Many legal matters apply specifically to parents living in the Netherlands. Knowing your rights as a mother or father, and abiding by Dutch law, will enable you to give your children the best possible care and opportunities. You can read about benefits, leave from work and legal obligations for those living with kids in the Netherlands, on this page.

If you are expecting a baby, take a look at our page about ‘Maternity leave in the Netherlands‘. Holland has laws for parents-to-be as well!

Let’s start at the very beginning of your child’s life:

Registering your new baby in NL

In the Netherlands, you are legally obliged to register the birth of your newborn. There are some rules surrounding this process:

  • You must register your baby at the town hall. The town hall is called the ‘gemeentehuis’ in Dutch
  • This must be completed within three working days of your baby’s birth
  • Registration of your newborn must take place at the town hall of the municipality in which your baby was born. Your baby cannot be registered at the town hall of your local municipality if he or she was born outside of your hometown
  • A baby’s father usually performs this legal task
  • If neither parent is able to register their baby, it must be done by someone who was present during the birth

Documentation for Registration

What do you need in order to register your baby in the Netherlands?

  • Valid proof of identity, for the person registering the birth
  • Valid proof of identity for the mother of the child
  • A certified copy of your marriage license, if you are married
  • Proof of the recognition of the baby. We explain what this means below
  • The child’s birth certificate, supplied by a doctor, hospital or midwife
  • A certificate, stating the choice of the baby’s last name

Tip

Check in with your Gemeentehuis

The last thing you want, when you are celebrating and recovering from the birth of your new baby, is hassle. Therefore, we recommend that you ask your own Gemeentehuis which documentation they need to see. Requirements may vary from one municipality to another.

International Birth Certificates

  • When you are registering the birth of your baby at the municipality, we advise you to ask for an ‘International Birth Certificate
  • You will have to pay an additional fee for this. However, as expat parents, it will make future legal matters more straightforward for you
  • Unless one or both parents of a baby are Dutch, the child will not have an inherent right to a Dutch passport simply because he or she was born in the Netherlands
  • An International Birth Certificate will help you to register your baby with your embassy or consulate, and to apply for his or her passport

Legally recognising a baby in NL

Another legal matter you need to take care of as a new parent in the Netherlands, is ‘recognizing’ your child.

Unmarried Parents

If you and your partner are unmarried:

  • The father must legally recognize the baby
  • This can be done prior to his or her birth. Alternatively, it could be done when you are registering your baby at the town hall. Or, the recognition can take place at a later date
  • Usually, the baby’s mother must be present as well

Professional Advice

How do you go about recognizing your newborn’s birth?

  • If you are a father wishing to recognize your child, and you do not have Dutch nationality, ask a civil servant from your municipality to make sure recognition is possible for you
  • Recognizing your baby is a formality that must take place at the town hall closest to your residence
  • You should not go to the town hall where you registered your child’s birth, if it was not in your municipality. If you registered the birth at your local municipality then, of course, go there for the recognition as well!
  • Again, we recommend that you ask your municipal offices, or your lawyer, to verify which documents you will need to bring with you and whether there are any other requirements you need to meet

Parents of Different Nationalities

  • If a baby’s mother is not Dutch, and his or her father is, the baby will not automatically be given Dutch nationality
  • If you want your child to automatically have Dutch nationality, the father of the baby must legally recognize him or her before the birth
  • A child with a Dutch father can acquire Dutch nationality, until he or she is 7 years of age
  • Children who are older than 7 must have a DNA test, and be recognized by their father, before they can acquire Dutch nationality 

What’s the Point?

What does recognizing a child actually mean?

  • Legal recognition is a way of officially taking responsibility for the well-being of a child, until they reach 21 years of age
  • If a father legally recognizes his baby, it is meant to demonstrate that there is a family relationship between father and child
  • This, in turn, means the father has a duty to support his child. His legally recognized offspring also have a right to his inheritance, should he pass away
  • Legal recognition does not mean that a father automatically has parental authority over his child
  • Parental authority is only allocated automatically if parents are married, or registered as partners
  • If parents are neither registered as partners, nor married, then they must make a formal request to have authority over their children before a court

Child Benefit it the Netherlands

Dutch child benefit is called ‘kinderbijslag‘. You are entitled to Dutch child benefit under any of the following conditions. You have

  • A child
  • An adopted child
  • A step or foster child
  • Raised and/ or care for a child as if he or she were your own
  • Moved to the Netherlands with a child. If this applies to you, you must contact the ‘Sociale Verzekeringsbank to request Dutch child benefit. The Sociale Verzekeringsbank’ is the Dutch ‘Social Insurance Bank’. It is often referred to as the ‘SVB’

You must also be living in the Netherlands, working for a Dutch employer, and paying Dutch wage taxes.

Securing Child Benefit

How do you get child benefit in the Netherlands?

