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UPDATED: NETHERLANDS – Work Permits for Japanese Nationals Reintroduced from 1 January 2017

The Immigration and Naturalisation Service (IND) of the Netherlands has announced that, effective 1 January 2017, employers of Japanese nationals are once again required to obtain work permits for their Japanese national employees.

UPDATE: On 18 July it was announced that the planned date of implementation has been postponed from 1 October 2016 to 1 January 2017.

What is the Impact of the Change?

  • Employers in the Netherlands looking to employ Japanese nationals after 1 January 2017 will need to submit work permit applications for them;
  • Japanese nationals who currently have a Dutch residence permit allowing them to work in The Netherlands without a work permit, are allowed to continue under this status for the remainder of their permit duration (even after 1 January 2017);
  • This transitional arrangement will not apply to Japanese nationals applying to renew their residence permits from 1 January 2017, who will also require a work permit.


Japanese nationals became work permit exempt as of December 2014 based on a judgement by the Council of State, the highest court of the Netherlands, which made a link between the Dutch-Japanese Trade treaty and the Dutch-Swiss Friendship treaty, interpreting the most-favoured nation principle enshrined in the Dutch-Japanese treaty as to imply that Japanese nationals should be treated equally with Swiss nationals and have free access to the Dutch labor market.

However, on 20 June 2016 the Dutch Foreign Ministry published an interpretation of the Dutch-Swiss Friendship treaty with the conclusion that entry, residence and access to the labor market remains a national matter to be regulated by national governments. According to the IND, this declaration requires Japanese nationals wanting to work in the Netherlands to secure work authorisation again. The Council of State, still needs to adjudicate on whether this interpretation is in line with the Kingdom’s constitution. A judgement which may bring legal certainty is expected within six weeks.

Action Items

  • Companies planning to employ Japanese nationals in the Netherlands are advised to submit an application before 1 January 2017 to benefit from the existing work permit exemption.

This news alert was prepared using information provided by Expat Management Group (EMG) and V&A Group.

DISCLAIMER: The information contained in this immigration alert has been abridged from laws, court decisions, and administrative rulings and should not be construed or relied upon as legal advice. If you have specific questions regarding the applicability of this information, please contact Peregrine © 2021 Peregrine Immigration Management Ltd.