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How to find a GP in the Netherlands

Adjusting to life in a new country can be overwhelming. With finding new friends and keeping up with classes, it’s easy to forget the annoying yet important practicalities. For example, say you get sick and need to see a doctor, who will you call? Unfortunately, in the Netherlands, you need to register with a General Practitioner before being able to make an appointment. This is our guide on how to find a GP in the Netherlands. 

What is the function of a GP in the Netherlands?

While in other countries throughout Europe, a simple phone call to any doctor should get you an appointment, this is not the case in the Netherlands. Here, you usually have to see your huisarts - or General Practitioner - and describe your complaints, before being referred to a suitable specialist. This goes for matters of both your physical and mental health. 

In certain cases, when a separate appointment with a specialist is not necessary, GPs can also perform minor surgical or gynecological procedures.

How do I find a GP in the Netherlands? 

If you wait to call a GP until you’re sick, you risk not getting an appointment right away, due to long waiting lists. To prevent this, it’s a good idea to scope out practices in your area and register with one that you think might be a good fit. But, how do you know which GP practices you can choose from? 

It’s simple: go to the Zorgkaart Nederland website, select your city, and see what practices are located in it. Ratings also show you how other people have reviewed their experience with this practitioner. Alternatively, if you’d like to choose a GP within walking distance, you can also enter your zip code here

Usually, most practices will have no problem accommodating internationals who don’t speak Dutch. However, if you’d like to be extra safe, a good rule of thumb is to choose a GP based on whether they’ve translated their website to English. Big cities will also have practices and international health centers specifically intended for non-Dutch speakers. 

How do I register with a GP? 

In most cases, a GP’s website will tell you whether they have the space to accept new patients. If so, you'll usually be asked to fill in an online form. Once that’s done, most practices will require you to come by in person and confirm the registration by bringing various documents, like your passport, BSN, and insurance information. 

It’s also possible to request an initial appointment, where you can explain all aspects of your medical history to your new GP, as well as ask any questions you may have. If possible, bring your previous medical records and any information on current medication. 

How do I make an appointment? 

Once you’re all set, you’ll be able to make appointments with your new GP. How quickly you can get one depends on the size and popularity of the practice you’ve chosen, as well as the urgency of your complaint. Simply call the GP practice and the receptionist will ask you a couple of questions about your needs, before telling you the details of your appointment. 

Some practitioners have also digitalized their appointment process by allowing you to select a date and time online or via an app. But, when in doubt, calling is the most straightforward process. 

What if I’m not registered at a GP but I need to see a doctor? 

This scenario may arise for international students in the Netherlands. You forgot to register at a GP, but you caught a bad case of the flu and would like to have some medication prescribed. Now what? 

Fortunately, if this ever happens to you, you’ll have the option of calling the huisartsenpost in your city. They’ll listen to your concerns and - when needed - advise you to visit one of their GPs at the hospital. In emergencies, 112 should always be your go-to. 

As a final note, it’s also good to remember that all standard GP visits and most medications will be covered by any basic or student insurance. Coverage for specialist visits will vary. When in doubt, call your insurance provider. You may also qualify for the health insurance benefit from the Dutch government. Read all about that in our previous blog post here

We hope this has answered all your questions on how to find a GP in the Netherlands. Here’s to hoping that you’ll rarely have to make an appointment! 

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