The Dutch healthcare system

The Dutch love their healthcare system. It is quick and efficient and has a great reputation.
It is a well oiled and modern system where all the parts seem to work together with ease. The non-Dutch find it hard work sometimes to get more than aspirin from their doctor, which sometimes shows people used to healthcare systems in France and Italy for instance. 

The following should be able to help you get register in the healthcare system and to learn how it all works. It might feel weird at first, but you will soon get used to it.

It is important to know what will happen when you fall ill and who to contact.

Dutch Healthcare system


Emergency Telephone Numbers in Amsterdam

Emergency services: these are the numbers to use for fire, police and ambulance. Also overdoses, poisons and emergency doctors, emergency dental care and hospitals…

Telephone Numbers to use in Amsterdam for Emergencies – 

Alcoholics Anonymous Amsterdam

Tel: 020 625 6057


Jellinek Drug and alcohol help center

088 505 1220 or  020 – 570 2355


Tel: 0900 204 2040 or 020 55 5822

Child Helpline (14:00-20:00)

Tel: 0800 0432 or Child Line

Women’s Helpline (09:00-23:00)

Tel: 020 611 6020

Red Cross

Tel: 020 622 6211

Emergency Doctor

Tel: 088 003 0600

Emergency Dentists Amsterdam

Tel: 0900 321 2230

Emergency Vet Amsterdam

Tel: 0900 0245 or Tel: 020 560 6360

Pharmacy/Chemist On Duty

Tel: 020 694 8709

Emergency Hospitals

Tel: 112 

ACCESS Information Helpline

Tel: 0900 222 2377


Accident & Emergency Departments in the Hospitals (Ziekenhuizen)

Academisch Medisch Centrum (AMC)

At: Meibergdreef 9

1105 AZ Amsterdam Zuidoost

Emergency Tel: 020 566 3333

Tel: 020 566 9111

Fax: 020 566 4440

Website (in Dutch)


Onze Lieve Vrouwe Gasthuis – OLVG

At: Eerste Oosterparkstraat 279

1091 HA Amsterdam

Tel: 020 599 9111

Fax: 020 599 2299

Website (in Dutch)


Support groups


Health Insurance in the Netherlands

You probably need to get it if living in the Netherlands, so get informed about it and start to use it. It includes many things you will find very useful. Yes you have to pay for it, but then all good things cost money, right ?

How it works for you and your family.

If you live here and pay tax you need Dutch health Insurance for you and your dependants.  The mandatory health insurance, Basic Health Insurance is called the ‘basisverzekering’ and is available to all residents and provides general medical care by specialists, GPs and midwives, hospital care, medication, rehabilitation, mental health care and dental cover for children up to 21.

It also includes basic mediacal emergency holiday travel cover.

There are various types of basic policy; in some cases the insurer organises and pays for all “reasonable” costs, while in others the insured arranges treatment and pays and is subsequently reimbursed by the insurer. Insurers should always be notified of hospital admission (well in advance if possible).

What the basic policies usually cover : 

Treatment by a GP and most prescription medication

All costs for hospitalisation

Transport by ambulance

Dental care for kids (see policies for adults dental care)

A visit to the psychologist

Surgery and other operations in a hospital


Some cases of physiotherapy

Aanvullende verzekering is the Dutch term for your private policy and these vary depending on the offer and then you get add ons you think you might need – more dental cover, extra physiology needs, etc. The dentist one is particularly costly and with checking before you take a policy.

Finding insurers and healthcare

The local health insurance office (zorgverzekeraar) will have the most up-to-date information on local providers. It will also provide information on local doctors (huisarts) and dentists (tandarts) and how to register with a practice.

Try this site to see what the offer are and to compare

Compare Dutch health insurance


Dental Care in the Netherlands


Here you can find out more about the how to get dental care in the Netherlands and what happens when you need specialist work done on your teeth.

In 2006 big changes were made and now there is no distinction between private and public healthcare in the Netherlands. All practitioners are part of the public system, including dentists.

Dentists working in general practice provide almost all dentistry in the Netherlands. A large proportion of the Dutch people are registered with dentists as should you be.

A 6 monthly check up is the norm and some place only do dental hygiene. Children join their parents’ checkup from the age of 2-3.

There is a national scale of maximum fees.  Amounts are set each year by the government. Under the basic heath care insurance package, dental care is covered for all children up until their 18th birthday.

All preventive and curative dental care and all orthodontic care for grown ups (>18 year), can be additionally insured or paid for privately.


Quality of Care

The Individual Health Care Professions Act (BIG Act) was introduced for medical care and dentistry on December 1st 1997. Its purpose was to promote and monitor the quality of professional practice across all health care aspects and to protect the patient against inexpert and negligent treatment. Every dentist and dental hygienist has to have a BIG registration number to legally work in the field.

Quality Register

In 2007, the Stichting Kwaliteits Register Tandartsen, KRT (Institute of the Quality Register for Dentists) was established with the objective of creating transparency in dental treatment and clinic’s practices, thereby contributing to patient safety.


Specialists usually orthodontists and oral/maxillofacial surgeons. Patients may attend specialists directly, but usually go via referral from their primary dentist.

Specialists apply a different scale of fees from general practitioners. The amount are set each year by the government.

Oral and maxillofacial surgeons work mainly in hospital and universities while most orthodontists work in private practices.

Dentists with special interests

Some general practitioners specialise in endodontics, periodontics paedodontics and implantology, although they are not classified as true specialists. Patients may attend dentists with special interests directly, but usually go via referral from their primary dentist.

Dental hygienists are paramedicals with an independent status. Most are employees in dental practices, some work in hospitals and centres for paediatric dentistry and some have their own private practice.

Emergency and Trauma

According to the BIG Act every individual dental practice has to have an arrangement to offer after-hours emergency services. For details, check the website of the practice, or telephone the practice and an answering machine will tell you who to contact in an emergency ( most messages are in Dutch).

Treatment after opening hours, in the evening and after midnight will have additional costs.

Toothache and other discomfort can normally wait for the next day but teeth loss, luxation and complicated fractures need to be taken care of in the first 30-45 minutes after the accident.

Every dentist has to offer immediate emergency care within 45 minutes of being notified of the problem.

Further reading

Yearly dental fee schedule for general practice and orthodontic treatment (in Dutch)