Information for doctors, pharmacists, dentists and psychologists from outside the EEA that want to work in the Netherlands.


For many professionals relocating to Europe the maze of procedures and "how-to's" prove to be quite a headache. We have been asked many questions about this by our students and as a result, we decided to compile this article to help out.
If you are a Doctor, Dentist, Pharmacist, Psycologist (doctor in psychology) from outside the EEA (European Economic Area), here are some tips and links to help you get underway.
When you are a practitioner in one of the above mentioned professions your emigration process to get to the Netherlands and work in your field will look a bit different from other work permit proceedings. Not only will you need to get some paperwork in place, you will also need to pass a specific exam called "AKV-Toets". In this blog we are giving you the step by step procedures to follow to try and give you more clarity on the process:

1. Request registration at BIG register

BIG is an accronymn for "Beroepen in de individuele gezondheidszorg" or professions in the individual health care, that is a legal, online and public register containing all the relevant details of individuals listed. Only those in the BIG register are allowed to a protected professional title and may independently perform the reserved actions associated with the profession. Anyone can consult the BIG register and it is also the place to go for recognition/validation of your non Dutch degree and certification. To start this process you need to go to the BIG website and complete 2 forms.
First is the "Algemeen aanvraagformulier" or General request form.
The second for to complete is the "Bijlagen per beroep" or Attachments per profession form

Both these forms can be downloaded from the following page

Note, if you are a qualified practitioner in the above fields and your specific profession is not listed in the "bijlagen per beroep" form, all should be in order if you only submit the "Algemeen aanvraagformulier".

It is very important to be thorough when dealing with these matters. Be sure to complete the forms entirely and attach all your required documentation as BIG will reject your submission if all the information it requires has not been included.
Some attachments are compulsory and others are a good include. and it is best to add as many relevant and verifiable documents as you can. The idea is to prove your professional competence and the more value you can add to the local field, the more favorable BIG will react to your application. 

Very important to note, have your documents translated into Dutch or English (if not already) by a registered professional translator. If the translator is not registered, their translation will not be recognized and your documents will be rejected.

Keep certified copies of your certificates and make sure that they have the original seal of the institution or university that issued them. You can also have them verified by a Dutch Notary. Notaries are easy to find with a Google search and the terms "Dutch Notary" or Nederlandse Notaris" should get you in contact with the correct people. Also note that this is not a free service and industry related costs will apply. For more on Notaries and the services that they offer you can go here.
Once you have attached all of the the required documents and completed and signed the form/s you can send it off to:

Erkenning buitenlandse diploma's
Postbus 16114
2500 BC Den Haag
Once they have received the documents, you should be notified via snail mail within 2 weeks of them receiving your application. If they require any more documentation from you, they will make note of it in this notification letter.

2. Assessment of diploma's and degree's by Nuffic, (The Dutch organisation for internationalization in education) 

Once your application is complete, an assessment will be carried out on your diploma(s) and course(s) in the following groups
Assessment for doctors, nurses and dentists
The diplomas and course overviews are investigated for authenticity by Nuffic.

If your application was correct and complete, you will receive a request from BIG to send your original diploma and course overview to Nuffic. Once satisfied, Nuffic informs BIG about the outcome of the audit. These are highly competent institutions and fear not, Nuffic will return your original documentation to you.

Important! Only send your documents to Nuffic upon request from BIG. If you send the documents earlier on your own initiative, Nuffic will reciprocate with an invoice. Process is very important and keeping to the prescribed guidelines will serve you best and patience is most likely to be rewarded.

Assessment in the category "other professions"
Under this category, an educational assessment is made by Nuffic and/or by The Cooperation Organization for Vocational Education and Industry (SBB)
An educational assessment is made for applications from all other professions. This assessment is made by Nuffic or by the Cooperation Organization for Vocational Education and Industry (SBB). More about them here.
It is good to know where your documents go and how they are handled but like mentioned before, allow BIG to facilitate the process. By deviating from the procedure or trying to bypass BIG and attempting to direct the process personally, could do more harm than good and delay the process.

