Bureaucracy is tough in anywhere. But, this is especially true if you’re an international student in a country where you don’t speak the language. And, while the Netherlands is great about providing English information for some things, this is not the case when you’re applying for benefits. We’ve got you covered, though – here’s everything you need to know about Dutch government benefits.
As a student, there are probably only two toeslagen – or benefits – that you may qualify for: zorgtoeslag and/or huurtoeslag. We’ll explain them both in detail below.
If you’re planning on finding a part-time job (which we can help you with here) or even doing a paid internship, you’ll have to take out basic health insurance in the Netherlands, or so-called zorgverzekering. Here, you can choose from a variety of companies that all offer the same services for a similar price. These usually include reimbursements for GP consultations, prescription medications, specialist hospital care, ambulance transport and psychological care, usually costing around 135 euros a month.
As a student, this monthly fee can be an expensive hassle to pay. The good news? You can get all of it reimbursed by the government if you qualify as a ‘low-income citizen’.
To find out if you qualify for the healthcare benefit, you have to check a couple of boxes. First, you need to be an EU citizen to apply. If your home country is elsewhere, you’ll have to hold a valid residence permit or work visa if you plan on requesting the healthcare benefit. Second, your income also plays an important role: your annual salary cannot be more than 38,520 euros. You also cannot have savings amounting to higher than 127,582 euros.
Since you’re a student, it’s unlikely that you’re earning this much, nor do you probably have three figures just casually hanging out in your bank account. This means that the vast majority of (working) international students in the Netherlands are qualified to apply for the healthcare benefit.
Would you like to know exactly how much you can get reimbursed? You can use this handy calculation tool.
Now that you know all about the zorgtoeslag, it shouldn’t be hard to guess what the huurtoeslag is. It’s the same thing, just concerning your rent. If you qualify, the government will transfer you a monthly allowance to help cover your rent. It was designed to help out people whose rent is relatively high in relation to their annual income. Unsurprisingly, students often fall into this category.
The requirements for the rent benefit are a little bit trickier to understand than for the healthcare benefit. In essence, if the points below apply to you, then you should be eligible:
Basically, if you’re an international student who is living alone in their own apartment or studio, you will probably qualify for the rent benefit, as long as your rent is not higher than 808 euros. How much you’ll be reimbursed depends on your income. The easiest way to have all your questions answered is by doing this trial calculation.
Whether you’re applying for the healthcare or rent benefit or both, the process is similar. First, make sure that you’ve gotten your DigiD, which is the Netherland’s online identity verification system. Without one, you won’t be able to apply for the benefits – it’s a must for all things Dutch bureaucracy anyway. Fortunately, getting one isn’t much of a hassle. You can do this here.
Once you’re all set, go to the website of the Dutch tax authority – Belastingdienst. After you log in with your DigiD, you can apply for either benefit. After a couple of days, you’ll receive an email letting you know if you’re eligible or not.
Many international students don’t know that they qualify for these benefits, mainly because the application process is entirely in Dutch, making it difficult to know whether you’re doing everything correctly. Fortunately, if you get the Google Translate Chrome extension, you’ll be able to see the English translations of highlighted sections of Dutch text. This makes everything much easier! When in doubt, you can always ask a friend who speaks Dutch to help out too.
If anything ever changes in your living arrangement or income, make sure to report this to the tax authority as soon as possible. Otherwise, you may have to pay a part of the reimbursement sum back, which sort of counteracts the whole reason that you wanted to request the benefit in the first place – to save money.
Phew, we get it. Adulting is hard! But, hopefully, you now have a better grasp of how the toeslagen system works. This was everything you need to know about Dutch government benefits.
As this blog was published in April 2023, the information above may have changed in the meantime.