Understanding the Dutch healthcare system

Dutch healthcare is regarded as among the best in the world and citizens in the Netherlands have access to both advanced treatments and preventative care. The government funds hospitals and long-term care through taxation, while medical insurance is used to pay for short-term treatment. It is mandatory to purchase at least basic health insurance, even if you are already insured in another country. Children under 18 years old are insured via their parents at no extra cost.

There is very little difference between private and public hospitals, with the quality of care being quite high of both. Keep in mind that you generally cannot see a specialist without obtaining a referral from your General Practitioner (GP). This is not universally so, so check ahead and save time. Should a referral be needed, be aware that you may find that you need to attend several GP appointments before one is given. That is why it is important to register at a GP soon after you arrive in the country. In most cases, you will need to register at a GP that is no more than 15 minutes travel distance from your home (exceptions apply). Part of the reason is that, if necessary, they can easily make a visit at your home!

Download the 'Healthcare in the Netherlands' brochure, produced by the Dutch Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport, for more information.


Finding the right school or childcare can be a challenge, especially when you are not familiar with the local system. While options for childcare are diverse and numerous, demand is high and waiting lists may be up to six months long, so it pays to be proactive. Note that some Dutch (and international) employers have their own childcare facilities. Your options:

  • Toddlers centre for children aged 2-4. Usually for a few hours per day. Toddlers centres are usually connected to a primary school.
  • Daycare centre for children aged 0-4. Service is offered by private providers. Opening hours typically range from early morning until 18.00/18.30.
  • Afterschool care. This is offered often in collaboration with primary schools and/or a daycare centre.
  • Babysitter, au-pair, live-in nanny, host parent.

Child daycare costs may be subsidized by the Dutch tax authorities when both parents are working. The child care benefit (kinderopvangtoeslag) can be applied for at the Dutch Tax authorities.

Let our partners help you

The Utrecht Region works with a number of official partners to assist you in finding the right healthcare facilities and advice. Please be aware that some of these partners may charge a service fee. Rest assured, our partners all meet our minimum criteria, such as having all relevant company information available in English (including website, flyers, forms etc) and agreeing to cooperate in our client monitoring project. We regularly request feedback from internationals to assess the quality of our partners' services, with their identity remaining private when we share it with our partners. Adjustments will be made to our partner list as appropriate. 

Check out our Online Services Map to find healthcare facilities and service providers in the Utrecht Region.