Pregnancy in the Netherlands

First of all Congratulations. The journey of pregnancy is long, tiring yet a very beautiful one !

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You know you are pregnant and you are in the Netherlands. Do not know what are the next steps? Should you call a GP or huisarts or midwife for the questions and checkup?

Well, do not worry at all. Here is our guide on what to expect in the upcoming weeks, once you know you are pregnant.

1. As soon as you know that you are pregnant, Find a Verloskundige(Midwife)
Who is Verloskundige? Midwife in the Netherlands are called verloskundige in dutch. Once you know you are pregnant, immediately call a midwife to take an appointment.There is no referral needed from doctor. You can find the midwife within or near your area here.
The midwife guides you during your pregnancy and perform all the checkups,scans etc and prepare you for the delivery. Midwife keeps an eye on your health and also of the baby.
You can choose a midwife of your choice and call them to register. You will be invited for an Intake and registration. At the intake appointment, general questions about your illness, ailments, use of medications, allergies, height, weight, health of your partner and relatives etc will be checked and details will be added to the file. Just that you know, all midwife practices are organized and work differently from each other. If you have any illness or special condition such as diabetic then you will be referred to specialist or gynaecologists who will then handle your pregnancy journey instead of the midwife.
Tip : You will need at least a basic insurance to cover up the expenses of midwife.

2. Ultrasounds
All the ultrasounds and checkups will be done by midwife and in their facilities. First ultrasound is around 8 weeks. After that checkups will be done every 4 weeks. The appointments are usually not more than 15 min. During the checkup, your blood pressure, growth of the belly and the baby, your health and baby’s heartbeat will be checked. Usually schedule of the checkup’s is as below :
– 1st checkup/ultrasound : 8 to 10 weeks
– Term ultrasound : 10-12 weeks
– 2nd checkup : 14-16 weeks
– 16-24 weeks : checkup every 4 weeks
– 24 to 30 weeks : checkup every 3 weeks
– 30 to 36 weeks : checkup every 2 weeks
– 36 to 42 weeks : checkup every week

3. Prenatal Screening
Decide before or within 8 weeks of pregnancy, whether you want to go for a prenatal screening. Most child’s are born healthy. However it is possible in the Netherlands to have you unborn baby tested for a number of congenital disorders. This involves the two screening. Both the screenings optional to choose.
– The screening for Down, Edwards and Patau syndromes
– The screening for fetal anomaly. This is a 20 week ultrasound scan.

Your midwife will also inform you about these tests. You can ask your midwife on the hospitals where the tests can be performed.

You can read more about it in our next blog here.

5. Apply for an insurance kit (Kraampakket)
Call your insurer and inform that you are pregnant. It is mandatory to have a maternity package from insurance. The package contains everything you need for your delivery and first days afterwards such as medical products, maternity dressings, mattress protectors etc.

4. Arrange Kraamzorg (Maternity Care)
There is no country in the world apart from Netherlands that provides a carer who supports women during or after childbirth. Kraamzorg provide assistance during the first week of the your baby arrival. It is important that you rest to be able to recover and adjust to the new situation. There is a concept of Kraamzorg(Maternity care carer) to help you out with the below tasks during the first week after delivery.
– Checks on you and your baby
– Guidance with breastfeeding
– Supports with everyday household work
– Takes care of preparation of meals(if you like)
– a few other additional tasks
Always register at the Kraamzorg as early as possible(betweek 12 to 20 week of pregnancy) as they are also very busy specially during summer period(a lot of babies are born during summer in Netherlands). The intake usually happen between 30 to 36 weeks pregnancy.
Tip : Always request a kraamzorg with breastfeeding expert during the intake.

5. Arrange a Maternity leave
If you are working, then you need to have maternity leaves arranged. For that you will need a pregnancy statement from your midwife. The pregnancy statement states that you are pregnant and the expected delivery date for you.
You may take leave upto 6 weeks before the due date. However it is mandatory to stop working at least 4 weeks before the due date. The total leave lasts 16 weeks. So you always have atleast 10 weeks after the child birth. You will receive maternity benefits equal to your salary.
If you have a partner, the partner is entitled to upto 5 weeks of leave within 6 months of child birth. This is applicable starting 1st July 2020. Partner will get 70% of salary from uwv.
The first 6 months after giving birth, you are entitled to take additional breaks for pumping.
From next year, the number of leave for pregnant woman and partner is going to be increased.

