You can only apply for health care benefit (in Dutch: zorgtoeslag) if you are eligible for a Dutch public health insurance via the Dutch Tax Office (in Dutch: Belastingdienst).During your stay in the Netherlands, it is very important to have access to healthcare professionals and that you know how to contact them

The Netherlands has  an excellent healthcare system. It is based on several key principles, such as access for all, solidarity and high-quality services.

The Health Insurance Act (in Dutch: Zorgverzekeringswet) provides for short-term medical care, such as:

  • General practitioner care
  • Hospital care
  • Medication
  • Mental healthcare

How does healthcare in the Netherlands work

After you have applied for health insurance you can follow this stepwise-instruction to get access to medical care:

  1. Register with a local doctor
    The first step is to register with a local doctor/general practitioner (in Dutch: huisarts). This can be done of the phone or by making an appointment. Some GP-offices also give you the option to register with them online. You can find a GP near your house using
  2. Register with a pharmacy
    In order to pick-up prescriptions you will also need to register with a pharmacy, preferably nearby. This can usually be done on the phone or through an e-mail. Find a pharmacy here
    The first time you visit a pharmacy it is important to bring your insurance card and ID.
  3. Going to your doctor/GP
    When you have a non-urgent medical or mental issue the local family doctor (GP) is the first point of contact. You can call the GP-office, explain your issue and make an appointment. They will usually have a spot for you the same day or the next day, depending on your medical complaints.Your GP is very well capable to provide you with a good consultation or simple medical treatment. If necessary the GP will prescribe medication, such as pain killers, antibiotics, antiviral drugs or anti-allergy pills.Your doctor can also:
    Issue a referral to a (mental) clinic, psychologist or healthcare provider
    Prescribe a blood or urine test to further examination
    Most doctors in The Netherlands will speak proficient English.
  4. Hospital care  For non-urgent hospital care you will need a referral from your general practitioner. For example, when you need to see a specialist or get an x-ray. Medical specialists work in hospitals or dedicated medical clinics. Most hospitals/clinics are operated privately. Check with your insurance company (zorgverzekeraar) if they are covered.Depending on your medical issue, there will be a waiting period for hospital care. Your GP and insurance company can help you find a hospital with a lower waiting time.
  5. Urgent medical care  For urgent medical care that is not life-threatening you can call your GP’s office. In the phone menu you will get the option to choose urgent medical care (spoedgeval).The GP’s office is only available during working hours. Outside working hours you can contact an urgent care centre (in Dutch: huisartsenpost).For urgent medical care, such as a dislocated shoulder, you can also directly go straight to a hospital’s emergency room (ER) (in Dutch: spoedeisende hulp).Two tips:Use Google Maps to find a huisartsenpost or hospital nearby.
    In case you go the huisartsenpost or ER directly it could be wise to let them know you are coming, whenever possible
  6. Emergency care
    For medical emergencies you will need to call 112. This number is meant for possibly life-threatening situations, such as:A heart attack/failure
    If you believe immediate medical care is needed
    A road accident
    A crime
    If you have a speech or hearing problem, call 0800 8112 and you can type a message to the emergency call centre.Good to know:
    Emergency and urgent medical care are usually also covered for those with a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC)
  7. Other healthcare services
    For other healthcare types you will usually not need a referral from your local doctor, such as:
    Dietary advice. You won’t need a referral either for healthcare that is covered only through your supplemental health insurance, such as:
    Dental care
    Alternative healing
    You can directly contact your healthcare provider or dentist.


In Dutch a dentist is called a tandarts. For dental care in the Netherlands you will need to register with a dentist first.

Some dentists may not accept new patients due to capacity limits, therefore do not wait until you encounter dental emergencies before searching for a dentist.

How to find a dentist

You can search for the nearest dentist on the website. The page is in Dutch, but on the top of the page you can change the language to English. Enter your postcode and then search for the closest dentist and contact them to find out if you can register as a patient at their practice.


Below you can find the contact details of an emergency dentist should you require urgent dental care:

Dental365 Spoed Tandarts Rotterdam
Address: Doctor Molewaterplein 30, 3015 GD, Rotterdam
Telephone: (+31) (0) 85 105 1760

You have to pay them directly and they do not accept cash, only pin or credit card.

General Practicers

The first person to contact in the Netherlands for almost all medical assistance is a General Practitioner (GP). In Dutch a GP is called a Huisarts.


Your first step will be to register with a GP. Please make sure to register with a GP as soon as possible. It can sometimes be difficult to find a GP since not all practices take in new patients. Don’t wait until you are sick, because you need to be registered with a GP before you can make an appointment.

This external website from Erasmus MC shows you a list of GPs in Rotterdam.

GP after hours services

Do you need to consult a GP at night or in the weekend? You will need to call the Huisartsenpost (referred to as HAP). Ask your GP for the contact details of your HAP so that you have it ready in case you need medical assistance at night or in the weekend.

Are you finding it difficult to find a gp to register with?

Logo HelloDoc

If you cannot find a GP to register with, then we suggest that you get in touch with HelloDoc. HelloDoc provides medical advice and treatment for international students who are not yet registered with a GP. Consultations take place online and are offered in multiple languages. Please note that AON student insurance is accepted by HelloDoc.

Hospitals, specialists and medical emergencies

Below an oveview of hospitals in the Rotterdam area, as well as information about specialists and what to do in medical emergencies.

Erasmus MC (Academic/general)
Ikazia Ziekenhuis (General)
Maasstad Ziekenhuis (General)
Sint Franciscus Gasthuis (General)
Het Oogziekenhuis Rotterdam (Eye hospital)

If you want to consult a medical specialist, you will first need a letter of referral from your GP.