  • After you have registered your child’s birth, the municipal offices will forward your data to the Dutch Social Insurance Bank
  • Within a few days you will receive a registration form. Fill out the form, in order to apply for child benefit
  • Payment is made on a quarterly basis
  • It will come directly into your bank account until your child is 18 years of age

Amount of Child Benefit

The amount of child benefit you will qualify for is based on the age of your child. You should receive: 

  • € 198.38 if your child is aged 0-5
  • € 240.89 if your child is aged 6-11
  • € 283.40 if your child is aged 12-17

You will only receive child benefit for children aged 16 and 17 if they are attending schoolThey must be following one of these programs: HAVO, VWO or MBO. For more information on these acronyms, check out our article on the Dutch education system. Or, visit: www.svb.nl

Child allowance in NL

On January 1st, 2009, ‘Child allowance‘ was introduced into the Netherlands. It is called the ‘kindgebonden budget’ in Dutch and, like Child benefit, it is another subsidy available to those living with children in Holland. Here are the details:

  • It is paid out by the Dutch tax authorities
  • The amount of child allowance you are given depends on your income, and the number of children you have
  • Parents are eligible for a maximum of €1,142 per year if they have one child
  • If they have two children, they could qualify for as much as €2,040
  • Parents of two will be allowed a further €285 per year, per subsequent child
  • You will be offered an additional amount of child allowance once your child reaches the age of twelve, and a further additional amount when he or she reaches 16

Child Allowance Eligibility

  • To qualify, parents must either have Dutch nationality or a valid Dutch residence permit
  • Parents must be receiving child benefit for their child, unless he or she is 16 or 17 years old and no longer attends school. If your child is not enrolled in a school, you will not be eligible for child benefit 
  • The amount of child allowance you are given does not affect how much child benefit money you are allocated
  • Since 2016, single parents are able to receive a maximum child allowance of €3,076
  • Child allowance replaced an older system. In the past, parents in the Netherlands would receive an income tax deduction instead of a payment

Breast feeding Laws

The Dutch word for breastfeeding is: ‘borstvoeding‘. There are specific laws about breastfeeding in the Netherlands:

  • Dutch Employers must provide their breast-feeding employees with a quiet area in which to breast-feed, or express milk. The restroom does not count!
  • If it is not feasible for an employer to set aside an actual room, then he or she must allow their employee to find an appropriate spot. Or, the employee must be allowed to visit her baby back home
  • Feeding/expressing time is considered to be work time. Therefore, it will not lead to a reduction in a mother’s wages
  • A maximum of one quarter of a breastfeeding employee’s normal working hours may be used for breast feeding or expressing
  • She can use her working hours for breastfeeding until her child is nine months old
  • If you are working and pregnant, discuss your options and make arrangements with your employer about when and where you can breast feed, before your pregnancy leave begins

Short term care leave in NL

In the Netherlands, you are allowed to take some short term care leave from work if you have to care for a sick: child, foster child, partner or parent. Short care leave is called: ‘zorgverlof‘ in Dutch.

In order to take short term care leave, there are a few conditions that must be met:

  1. The care must be really necessary
  2. You must be the only person who can provide the care

Your Right to Leave in NL

Your employer may ask you for proof of these conditions. He or she may, however, only refuse to grant you short term care leave on substantial company grounds. Here are the facts about this legal matter:

  • By law, an employee in the Netherlands has the right to take a maximum of twice the number of hours he or she works in one week off, per year
  • So, if you work 36 hours a week, you have a right to 72 hours of leave in a year. If you work 32 hours a week, you have a right to 64 hours of leave, and so on
  • This type of leave does not have to be taken up in one go
  • An employer is obligated to continue to pay you at least 70% of your wages when you are taking short term care leave. He or she can also pay you no less than the minimum wage
  • Your industry’s CAO (Collective Labor Agreement), or your company’s regulations, may have additional rules about short term care leave. Be sure to ask your employer about this
  • If your child, partner or parent suddenly falls ill, and you have to leave work immediately, this first day will be classed as ‘Calamity Leave’. Read on to find an explanation of this kind of leave. Short term care leave will start the next day

Long Term care leave in NL

In the Netherlands, you have the right to take up annual leave in order to care for a terminally ill, or potentially terminally ill, family member for a longer period of time. Here is what you need to know about long term care leave, or ‘Langdurend Zorgverlof ‘:

  • You can use long term care leave to care for anyone in your family, including: children, foster children, partners, parents, grandparents, grandchildren, siblings, aunts and uncles
  • You can also take long term care leave to care for anyone else living with you, or anyone who relies on you and with whom you have a social relationship. This means that you can care for a friend or a neighbor if you wish
  • The person who requires your help need not be critically ill, in order for you to be eligible for long term care leave. If they are dependent on your help, this will be sufficient

Length of Leave

How much long term care leave can you take in the Netherlands?

