Welcome to Saskia van Donkelaar

After working at the InHolland Academy for 3 years it was time for Saskia to get back to her roots and into the Relocation Industry again. We are very proud that she joined i-Mobility.  As a child of expat parents, Saskia has lived in Spain, Malaysia, Oman, Qatar, Nigeria, Tunisia and Scotland before entering boarding school in Leeuwarden.

She studied Leisure Management in Leeuwarden and was an intern at the University of Columbia Missouri USA.  She has worked in the Relocation industry for 11 years and brings not only a solid basis of experience to our team, but also a keen sense of professionalism and quality. Her project will be to prepare our company for the auditors to award us the EuRA Quality Seal in 2014 – 2015!

First King’s Day in the Netherlands

The Dutch have been celebrating Queen’s Day on 30 April since 1949. Starting in this year, we will be celebrating King’s Day on April 26.

‘Koningdag’ as it is called in Dutch, is celebrated yearly. It is the King’s official birthday and is celebrated each year with parties, street markets, concerts and special events for the royal family . So, every year on the official birthday of King Alexander on April 27 (or 26 if 27 is a Sunday), the whole of the Netherlands goes wild!!!  The Flags are put up, all companies and stores, the government offices are closed and people are literally in the streets celebrating. On this day the Dutch are more than proud to wear their Orange outfits, completed with funny Orange accessories.

King’s Day is an official public holiday in the Netherlands. Opening hours in stores vary. Some stores are open as usual, some are open for part of the day, and some are closed all day. Public transport runs to a normal or special timetable and there are extra train services to take people home from large celebrations. However, buses and trams in the centre of large cities may have different or shortened routes to avoid the crowds. Restaurants may be shut, open as usual or only serving special “King’s Day” meals. Cafes and restaurants may close earlier than usual.

King Alexander and Queen Maxima and part of the Royal Family will visit the Province of North Holland and visit the municipalities De Rijp and Amstelveen this year. Celebrations usually start the evening before, especially in Den Haag. Actually, the celebration of ‘Koningnach’, the night before King’s Day, can be bigger than the actual festivities during the King’s day. You can also expect an early start of the celebrations in Amsterdam, but most people save their energy for the next day, the celebration of the year!!! Every city and town has its own celebrations.  Markets and Fun Fairs are set up throughout the whole country.

But of course the celebration is really big in the capital Amsterdam, the whole centre of Amsterdam will be closed off for the festivities. Radio stations are setting up grand Podia, staging performances of national and international artists on the ‘Museumplein’, ‘Leidseplein’ and ‘Rembrandtplein’. Every café and bar has an additional stand outside, where they serve all kinds of food and beverages. Everywhere is dancing and you will hear different music in every street. The Amsterdam canals are filled with private boats of all sizes, shapes and colourfully decorated.

Only on King’s day, people are allowed to sell all kinds of things in the street. Most cities have their own specific locations, where it is possible between 06.00 and 20.00 hours to sell anything you feel like selling. Old toys and homemade hamburgers or beverages, this is the only day a year when everybody is allowed to sell anything they want and where they want. Of course this is also the case in Amsterdam, there are also special areas reserved for children to sell their old goods, especially the ‘Vondelpark’ has a good variety of children’s activities.

We hope you will enjoy it!

Dutch Culture

This picture was taken during the Nuclear Security Summit of March 2014. It showed up in a blog on Facebook and the international comments were a multitude of not understanding; why is the Prime Minister in a suit on the bicycle for instance….

For the Dutch, this picture says it all. It is an understatement, it is practicality, it is common sense and above all: let’s not make things bigger than they need to be.

According to the cultural model of Hofstede, The Netherlands score low on the dimension ‘power distance’. We are an egalitarian society averse to hierarchy. We also score low on ‘masculinity’: true feminine values and modest behaviour, service and solidarity are highly valued by us. Consider the term ‘servant leadership’. You’re the boss, but you have to service your staff. Anything is better than to be perceived arrogant.

IND EU registration in 2014

As of 6 January 2014, EU/ EER and Swiss nationals residing (and working) in the Netherlands will no longer need to get a registration sticker in their passport from the Immigration and Naturalisation Service (IND). The duty to report for EU nationals will be lifted. The purpose of the duty to report was to check the right of residence, but it only represents a random indication. This may lead to a seeming certainty: if an EU national no longer meets the conditions for residence at a later moment, he still has a valid registration sticker in his passport. Vice versa legal residence could be the case by virtue of EU law without the duty to report having been met.