Medical emergencies
In case of an accident or other emergency situation, call 112 for an ambulance.

Mental health

Little concentration, disturbed sleep, quick to panic: these are symptoms of a depression, anxiety disorder, or another issue concerning your mental health. Of course this will affect your studies. Read what you can do to study as effectively as possible.

It’s good to know that you cannot get mental health treatment at WdKA. You need to contact the regular services at the Dutch Mental Healthcare Association (GGZ), and your own GP.

We do offer support so that you can study as effectively as possible, despite any mental health issues.

Student counselor

A student counsellor can help you with a plan of action, but can also give advice about facilities. For example, if you have difficulty concentrating due to feelings of depression, it might be helpful to temporarily receive extra exam time. Or if you are in therapy and have to miss classes, it can be handy to have the opportunity to join another class or complete a replacement assignment.

Health Insurance

By law, you must have healthcare insurance. The type of healthcare insurance you need depends on your personal situation.

International students who study or work in the Netherlands are legally required to have health insurance. There are different rules that apply to different situations.

Study purposes only

You are legally not allowed to take out a Dutch public health insurance if you are in the Netherlands for study purposes only. Make sure you have a health insurance from your home country with enough coverage or take out a private health insurance or health insurance from your home country.

If you are from the EU/EEA you may be eligible to receive a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) which covers your necessary medical costs during your stay. Please make sure you check this with your health insurer in your home country as this might differ per EU-member state. See the website of the European Commission for further information on EHIC.

Study and internship

If you are doing an internship for which you are paid at least as much as the Dutch minimum wage, you are subject to compulsory insurance under the Wlz scheme. Check this explanation of the minimum wage.

If you receive expenses this will also count as remuneration for your internship. You should bear in mind that room and board may also be regarded as remuneration. Contact the SVB and start the Wlz assessment when you are in doubt.

Study and work

You are required to have a Dutch public health insurance if you have a (part-time) job.

Do you work on a self-employed basis (in Dutch: ZZP-er), contact the SVB and request an assessment of your Wlz position. The SVB will decide whether you need to take out a Dutch public health insurance or not.

How to take out a Dutch Health Insurance

  1. You must be registered with a municipality before you can take out a basic health insurance.
  2. Choose your health insurance from one of the Dutch public health insurers. Fill out the application form and sent it to the health insurer.
  3. The registration is complete once you have received an insurance policy (in Dutch: polisblad).
  4. If you stop working or if you leave the Netherlands, cancel your insurance. Do not forget to deregister from the municipality.
  5. When you have finished your studies and decide to stay in the Netherlands, you must apply for a health insurance when you start to work. During an orientation year with a search visa you are not allowed to take out a Dutch public health insurance if you have not started to work. You can take out an international health insurance.

When taking out health insurance, please make sure to check Checklist-How-to-take-out-Dutch-basic-health-insurance ( to know what you should look out for and what differences there are in terms of health insurance.

You can find more information on health insurance in the Netherlands on the website of Zorgverzekeringslijn.

Other insurances


If you cause an accident and someone is injured or if you damage someone’s property, you are responsible for paying all the costs of the accident. You might, for example, break something in your rented room. Or, on a more serious note, you might cause a road accident.

Accidents like these can be very expensive. You are therefore strongly advised to take out a good liability insurance policy, which will cover the costs in many cases.

In Holland, damage caused on the job is usually covered by the employer’s liability insurance. If you are an intern, you are usually included in the company’s liability insurance, just like their regular employees. To be certain, however, please check with the company or organisation you will be working for.


Repatriation means returning to your home country. If you happen to become seriously ill, you might prefer to get medical care close to home. It would be wise to have an insurance policy covering the costs of transferring back to your home country in these situations.


Household contents insurance covers the contents of your home against loss due to causes such as theft, fire or water damage.


Health care allowance (zorgtoeslag)

You can only apply for health care benefit (in Dutch: zorgtoeslag) if you are eligible for a Dutch public health insurance via the Dutch Tax Office (in Dutch: Belastingdienst).

Received a letter from the CAK?

You might receive a letter from the CAK about your insurance obligation. You need to take action within 3 months or you will receive a fine of € 402,24. Even if you incorrectly received the letter from the CAK.

  1. It is important to contact the Sociale Verzekeringsbank (SVB) to request (free of charge) an investigation of your insurance position under the Wlz scheme. For this request, please go to the website of the SVB.
  2. Keep in mind that it might take 6-8 weeks before you receive the outcome of the Wlz assessment. Therefore, take action immediately after receiving the letter from the CAK.
  3. Send a copy of the decision from the SVB about your insurance position to the CAK. Use the contactform and chose option ‘regeling onverzekerden’.
  4. CAK will close your file if the outcome of the Wlz assessment states that you are not to be insured.



(Sociale Verzekeringsbank) is the organisation that implements national insurance schemes in the Netherlands.
Website of the SVB
Tel. +31 20 656 48 48


A government organisation responsible for the uninsured regulation. Sends the letters, issues fines and takes further action to get you insured.
Website of the CAK
Tel. +31 800 50 28 option 2 (regeling onverzekerden)


The Dutch Tax Office. They give out health care benefit if you are eligible for a Dutch public health insurance.
Website of the Belastingdienst
Tel. +31 800 05 43


Hotline for independent advice and practical tips about how to solve health insurance issues.
Website of the Zorgverzekeringslijn
Tel. +31 800 646 46 44 / +31 88 900 69 60