6. Decide where you want to give birth
Decide early on where you want to give birth? Would it be a home birth or a hospital birth? It is a tradition within Netherlands to give birth at home.
If you plan to give birth at home, the kraamzorg nurse will come to you before the birth to guide and support you. All the costs are covered within your insurance.
If you plan to give birth at the hospital, you will call the midwife. Midwife will come to your home to do a checkup and then assist you to the hospital. Note that full costs of delivery is not included in the insurance.

7. Prepare a bag for your delivery day
Prepare a bag with all the necessary things required for delivery. This must include clothes for your baby, comfortable clothes for yourself, a towel for yourself, Slippers.
You will get a big list from midwife, not everything is important or mandatory.

Inburgering : How to prepare

Everyone would like to know how should I prepare for inburgering exams !

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Speaking from my experience. I had attempted all 5 exams with in the same week. A few tips and learning according to me.

General
Learn a few basic words everyday and then a few basic sentences that are used in everyday life. The letters from banks, appointment letters, and other brief that you receive are usually in dutch, try not to translate them. Give it a try to read. You may not be able to understand the meaning of each and every work but slowly you will start understanding the sentences by relating a few words. Believe me, understanding the sentence instead of each and every word is more than enough.

Reading
The best way to prepare for readings is to start reading newspaper. The letters you receive at home. Usual contracts. Pay attention to all of these and try to understand with basic words. Do not forget to try DUO practice tests.
For me, Reading was the most easiest to do. It is just like a paragraph reading in English which we used to do in schools. Be smart, during the exam, do not focus on reading the paragraph but focus on question and then finding the answer in the paragraph.

Speaking
You will be usually asked two parts in the same question. For example :
Question : Wat voor fruit eet u graag? Vertel ook hoe vaak u fruit eet?
Translation : What kind of fruit do you like to eat? Also tell how often you eat fruit.

Always think like a child. Noone is looking for the real answer. Do not start thinking “which fruit do I really like?” and do not relate the answer to your real life. Answer should be as simple as possible. Also the answer must be derived from question itself which means most of the words to be used in your answer are from your questions.

Answer : Ik eet graag banaan en ik eet elkedag.
Translation : I like to eat banana and I eat everyday.

keep in mind, there are extra marks if you join the two sentences with and, or, if, because, however etc. Try more :

Question : Hoe vaak gebruikt u uw telefoon? Vertel ook waarvoor u uw telefoon gebruikt?
Translation : How often do you use your telephone? Also tell what for you use your telephone?

Answer : Ik gebruik mijn telefoon elkedag en ik gebruik het voor werk.
Translation : I use my telephone everyday and I use it for work.
(do not start thinking how many times you are really using your telephone in a day. Also do not think whether you use it for calls, gaming, reading etc)

Apart from this, go through the videos of Ad Appel on Youtube for more scenarios like this.

Listening
As per my experience, the DUO practice questions are enough for practicing listening.

Writing
The pattern of writing has been changed a little bit starting 2019. Also keep in mind, the key to writing your answer is the question itself. You can write the complete letter/email from question itself by using a few words. The salutation/concluding section such as dear …. or Yours sincerely etc, has special marks so do not forget to write it better. I would say mug up the start/end sections.
Filling the form is quite simple and fill in the blanks too. Keep in mind, think as simple as you can. Do not complicate your answer. And there are special marks for using – and, because, if, or, however etc. There are many free examples on Google.

KNM (Knowledge of dutch society)
Honestly I really mugged up the book “Netherlands in gang” but it did not help much. Atleast 50% of questions will be on the basis of your common sense and the rest 50% are related to festivals, important dates, etc from Netherlands in gang book.