If you are an EU national and a company or organisation requires proof of legal or long-term residence from you as a condition to hire you or to provide a service or product to you, your (valid) passport or ID card is sufficient proof that your residence in the Netherlands is lawful. If so required you can prove that you are intending to stay in the Netherlands longer than four months with a registration in the municipal records. This registration obligation continues to apply.

Source: www.ind.nl

Biometrics per January 2014

As of January 2014, all aliens – except EU nationals and nationals of the EEA and Switzerland – aged 6 years and older have to have their photograph and fingerprints taken for their residence document. This means that you no longer have to enclose a passport photograph or photo card with an application, except if you are an EU national.

In the Netherlands

For applications filed in the Netherlands (initial application, amendment of purpose of residence, extension, residence permit for an indefinite period, replacement and renewal), a photograph and fingerprints are taken at one of the IND Desks. You also sign the document there.

The following conditions apply:

  • If you submit a written application, you have to go to one of the IND Desks – after sending the application – to have his or her photograph and fingerprints taken. There is no need to make an appointment. The addresses and opening hours of the IND Desks are available on www.ind.nl.
  • If you submit the application in person at the IND Desk, the photograph and fingerprints are taken there. You have to make an appointment if you want to submit an application at one of the IND Desks. Please call the following telephone number to book an appointment, on weekdays during office hours: 0900-1234561 (€0.10 p/m).

Abroad, entry and residence procedure

  • In case of a positive decision regarding an application for a provisional residence permit by a (recognised) referee in the Netherlands, you may pick up your provisional residence permit at the Dutch embassy or consulate in your country of origin. Your fingerprints will be taken there. An employee of the diplomatic post also scans your photograph and assesses whether or not it meets the requirements. You also sign the document there.
  • If the provisional residence permit application is filed with the Dutch embassy or consulate abroad, these data are collected there.

Abroad, no obligation for a provisional residence permit

If an application is filed in the Netherlands for an alien who does not need to have a provisional residence permit and who resides abroad, the alien must go to one of the IND Desks upon entry into the Netherlands. An IND employee will take a photograph and fingerprints and the alien concerned signs a document. You do not have to make an appointment for this. The addresses and opening hours of the IND Desks are available on www.ind.nl

Royalty in the Netherlands

On Friday 16th of August the younger brother of King Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands was laid to rest after being in a coma for 1,5 years. The funeral ceremony was private and held at Stulpkerk church. He is buried were no Van Oranje-Nassau was buried before, as traditionally Delft is the final resting place for Dutch Royalty. The Prince is buried at the hamlet of Lage Vuursche near the Drakesteijn Castle were Princess Beatrix will soon reside. It is rumoured that she wanted to keep her favourite son nearby.

On 17th of February 2012 the Prince was buried by an avalanche while skiing off piste with a friend in Lech, Austria. Although the Prince was buried for a relatively short time, it was enough to cause severe brain damage due to oxygen shortage. The Prince was in a minimally conscious state but doctors were not optimistic that he would ever regain full consciousness. Earlier this year the Prince was relocated back to Huis ten Bosch to be with his family.

After a year and a half in coma, Prince Friso died, at age 44, on 12th August 2013.

Immigration changes in 2012

By our IAC Paola Hoek

Now that 2012 is in its 4th quarter, let’s look back on some of the changes in the Dutch Immigration Law regarding family reunion and short term stay. How has it affected our labour migration practise?

Family Migration

As per October 1, 2012 the changes of Family Migration have come into effect. What are the changes?

In short, the definition of what constitutes a ‘dependent’ has become stricter. Not married non-EU partners will no longer receive a residence permit for the Netherlands as dependents unless:

a| they have concluded a registered partnership, or
b| they are able to prove that they were legally not allowed to marry in their home country (e.g. same-sex couples).

The same stricter definition applies to children over 18 years of age as well as parents, including those of 65 years and older, of persons residing in the Netherlands.

These non-EU individuals are also no longer eligible for family forming and/or reunification and will not be granted a residence permit. Unmarried partners will no longer be accepted for family reunification or formation, unless they may not marry due to the laws in their country of origin. If this is the case, a temporary marriage permit can be applied for at the IND (Immigration and Naturalisation Department) in the Netherlands. With this permit the couple will have a six-month time frame in which to arrange for a marriage or legal partnership. These new rules will apply to all applications filed after 30 September 2012, including requests for MVV entry visa.

How does this affect labour migration, what does this mean to an employer?

When considering an employee for an assignment to the Netherlands, it is important to realise that it will no longer be self-evident that the employee may bring his or her non-EU partner or other non-EU family members. A couple may be obliged to enter into a marriage prior to relocating to the Netherlands. Employers should carefully review present and future Dutch immigration regulations with their immigration expert before offering an assignment.

