Top of main content

Working in the Netherlands

Your guide to expat life in the Netherlands

Want to work in the Netherlands?

Doing business in the Netherlands is an attractive prospect thanks to its strategic position in Europe and its buzzing, internationally-oriented economy. Plenty of expats are making the move to the Netherlands for its modern work environment, where equality is valued, and hard work appreciated.

Job openings are available across a range of sectors in the Netherlands. Key industries include engineering, construction, chemicals, oil and natural gas as well as financial services, retail and transport. International companies are also a major source of foreign employment in the Netherlands. The e-commerce, tech and entertainment industries remain strong, as well as the pharmaceutical and healthcare sector. Highly qualified expats with in-demand skills are more likely to find employment, especially in Amsterdam, The Hague and Rotterdam.

Business in the Netherlands

Whether lured by dreams of windmills, clogs and learning Dutch or offered an attractive job opportunity, it's worth bearing in mind some key aspects of working in the Netherlands. The Dutch are used to dealing with foreign associates and it shouldn't take you long to adapt to Dutch business culture.

Although business structures are hierarchical, the business culture in the Netherlands is collaborative and the input of all workers is valued when it comes to decision-making. But this means that decisions can take time.

The Dutch are hardworking and disciplined and tend to be quite formal and reserved in the business environment. Self-control is important and showing emotions is rare. Honesty is expected and appreciated. It’s best to be open and direct when dealing with Dutch colleagues. The Dutch are also very private people and prefer to separate work and personal life. It's unusual to socialise with colleagues outside of the office. And, in terms of gender dynamics, Dutch society is very liberal, and men and women have equal rights in the workplace.

Punctuality is vital and it’s usual to skip pleasantries and get straight to business during meetings. The Dutch communication style is direct, and you'll likely always know where you stand with your local associates. Answers will be clear and straightforward which often comes across as being blunt, and it may take a while for expats who are accustomed to more indirect communication to get used to this.

Practical details

Dutch is the official business language, but English, French and German are also widely spoken and understood. Business hours are usually 09:00 to 17:00, Monday to Friday. Work attire is generally smart casual. Suits are often worn but ties aren't always expected. A firm handshake with direct eye contact is the usual form of greeting between both male and female associates. Gifts aren't usually exchanged during business dealings.

Expat salaries in the Netherlands

Salaries in the Netherlands are slightly lower than other Western European countries, such as the UK, France and Germany, but the cost of living is lower than in these countries. Expats earning the average salary will be able to enjoy a high quality of life in the Netherlands.

Top tips for working in the Netherlands

See what people responding to our Expat Explorer Survey think about living in the Netherlands.

We have increased income and career opportunities which improves my professional experience and knowledge.

All Expat Explorer survey data and all tips (in quotation marks) are provided by HSBC.

All other content is provided by, Globe Media Ltd and was last updated in September 2021. HSBC accepts no responsibility for the accuracy of this information.

This information is purely for orientation and to inspire further research, it does not constitute advice and no liability is accepted to recipients acting independently on its contents. The views expressed are subject to change.

Always remember to ensure you're aware of and comply with any laws in your host country or country of origin that apply to gift giving and bribery.

You might also be interested in


Opening an offshore account, can be an effective way to save, invest and manage money while abroad.


Steps to build a better financial future abroad.


Read our 10-step guide to moving abroad to make sure you've got everything covered.

Listening to what you have to say about services matters to us. It's easy to share your ideas, stay informed and join the conversation.