ONA (Orientation Exam)
Fortunately I was having the appointment for ONA discussion towards the end of the day at 05:30 PM. It was almost time to leave for the day so everyone was so eager to wrap up the discussion as fast as they can. Lucky me !!
The discussion can go upto 40 min but for me it was for 15-20 min. Examiners were very helpful and if you are not understanding any questions, examiner will do their best to ask the question in a different way – as simple as possible. And they will take you through the portfolio by keeping a finger on the question. So you already know which question is being asked.

Last but not the Least
Practice, practice and practice !
Check the DUO practice question here for sure. And good luck for your exams !





Inburgering : A2 Exam Structure

Het Inburgeren !! Looking out for what does the inburgeren exam comprises of ? Here are the details and my experience of the exams.

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Which exams you need to take up as a part of level A2?
Following exams comprises of inburgering exams :
1. Reading
2. Writing
3. Listening
4. Speaking
5. Knowledge of dutch society (KNM)
6. Orientation on dutch labour market (ONA)

Reading
You will read text and answer questions. The will be 25 questions and the duration of exam is 65 min. Attempting 16-18 questions right gives you a chance to pass the exam.

Writing
You do the exam with a pen and paper. 4 assignments will be provided. This involves writing a short letter/email, filling out a form, fill in the blanks(4-6 questions), describe a picture etc. The exam is for 40 min. 75% right questions are good to pass the exam.

Listening
There will be short audio files and answer the questions on them with around 25 questions. The duration of exam is 45 min. If you have 16-20 questions correct, you have pretty good to clear the exam. if more than 20 questions are right, you definitely pass the exam.

Speaking
The duration of the exam is 35 min. There are two parts of the exam :
– 12 questions where you need to hear the recording for questions and record your answer by speaking. Each question 12 points. Total of 144 points. You will need 82 to 84 points to clear this part.
– Another 12 questions where you need not have to speak. These are the multiple choice questions. if you are having 9 questions right, you can clear this part as well.
Keep in mind, for clearing this exam, you will need to pass both the parts of the exam.

Since there are many people in the room taking the exam, there will be a lot of noise, be loud enough to speak and record. You can record your answer as many times as you want but also keep in mind the duration of the exam.

Knowledge of dutch society – KNM
Short films will be there in the exam such as shopping or going to the doctor. After each film, you need to answer some questions. The exam lasts 45 min. There can be 39-43 questions in the exam. If you make 26 questions right, you stand out a chance to clear the exam.
Believe me, 45 min is not at all enough for this exam. It is better to go through the revision of answers at the end of the exam if time permits.

Orientation on dutch labour market – ONA
ONA is about working and looking for work. You need to pre-fill a portfolio form which is similar to a resume and send it to DUO for the review. If the review is a success, the appointment will be provided otherwise it will be sent back to you for more questions or corrections.
In the appointment, you will have to speak and discuss your portfolio with 2 examiners. One is asking questions and discussing with you while the other one just examining the answers by sitting aside. The appointment will be recorded. It is more of the speaking exam. Grammar does not matter for this exam. You will be assessed on the ability to make simple sentences. The examiner will help you enough(or more than enough sometimes) to clear the exam. Do not be afraid of this exam.
You can also get exemption for this exam. I will publish a separate blog on how to get this exemption.

What you need to bring for the exams?
Bring a valid ID proof. You can also bring the letter for the exam which you received from DUO but this is optional. Pen, Paper, headphone etc will be provided to you at the exam spot.

Inburgering : Intro

It is difficult word ! What does Inburgering means and how does it help me? Looking forward for the answers?

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Dutch government promotes the civic integration for the people who wants to live for a longer duration or permanently within Netherlands.You must learn the dutch language and take up the Inburgering level A2 exams, if you want to apply for Permanent Residency or a Dutch nationality. If you pass this exam, then you are officially integrated.

Why is civic integration required?
You must be able to :
1. Find a work for yourself
2. know how to make a hospital appointment (Dutch Healthcare system)
3. know what type of schools are in Netherlands (Dutch Education)
For all these, the basic dutch is required to communicate with each other.