Short term stay

When a non-EU individual is entering the Netherlands, the Dutch government is always asking two questions:

1. How long will the individual stay, and

2. What is the purpose of his visit?

A non-EU citizen staying the Netherlands for 3 months or less might need a visa to enter our country, yet will not require a residence permit. The purpose of stay might be labour and for that a work permit is needed.

The new short term highly skilled migrant permit, available since January 1, 2012, is a way to have a non-EU individual work in the Netherlands for a short term project. The requirements of the regular highly skilled migrant permit are applicable and need to be met in order for the UWV (Governmental Employment Agency) to issue a work permit. At the same time, the work permit will be available within 2 weeks instead of the regular 5 weeks. The pilot will run from 1 January 2012 until the end of 2013, in order to allow ample time to assess whether the simplified procedure should be implemented definitively.

So far, it seems like a very useful solution to what the labour market and the employers need!


Update on Lease Market in NL

Continuous research on the housing market in the Netherlands shows that the total market for people looking for a place to live in general is shifting from buying a home towards renting. This is of course due to the economic situation and outlook to the future. Secondly, it is also due to discussions in the government about the deductibility of mortgage rent. If, how and when this will become effective is at this time not clear, yet it seems to be heading towards a significant change too.

Since it has become more difficult to sell a home in the Netherlands, the offer of Dutch houses for rent has increased. The banks are not always flexible to cooperate, but research shows an increase of 80% more houses rented out Q2 2011 versus Q2 2012*. That is an impressive number.

Since it has become more difficult to get a mortgage for Dutch starters f.i. with a spendable budget anywhere between €600 and €1.200, this group is now looking into renting and not only in the protected market for which there usually is a waiting list. They are now also crowding the liberated market.

Not only has the activity on the lease market in general grown with 34% in 2012, currently it has even outgrown the buying market*. Lease prices do fluctuate on the shorter term, but are more or less stable over a longer period of time.

How do these market developments affect the chances of the international workforce coming to NL and looking for a home to rent?

We believe that it is not the availability of suitable homes, nor is it the price level that will be the limiting factor when looking for a home.

What will make the difference, as always, is the professionalism and thoroughness of the real estate agent, his networking ability to work together with his colleagues and competitors and his relationships with his homeowners. These quality benchmarks, which you can only determine through continuous experience and cooperation, together with his willingness to lower the agent fee (courtage) whenever possible, will qualify him to work with us when supporting your employees in their relocation to the Netherlands.


*source Pararius

Amendement 30%-ruling 2011

The State Secretary of the Ministry of Finance announced last week that later this year adjustments to the 30%-ruling will be made. Currently the 30%-ruling is applicable to employees who are:

(i) recruited from abroad and have;

(ii) specific knowledge;

(iii) that is difficult to find on the Dutch labour market.

If an employee has specific knowledge is now determined based on a combination of factors, including education, working experience, remuneration level, etc.  The 30%-ruling can be granted for a maximum period of 10 years, but a reduction is applied for previous periods of stay in the Netherlands.  In general the 30%-ruling could also apply to Dutch nationals who have been out of the Netherlands for a longer period of time (at least 10 years).In the view of the Ministry of Finance it appeared that in practice and due to case law over the past years the 30%-ruling is now being used more than desired. As a result the Ministry of Finance has announce the following measures in order to limit the use of the 30%-ruling:

• the condition of ‘specific knowledge’ will be replaced by an income criterion of approx. EUR 50,000 per year.

• the look back period in the reduction rule will be extended to 25 years, meaning that Dutch nationals will have to stay outside the Netherlands for at least 25 years in order to become eligible for the 30%-ruling upon return to the Netherlands. Currently this is often only 10 years (or 15 years in specific situations).

• the 30%-ruling will not be applicable to employees who are considered cross-border workers. As cross-border workers will be considered employees who are residing within 150 kilometers from the Dutch borders.

Not only limitations have been announce however: the Ministry of Finance also announced that the 30%-ruling will be open to PhD students, who will continue to work in the Netherlands after graduation. A lower income criterion will apply to this group of employees as well. Currently no information has been provided concerning the exact date of implementation of the new measures and possible transitional rules for employees who currently fulfill the conditions, but will not fulfill the new conditions. Of course we will be monitoring new developments. In case you would like to know how these new measures could affect your business, please do not hesitate to contact our partner Exterus B.V. or ourselves.

Reverse Culture shock

Introducing the author: Frank de Ruiter, KLM. Until his retirement November 2008, Frank worked for KLM, Royal Dutch Airlines. He completed his nearly 41 years of service in various positionswithin the HR domain.As Director HR Field Organization he was responsible for personnel policies regarding expatriate staff and “top locals” (KLM high potentials of non-Dutch nationality). During his years of service Frank introduced repatriation assistance to returning Dutchmen as well as the regular relocation assistance to arriving non-Dutch staff.

What did you encounter in 1984, when you started as Director HR Field Organization?
At that time KLM had a team of expatriate managers in almost every country where it was flying to. The team consisted of a Head of Establishment, who was responsible for the sale of passage and freight, a Controller, a Station Manager and a Station Engineer. The policy regarding expatriate staff was rather primitive. A KLM staff member was “chosen” to be sent abroad based on his interest and his performance. It was never questioned whether he would be suitable for a foreign adventure. Only candidates for the post of Head of Establishment were invited for lunch with the Area Manager and were asked to bring their spouses. Frankly, the main objective was to assess whether the couple would be suitable to fulfil the socially required role of host and represent the company in that way. If successful, the couple could almost rely on a continued expatriate position for a very long time, unless they were called back to fill a major management function in the Netherlands. Once an expat, always an expat.
If you were selected for a position abroad you had to move on very short notice, there was never much time for preparation. The move would be arranged by KLM, but usually it would take a long time before your household goods were at the destination. All the while the family “camped” in a hotel. Children were parachuted at an international school with almost no preparation.
It was not surprising that a considerable number of postings went wrong. Expatriates or expat partners who didn’t fit into the culture of the country to which they were sent, expat partners who could not cope with the “empty” existence, children who could not adapt to their new environment.

What were the main improvements at that time?
There were 3 areas of attention selected:

  1. We changed the candidate selection criteria for positions abroad. Not only the candidate but also the partner and children would now be assessed on their coping ability for deployment abroad in general and in the country of destination in particular. This has ensured that the number of failed postings was reduced.
  2. We would offer employees and their partners a course dedicated to the culture of the country of destination, even if this was a (West) European country. Courses were, with our help, developed by the Royal Tropical Institute (KIT), an institute that in the very beginning only offered a course on Indonesian culture. This very measure helped staff to prepare for the manner of doing business and dealing with staff in the country of destination. The partner was better prepared for her role as “manager” of the household. Intensive language courses were also expanded. In particular, Spanish, French, Italian and German. The courses were usually not taken at Regina Coeli (“The Nuns”) but preferably somewhere in the language area itself and immediately prior to the start of the function.
  3. We decided to also guide and assist Dutch expatriates who returned to the Netherlands, usually after a prolonged stay abroad. In the interviews we had with returning expatriates and their partners, it was observed regularly that the KLM as a company guided and assisted you well when you went abroad but returning home was never seen as a challenge. Even though you were returning to your home country, you would really have to find your way again. Try to adapt back to the Dutch way of life and find your way through the mazes, the rules and regulations. The returning home service we provided through a relocation company was much appreciated for years by most expats.

Does KLM still provide this service?
No, unfortunately it has stopped for several reasons. First, there are virtually no more “career or long term expats” within KLM. Although it is still important for your career to have experienced a foreign posting, the time abroad is significantly shortened and therefore the degree of alienation is a lot less. If you are now sent abroad, the home is generally held and temporarily rented out. Even in some cases, the partner will stay in the Netherlands and the couple will have a split family situation allowing the partner to hold on to his/her work and the children to remain in their own school.
Secondly, internet allows the availability of information anywhere at any time. You can prepare yourself thoroughly, before moving back. Services and goods can be purchased online and many municipalities have a digital counter. Through satellite and internet you can stay informed about what’s happening in the Netherlands. Although you should never underestimate the impact of a foreign posting on the person life, there is no more real alienation from the home country.
And last, there is an economic reason why we decided to take out this type of service.

Would you recommend other companies to offer repatriation service to their staff?
Yes I would, especially for organizations that still have career expats who are continuously working abroad it is very valuable. Expatriate families really appreciate any help in preparing for a return to the Netherlands. Having a reliable person on the other end makes all the practical hassle a lot easier. And yes, almost everything is available on the internet but still finding it is not always easy and can you really rely of the information? Modern repatriation service should have all the characteristics of this day and age: fast, direct and digital, yet personal and modular. A combination of screened digital information, Skype and email contact to prepare for the move and upon arrival in the Netherlands an encounter with the consultant to welcome them back home on behalf of the company: a powerful tool to let your staff know that they are important to you as an employer!