3. The dreadded "AKV" test

As part of the process, you get subjected to a general knowledge and skills test, the "AKV toets". The focal point in this test is your proficiency in speaking Dutch at C1 level. Although daunting to most who aren't familiar with the Dutch language, fear not we have your back and can successfully prepare you for the exam like we have done with so many others. Contact us here to replace the panic with peace of mind! 

All applicants have to do the general knowledge and skills test (AKV test). Dutch language proficiency is the most important part of the AKV test. You will get tested on C1 level in Dutch, at Learn Dutch Online we also call this 'mother tongue' level. The successful completion of the AKV test is a condition for continuing with the assessment procedure. 

We will be covering all 5 tests that the AKV exam is comprised of in more detail in our future blogs about the AKV. 

AKV Test A : summary and presenting
To start with, you will be given an article from a medical magazine to summarize. Once that is completed, you compose a presentation about the article as well as present it. 

More details here

AKV Test B: patient-doctor dialogue and written report of the conversation.
Next you will be tested on your consultation abilities by being given a mock-up set of symptoms and having to diagnose the ailments and prescribe medication accordingly. This is done with an "actor" as a patient in a face-to-face setting and the interaction is evaluated in person. 

Once the consultation has been completed, you have to write a report on the conversation you had with your "patient". More detail on that here

AKV Test C: English reading skills
This should be the least concerning as you are given English medical and general texts to read hereafter you answer questions on the content thereof. More detail here 

AKV Test D: Knowledge of the Dutch healthcare laws
Usually you can expect a multiple choice questionnaire with, on average, 40 questions regarding Dutch laws pertaining to healthcare and the medical industry. For more detail and a list of recommended literature click here.

AKV Test E  beroepsinhoudelijke toets. 

This test is exclusively for doctors, nurses and dentists.

You've made it this far so lets move on to the second part of the assessment procedure, "beroepsinhoudelijke test" This is an assessment procedure, designed to determine whether you qualify for a certificate of professional competence with your current knowledge and abilities, or if further training is needed. Doctors, Nurses and Dentists are assessed in their own respects, pertaining to their profession. For more detailed information, click here

The test is mandatory and you have to pass it as part of the procedure. For more on the test and costs involved with registration and participation, you can look here.  

4. The CBGV or The Foreign Health Graduates Committee

Once you have completed the "AKV" and "beroepsinhoudelijke" tests the results are assessed by the CBGV, who are an independent committee. This body is the final step in the process and will report their findings back to BIG. If they have any questions or need more clarity on related information, they may request and interview with you to clarify any questions or concerns. You can read more about the assessment by the committee on the Assessment and decision page
Now BIG has all the information required to finalize the proceedings and give you an answer to your application. 

They first send you a notification of their intended decision with two weeks notice before finalizing it.
If the decision was not favorable, this is the time allocated to you to raise your concerns directly with them. Very often a negative response is due to a clerical or administrative error which is easily clarified once you take it up with them. 

After the final decision has been reached, you are still able to object to it but it is advisable to rather respond during notice period.
Once they have approved you as a legal practitioner, you will receive your official Certificate of professional competence in the post. 

Time to celebrate, but before you do, make sure to keep this document in a safe place.

Specialty Recognition
When completing your application, you have the option to request that your specialty gets recognized, if it is not already recognized, in The Netherlands. Once you have passed the AKV process, BIG will then forward the details to specialist registration committee which is related to your specialty for review and consideration. This committee will contact you for further questions and proceedings.

5. Register at BIG

Pharmacists, doctors, physiotherapists, mental health psychologists, psychotherapists, physician assistants, dentists, obstetricians or nurses can apply for their BIG registration after receiving their Certificate of Professional Competence. This is a separate application and approval is necessary if you want to bear the related professional title and be elegeable to work in that industry in The Netherlands.
Please note that we are a private institution and have no affiliation with BIG or any other parties mentioned here. 

We will gladly assist you with and prepare you for the AKV-toets. Contact us here for more information: