Expats and Dutch Law

The law. It exists in every country and for good reason. It allows for the smooth functioning of society in a sensible and fair framework. However, it never stands still. Old laws need updating and new laws need creating. For many, the law is something they mainly experience in film or a TV drama. Once you do need legal help, it becomes very real and you want experienced and skilled advice. The international expat lifestyle probably brings in need of a lawyer more than our friends back home. But what about the law here? When does it affect us? Here is our Q+A about Expats and Dutch Law.

So what areas of the law should we be thinking about? It could be related to work, your house, your company, your employees or lots of other areas that involve the law. So, in order to get more insights, we asked the experts at Russell Advocaten in Amsterdam to answer our questions. Thank you…..for taking the time from your schedule to give us more insights into Expats and Dutch Law:


Q1. The expat community is huge. Please outline the main areas where Expats and Dutch Law meet.

In our experience, expats often need advice when it comes to employment law. This is because Dutch employment law may be very different from the law of their home country. For example when it comes to illness, dismissal, holidays and care leave – to name but a few topics.

Another field where we see expats needing advice is rental law or real estate law. Many expats are often unsure whether they should rent or buy premises for themselves or their businesses. So our advice is often sought with regard to clauses in rental agreements or the rights and duties of homeowners. 


Expats and Dutch Law


Another area of law in which we get many questions is immigration law. Questions mainly concern corporate immigration. For example: How can I get a residence permit? What kind of documents are needed for this? Do I need a recognised sponsor?

We also have a lot of expat clients who want to start a business in the Netherlands. They often need help and advice when it comes to incorporating a company or contracting. Our expat clients also often have problems concerning litigation or arbitration.  In all these fields our highly skilled team of lawyers can help expats solving their problems. 


Q2. A lot of expats ask questions online about their employment contracts. Obviously, only an expert can accurately advise on that. What are the main needs you see for expats in this area?

No matter whether you are a foreign employer or employee, expert advice is often needed concerning Dutch employment contracts. It often starts with the question of which law is applicable to an employment contract. Dutch law or the law of the home country?

We also often see a need for legal advice about non-compete clauses or business relations clauses. For example, when expats need to know if and when they can start working for another company in the same industry.


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Another source of questions is dismissal. Here, we get questions from foreign HR managers and employees alike. They often need clear advice about the precise duration of the contract, whether compensation has to be paid, or the terms of notice to be taken into account. If you do not get expert advice on these topics, it could cost you a lot of money.


Another issue we are often confronted with is illness-related clauses in a contract. What are your rights and duties as an employer when an employee is ill? What are your rights and duties as an employee when you are sick? Again, employment Dutch law in this field may vary greatly from the law in your home country. So not being familiar with the Dutch rules and regulations can become a costly affair. Our advice to expats is therefore not to resort to online help but to contact an expert when they are confronted with illness.


Expats and Dutch Law


Q3. Many expats end up buying a home in the Netherlands. Over time, there can often be real estate disputes. How do you help expats in this area? What are the main causes of these disputes?

Expat homeowners often ask us for help when they discover hidden defects in the home they purchased. They need to know how to recover the costs from the seller. Expats owning private homes or business premises also contact us when they want to renovate or build extensions to their properties. In the Netherlands, you cannot just alter or extend buildings. First of all, you need to know what kind of permit you need to get in order to do so. 

We also advise expats who rent a property. They often ask for our help when it comes to their rights. Or they come to us to check a rental agreement before they sign it. 


Dutch law



Q4. Can you please shine some light on setting up a business in the Netherlands? Can it be interesting for expats?

Absolutely. The Netherlands has a very favourable business climate. There are different types of legal entities you can incorporate, including a BV. If you want to set up a BV in the Netherlands, you need to follow certain steps regarding incorporation and registration. Our experts can guide you through the process. We can also help you with the day-to-day business operations. Have a look at our special website for starting a business in the Netherlands. 


Q5. What advice do you have for expats to foresee issues? Prevention is often better than a cure as they say.

That is right. Especially if you are an expat living and working in the Netherlands, we recommend you get advice from an expert before trying to sort things out yourself. This way, a lot of problems can be avoided from the onset. Whether it concerns employment contracts, rental agreements, or permits you may need – our experts can come up with the best solution for you.

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Thank you to all the team at Russell Advocaten for these interesting answers about Expats and Dutch Law. There you have it. Lots and lots of reasons we expats and internationals need legal help during our time here in The Netherlands. 


Contact details:



Telephone: 020 301 55 25

Russell Advocaten, Antonio Vivaldistraat 6, 1083 HP Amsterdam


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For more great articles like this see our Amsterdam blogs section.


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