Access to healthcare

How to access healthcare

Foreigners are able to use the Dutch healthcare system without many problems. Almost all doctors (Arts or Huisarts) will speak at least English and probably 1 or 2 other foreign languages. Before traveling to the Netherlands you should be well aware whether you are required to have a basic health insurance covering health costs in the Netherlands.


You are lawfully required to have a health insurance covering any health expenses that you make in the Netherlands. However, in the event of an emergency, do not worry about insurance issues and just head directly to the nearest emergency room ( eerste hulp). Under Dutch law, any health organization - public or private - is required to treat patients in an emergency situation regardless of their insurance status.

Use the general emergency number 112 if you need an ambulance.

Since January 1st 2006 you are lawfully required to identify yourself with official identification before you are treated. Everybody who is older than 14 years (if you are younger than 14 years of age a mention in your parent’s passport is sufficient) will need to provide this identification to use the services of the medical staff. If you are rushed to the hospital in an emergency, and you can’t identify yourself, you will have to do so within two weeks of your hospital visit.

Pharmacies and drugstores

In the Netherlands there are 2 types of pharmacies; the apotheek (chemist) and the drogist (drugstore).

Prescriptions should be taken to the apotheek. You can get the cost of prescribed medicines prescribed by the doctor refunded by your insurance company. Some medicines will not be refunded by your insurance company. We advise you to ask your doctor, pharmacy, or insurance company beforehand if the medicine will be refunded. You can go to the drugstore for products that do not need a prescription.

For the latest news on healthcare in the Netherlands, visit our website on expatriate healthcare: .

Further reading

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