Health Care can be a broad and complicated topic. This section will introduce you to Health Care in the Netherlands in a way that will hopefully make the process less daunting.

The Dutch Medical System is systematically split up in various areas. Below find the different aspects of Health Care. 

Emergency Services

For emergencies, such as life threatening situations use the number 112. This can be used for police, medical and fire related situations. For other police matters that are not an emergency please use the number 0900-8844. 

General Practitioner

The general practitioner is called ‘huisarts’, in the Netherlands. The general practitioner can be visited during consultation hours in the week through booking an appointment. During the non-consultation hours, emergency doctors or after hour general practitioners are available. You can book appointments here as well before visiting. 

It is strongly advised to register with a general practitioner once you arrive to the Netherlands. You can ask your neighbours or the student desk for advice on what GP you should register with. Alternatively, you can check the Zorgkaart Nederland for GP rankings in your area. 

Please note the following:

  • You cannot directly go to the hospital unless it is an emergency. If you need to be treated by a specialist, you need to consult with you GP first. They will give you a referral letter. Remember to make a photocopy of the referral letter for your insurance company. 
  • Remember to bring your insurance card when visiting the GP, dentist, hospital or pharmacy, you may be asked to show it. 
  • If you have to go to surgery, it is advised to make an appointment with your GP beforehand. 


Medication can be found at pharmacies (apotheek) and drugstores (drogists). A drugstore sells toiletries and over the counter drugs for minor complaints such as headaches, toothaches, colds and the flu to name a few. Popular drugstores include Kruidvat and Etos. If the doctor or specialist prescribes you with medication you can pick up the prescription at the pharmacy linked to your GP. Every area of the city will have a pharmacy. Pharmacies also have regular office hours. 

If you have specific mediation that you have to bring with you please check the following link to see what the requirements are. For some medication a Schengen certificate of medication must be taken.


For minor symptoms you can visit the GP. It is not common to visit the hospital for minor reasons. Emergency rooms can be expensive, and if it is not a serious matter you will be told to visit your GP. When the GP thinks it is needed they will provide you a referral for the hospital. 

In case of an accident or emergency, every hospital provides first-line care. When visiting the hospital follow the signs for EHBO (Eerste Hulp Bij Ongeluk) or First Aid. 

In a life-threatening situation or emergency, you can use the emergency number 112. They can assist you with firefighters, police, and health professionals. 


Dentistry is a private practice in the Netherlands, and is not covered by basic insurance policies (except for children under 18 and specialist dental care, such as surgery). There are certain insurance policies where dental care is included. In such cases remember to ask for a receipt from the dentist to get a refund from the insurance company. 

If you are here for a long time and need a simple routine check-up please be aware that you will be put on a waiting list. This means that it may be a while before you are given an appointment. If you are in need of emergency dental care an appointment will be given sooner. 

Health Insurance

Everyone living or paying income tax in the Netherlands even if it is temporarily is obligated to have health insurance. The Dutch government is responsible for the quality and accessibility of health care, therefore making basic health care compulsory. The basic health insurance covers the following:

  • Medical care including: GP, hospitals, medical specialists and obstetricians; 
  • Hospital stay; 
  • Dental care until the age of 18; 
  • Medicine (prescribed by the GP or specialists);
  • Maternity care; 
  • Patient transport (ambulance and seated patient transport); 
  • Paramedical care (restricted physiotherapy/remedial therapy, speech therapy, occupational therapy and dietary advice).

Insurance companies are obligated to offer basic health insurance and cannot refuse anyone. 

If you are going to stay in the Netherlands for a longer period of time and receive an income you are obligated to take out health insurance at least to the basic level. Please note that travel insurance or insurance from another country is not valid. If you do not have health insurance you may be fined. A longer period of time is generally understood as at least a year. If your stay is temporary, generally understood as less than a year, you are not obligated to take basic insurance. 

More information can be found at Zorgwijzer.

EU Student

If you are an EU Student, and do not qualify for the Dutch Public Health Insurance, you can use the EU Health Insurance Card (EHIC). You can check with your insurance company in your own country for further details. EHIC will only reimburse medical costs.

NON-EU/eea Students

Non-EU students must take out a private health insurance. Some companies extend their insurance policies internationally. Please check your own policies to see what is covered. 

Private insurance companies such as Aon and IPS have extensive coverage. You can check what they offer as well as apply online.

Mental Health

As a student, you may feel that you are put under a lot of stress and pressure throughout your program. It is important, that while you are maintaining your work, you also take care of your mental health and avoid breakdowns and burnouts. Additionally, taking care of your mental health is as important as taking care of your physical health.

Your university will already have provisions and facilities you can use to address your concerns from everything related (but not limited) to;

  • Lack of concentration
  • Fear of failure 
  • Stress (chronic)
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Burnouts
  • Family/relationship difficulties
  • Eating disorders 
  • Addictions
  • Sexual problems/harassment 
  • Among more

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