  • You have the right to a yearly maximum of six times the number of hours you work, per week, to take as long term care leave. This means that if you work 40 hours a week, you have the right to 240 hours of long term care leave per year
  • Long term care leave cannot be taken for more than 12 consecutive weeks
  • Whilst you are taking your long term care leave, you are meant to work at least 50% of your usual working hours
  • If this does not work for you, talk to your employer. You could take, for example, a condensed 100% of your leave over six weeks if this works better for you both. Alternatively, you could take up your leave in ‘chunks’, provided you do so within 18 weeks 
  • Again, this can only be refused on substantial company grounds
  • In principle, you have no income over the hours that you do not work
  • Make sure you ask your employer, and check your collective labor agreement (CAO), to see whether different rules apply to you

Calamity Leave in NL

In the Netherlands, ‘Calamity leave is intended to be taken when an unforeseen situation arises and means that you have to leave work at short notice. 

Cause for Calamity Leave

You might take calamity leave if you:

  • Have to find a babysitter at short notice
  • Need to care for a child, who has suddenly fallen ill
  • Need a plumber urgently because the water pipes have burst at your home
  • Suffer the sudden death of a family member
  • Have to register the birth of your newborn child

Duration of Calamity Leave 

  • In principle, calamity leave is meant to be taken for just a couple of hours
  • Calamity leave can, however, be extended to a couple of days
  • Your employer must continue to pay you 100% of your wages whilst you are on calamity leave
  • If your calamitous circumstances mean that you need to take more than a few hours, or perhaps days, off work then you will have to take ‘Short Care Leave’ too. You can find a description of short care leave above. The time you take off work will automatically be converted into this short care leave after 24 hours

Side Note

Unpaid Leave in NL

  • Taking unpaid leave may affect your build-up of social security benefits, and your pension
  • Therefore, before taking up any kind of unpaid leave, we advise you to try and find out what the consequences will be

Care for handicapped children

There are special laws that apply to parents who care for a handicapped child in the Netherlands:

  • These parents are eligible for double child benefit. Dutch child benefit is referred to as: ‘kinderbijslag’ in Dutch, and is described above
  • The amount of support parents receive depends on the conditions set out by the Social Insurance Bank
  • Their child might be eligible to receive the Wajong‘ benefit

Disability Benefit in NL

The Wajong benefit is a Dutch disability benefit. A child receives it if:

  • They have become sick or disabled in a way that renders them permanently unable to work
  • They became sick or disabled in this way, before the age of 18
  • Or, whilst they were enrolled in higher education

Assistance from the Municipality

If a child is partially disabled, they have the right to receive assistance from the municipality in finding work later in life.

These measures replaced a system that used to exist in the Netherlands, referred to as: The TOG. The TOG gave Parents taking care of handicapped children some support with their household expenses. This benefit was abolished in 2015.

Last Will and testament

Preparing a Will is probably one of the most crucial legal matters you can take care of, to ensure the future well-being of your children. It is extremely important for expats to understand that not all foreign Wills are valid in the Netherlands! Whether or not your Will is valid here, depends on:

  • Your country of origin. The requirements for a valid Will in the country  you came from will have a bearing on its validity in the Netherlands
  • How the will has been drawn up, and whether the Netherlands has entered into a treaty on the matter with your country of origin

Why Make a Will?

  • If something were to happen to both you and your partner, the courts will appoint a guardian to care for your child
  • The word for guardian, in Dutch, is: ‘voogdij
  • Your child’s guardian should be the person you have chosen and named in your will
  • If your will does not state who you wish your child’s guardian to be, then a relative in your country of origin will be appointed
  • In order to guarantee that your child is allocated a guardian who you want and approve of, you must have a testament drawn up
  • This testament should be checked by a Dutch civil law notary. This person is called a ‘notaris’ in Dutch
  • Check online, or get a referral from a friend, for the name of a reliable civil law notary in your area

Vacations in NL: the legal side

In the Netherlands, there are laws surrounding how much vacation your child can take. Here are the facts of the matter:

  • According to Dutch law, all children in the Netherlands should be enrolled in ‘compulsory education‘ from the age of 5. The official term for compulsory education in the Netherlands is: ‘leerplichtig’
  • From this age, children must attend school, unless they are sick
  • Exceptions may be made for parents who are required to work during standard school holidays and vacations. Generally these parents will be allowed to take their children out of school for a maximum of 10 days
  • Extraordinary family situations such as special birthdays, anniversaries, illnesses or deaths are other exceptions to the usual rules
  • Dutch schools are very strict about vacations
  • They will require you to make a formal request, in writing, to take your child out of school. The request mist be submitted prior to taking your child out of school
  • International schools may have their own set of regulations – so when in doubt, ask!
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