Some expats are required to pass the inburgeringsexamen (civic integration examinations), in order to qualify for or maintain permanent residence. Others have to pass the exams to move to the Netherlands as a partner / spouse of a Dutch national.

Those who are required to pass the exams, will be informed by Dienst Uitvoering Onderwijs – DUO (Education Implementation Service), when the residence permit application is being processed.

There are exemptions for certain situations where the exams are not required, these are detailed on the IND website.

The Civic Integration Act

The Civic Integration Act came into force in the Netherlands on 1 January 2007. The Act stipulates that most non-Dutch and non-EU nationals who immigrate to the Netherlands must learn Dutch and have an understanding of the workings of Dutch society. This is referred to as inburgeren (civic integration). The exams are taken either at test centres in the Netherlands, or at the Dutch Embassy in the country of residence, depending on a number of factors.

There is a charge for each exam, but the exams do not all have to be taken at once. Some applicants may be eligible for a loan to pay for lessons and tests, which is paid by DUO directly to the school where the lessons are taken.

The exams are made up of several components:

  • the language test (reading, writing, speaking, listening)
  • the Kennis van de Nederlandse Maatschappij - KNM test (Dutch society test)
  • and the Oriëntatie op de Nederlandse Arbeidsmarkt – ONA test (labour market), made up of 8-10 forms to prove that the applicant could apply for a job and complete an application successfully. If an applicant has a job already, this exam is not always required.
  • the participatieverklaring (statement of participation) which is signed after being called for a meeting with the municipality.

The language tests can be taken as part of the civic integration exam or the Staatsexamens NT2 (State exams Dutch as a second language) exam can be taken instead.