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Association Treaty

To Turkish nationals and their family members more favorable rules apply than to other non-EU migrants, thanks to an Association Treaty between the EU and Turkey.

This Association Treaty is applicable to Turkish citizens and their (Turkish or non-Turkish) family members. In this respect, family members are:

  • married or registered partners: partners of Turks working in the Netherlands, Turkish partners of Dutch citizens or Turkish partners of non-Dutch with a Dutch residence permit
  • children and grandchildren under 21 of the Turkish national, or of the married/registered partner, regardless of nationality. If the child is financially dependent on the parent who works in the Netherlands, the age limit does not apply
  • parents or grandparents of the Turkish national or de married/registered partner, regardless of nationality 

Working in the Netherlands

There are several options to obtain a permit that allows you to work in the Netherlands.
We explain the options in detail in these articles:

However, for Turkish nationals and their family members some specific, more favourable rules apply regarding (self)employment.


Turkish nationals who want to start a business in the Netherlands do not have to comply with the point-based system. They must, however, sufficiently substantiate the application with – among other things – a sound business- and financial plan.

The RVO (Dutch Enterprise Agency) reviews the documents, which should demonstrate that the enterprise:

  • has a viable chance of success
  • can compete in the free market
  • fulfils a need in the Netherlands
  • contributes to the Dutch economy – it should not impact negatively on the free market or job market

Turkish nationals do not need a separate work permit (TWV) anymore for any kind of work in the Netherlands after 3 years of operating their own business: they are free on the job market.

Highly skilled migrants

Turks or family members of Turkish nationals, who want to take up employment as highly skilled migrants, do not need a so-called recognized sponsor. They may apply for the highly skilled migrant permit themselves. In practice, applications involving a recognized sponsor are processed faster.

Regular employment

After 1 year of employment with a valid residence permit by a Dutch employer, Turks, or family members of Turks, can continue with the same employer without a work permit being required.
After 3 years of employment for the same employer, a work permit is not required anymore: they are free on the labor market.

You are a family member who wants to come to the Netherlands

To family members of a Turkish national, who has a right of residence in the Netherlands, several exceptions to the regular family reunification rules apply:

  • the minimum age for married and registered partners is 18 years, instead of 21 years. For unmarried partners, the regular minimum age of 21 years applies
  • passing the Basic Civic Integration Exam Abroad is not required
  • passing the Civic Integration Examination in the Netherlands is not required to qualify for a permanent residence permit, or for a humanitarian non-temporary residence permit after 5 years of stay with your partner
  • a reduced government filing fee (this is also the case with other applications on the ground of the Association)

After 3 years of legal stay in the Netherlands, family members are eligible for a residence permit for continued residency. This permit is not tied to a certain purpose of stay; you do not need a work permit to take up any kind of employment and you do not need to meet an income requirement.

Termination of marriage

Because of the Association Treaty, family members of Turks who have obtained a right of residency in the Netherlands keep certain rights after their marriage or registered partnership ends.

It depends on the individual situation whether a Turkish national or his or her family members are entitled to (continued) residency based on the Turkish Association Treaty. In case you have doubts as to whether you do or do not fall under the scope of these rules, it is recommended to seek consultation about your legal situation.

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