In July 2017, the new International Trade Regulation (the Regulation) entered into force. The Regulation broadens Dutch work permit exemption categories by adding an increased opportunity to have non-EU nationals perform work activities in the Netherlands on a temporary project without the requirement to obtain a work permit.


In order to make use of the Regulation, admission must be applied for with the Dutch work permit authorities (UWV). The application procedure can take up to five weeks (excluding preparation time). If UWV grants admission, the company will need to follow up with notifications to UWV regarding the individuals who will perform the work in the Netherlands (ultimately two days before they start).

UWV will make an assessment and overall weighing of the following terms and conditions before they decide to grant or decline the application for admission:

  • The scope, nature and duration of the project. The project should be of a temporary nature related to international trade. It can consist of collaboration, a partnership or an agreement for the delivery of goods or services in/from the Netherlands. It may also include attending or providing training, education and/or guidance to operate specific new machinery/equipment.
  • The scope and nature of the work activities to be performed by the non-EU nationals. Activities must be performed in the capacity of director-shareholder, contractor or employee of the foreign company. The knowledge/expertise of the non-EU national(s) should be specifically required.
  • The value of the goods and/or services that will be provided in (or received from) the Netherlands.
  • The number of non-EU nationals involved.
  • The value of the project.
  • Whether the admission will — or could potentially — impair or lead to unfair competition on the Dutch/European labor market. Primary assessment in this respect relates to whether suitable candidates (with a European nationality) can be found to perform the project without the need to engage non-EU nationals.


Admission can be granted for a project up to three years. If the project continues thereafter, a new application will have to be filed.

Important note

The Regulation does not provide an exemption from the obligation to obtain a residence permit (or business visa) in order to reside in the Netherlands. Specific nationalities (e.g., US nationality), however, allow for a temporary visit to the Netherlands without the need for a permit or visa. Timely verification and preparation are required to safeguard compliance.

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