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Residence permits for athletes

Do you want to settle in the Netherlands as a professional athlete, and do you hold the nationality of a country outside the European Economic Area (EEA, 27 EU member states + Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway) and Switzerland? Then in principle, the following special rules apply.

Single Permit

The most common way to obtain a residence permit as a professional athlete is via a so-called Single Permit. Before athletes with a Single Permit can commence work, the club, called the sponsor, must submit an application to the Immigration and Naturalisation Service (IND). In principle, athletes must await that application abroad. If they do remain in the Netherlands, the permit may be rejected.

Upon receipt of the application, the IND forwards it to the Employee Insurance Agency (UWV), which advises on whether the athletes are allowed to work in the Netherlands. If the conditions are met, UWV gives a positive labour market advice to the IND, which in turn grants the application and provides the Single Permit.

You sometimes read that athletes have to return to their country of origin because of formalities; that’s because they have to collect the entry visa (MVV) in the country of origin. Once in the Netherlands, they then get a residence permit, with a maximum duration of three years, and an additional document stating which club they are allowed to play at. Those documents together form the Single Permit.

Professional footballers

For professional footballers, the requirements are slightly different than for other professional athletes. Unlike other professional athletes, who are only eligible for a Single Permit if they will play at the top tier in the Netherlands, football players are eligible if they will play in the first or second tier of Dutch professional football (the Eredivisie- or Keuken Kampioen Divisie). In addition, the UWV checks whether the salary is in line with the market and whether the player’s level is high enough.

If the conditions are no longer met or the footballer is transferred (including in the case of loan transfers), the new club must submit a new Single Permit application.

More information on obtaining a Single Permit as a professional footballer can be found here.

Other professional athletes

Whereas for footballers it is stipulated that they specifically need a Single Permit to be allowed to work in the Netherlands, alternatives exist for other professional athletes. These alternatives each have different criteria. For instance, depending on the circumstances, professional athletes may also qualify for a residence permit as a highly skilled migrant or for a residence permit as a self-employed person. The latter option may come into the picture for athletes who practice a sport in which work as an employee is less common.

More information on residence permits for athletes? Please contact us.

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