nederland offers a specialised programme of Dutch language courses for medical personnel. This enables dentists to start studying Dutch or to quickly expand their existing knowledge of the language. These language courses are tailor-made to suit individual clients’ needs, as well as those of groups of colleagues working in the same organisation or practice.
- Radboud In’to Languages in Nijmegen is the expertise centre for language and communication at Radboud University. In an Intensive Language Programme you will learn the language, understand the Dutch way of communicating and get insights into the Dutch healthcare system.
Other institutes include:
- Talencentrum Rijksuniversiteit Groningen, Groningen
- Talencentrum Universiteit Maastricht, Maastricht
- Vrije Universiteit, Faculteit der Letteren, Department Dutch as a second language, Amsterdam
- Lest Best, Utrecht
- Taleninstituut Regina Coeli, Vught
- Instituut Jeroen Bosch, Vught
The University of Groningen offers a free online introduction to Dutch several times a year: ‘Learn to speak, write and understand basic Dutch, with this free, three-week, introductory foreign language course’.
Lists of Dutch dentistry vocabulary
It can be quite a challenge to find a comprehensive list of translations of dentistry terminology. For this reason, DPA Dentistry and Dutch in Dialogue have both created their own list of translations of all the Dutch dentistry vocabulary they could think of into Spanish and English. Feel free to download and use this list, and if you have any improvements or suggestions, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
Dutch dentistry terms with English translations (Dutch in Dialogue list)
5. How do I find a job as a foreign dentist in the Netherlands?
There a different ways to find a job as a foreign dentist in the Netherlands. First of all, you could become a member of the KNMT, the largest association for oral care professionals in the Netherlands. Eighty per cent of all active dentists in the Netherlands are members of the KNMT. As a member, you will have unlimited access to the Dentistry Job Bank with many job openings all over the Netherlands. You can also register as a job seeker. Before you start working as a dentist, you have to be listed in the BIG register (visit the BIG register website here). Once you are registered, you can become a KNMT member and visit the Dentistry Job Bank. If you become a KNMT member within five months of obtaining your BIG registration, you will receive a nice discount on the membership fee. You can submit your question to the KNMT Members Service. They are available from 8:30 AM to 5 PM (T: +31 (0)30 607 6380). You can also submit your questions by email.
There are also several commercial companies that can help you to learn Dutch, obtain your BIG registration, find a job as a dentist, find a house, etc. For more information, you can contact organisations such as
6. Before you start work: register 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 KNMT can provide you with information on a complaints procedure (the KNMT Klachtenregeling) which meets these legal requirements, the KNMT Complaints Service.
Please call the KNMT Members Service for more information (T: +31 (0)30 607 6380), or submit your questions by email.
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 the KNMT Members Service, available workdays from 8:30 AM to 5 PM (T: +31 (0)30 607 6380). You can also submit your questions by email.
The KNMT has taken the utmost care in compiling the information in this overview. Nevertheless, the KNMT 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.