Mandatory Integration
If the integration is mandatory for you, DUO(Dienst Uitvoering Onderwijs/Ministry of education, culture and Science) will send a letter to you telling the date on which you have to start the integration. From this date, you have 3 years to integrate.

Voluntary Integration
However you can also integrate on voluntary basis which means you yourself want to integrate. One reason to do this is the Permanent Residency or Dutch Citizenship.

How to learn?
You can learn for the exam all by yourself or you can also do a course at a school. DUO does not have the text books to refer or provide. However DUO only provides the practice exams. Read the content of the exam here.

Test for Tuberculosis

Have you been referred by IND(Immigration and Naturalization service) for a TB test? Here are the steps you need to take.

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Find out if you are exempted from IND for taking a tuberculosis test.
There is no need of TB test if you belong to one of the countries listed here.
If you need to take up the tuberculosis test, read below.

After arriving within Netherlands, you will have to undergo a TB test within 3 months after the resident permit is granted.

What are the next steps?
If you need to take up the tuberculosis test, fill the Registration form for TBC immigrants and expats.You will be notified of your appointment via post. Fill one form per person. Your appointment will be with GGD (Municipality Health Services). Note that GGD and Huisarts are not the same. It is always better to call local GGD to ask for the appointment. Search for the GGD of your region here.

When you have an appointment with GGD, bring :
– Passport or ID card
– BSN number
– Pre-filled Referral form TB test

During the appointment, GGD will fill rest of the Referral form(#2 of the form) and send it to IND.

Is there a cost of taking up Tests?
Yes, the prices are per Jan 1st, 2020.
– Tuberculin skin test(Mantoux) € 28,55
– Chest X-ray € 45,00
– IGRA (Immune Gamma Release Assay) € 42,68

Will the costs included in my insurance?
All the fees charged for children under 18 will be reimbursed by the health insurance company. For the Adults, GGD will charge the health insurance company but it may or may not be included in your insurance scheme. Please check with your health insurance company in advance.


Apply for Driving License

Planning to buy or rent a car but do not have a driving license? Here is our guide on how to apply for license.

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Exchange Foreign Driving License
Do you know that you can exchange the driving license of your country for a dutch driving license. Yes this is true !

How can you apply for the exchange?
Walk-in at the city office(Gemeente) in person to apply for the exchange of license.(During Covid-19 situation, walk-in is closed so call the Gemeente and take an appointment) and bring all the documents with you.

What documents will you need for an exchange?
You will need :
– A foreign driving license(Make sure your name and address on driving license matches your proof of identification and the photo is clear enough to identify you)
– An identification proof (preferably passport)
– A Passport photo that meets official requirements(You can click this photo in any random photo booth available at train stations)
– A copy of 30% ruling document(You can get this document from your employer or if you are working here in Netherlands, you can also request from belastingdienst/Tax authority). If you do not have a 30% ruling document, you cannot exchange the foreign driving license.
Tip : Your dependent can also apply for an exchange on your 30% ruling document.
– If the text on your driving license in not in English, then bring an official translation.
– A certificate of fitness (Gezondheidsverklaring). You can purchase the Certificate of Fitness at a City Office. You can also purchase the certificate online via CBR using DigiD ID. The cost of certificate is € 37,80. Fill the form and send it to CBR online or via post for the certificate. You must take an appointment with the doctor if you are 75 years and above. Otherwise it is not needed.

How much does it costs?
– The certificate of fitness costs € 37,80.
– Exchange of driving license costs another €40.65+.

How long does it take?
If your application is approved, you will receive a notice from the RDW to come collect your document within 2 to 4 weeks. You can then collect the dutch driving license from City Office(Gemeente) in person within 3 months. This is the same place where you submitted the application.

What happens to the foreign license?
The original license or foreign license will be sent to the embassy of your country. You need to separately collect the license from there.

Apply a new dutch driving license (If not eligible for exchange)
If you are not eligible for exchange, then you need to take up a theory and practical exam before applying for a driving license. You can find details on CBR.nl
Theory exam must be passed before applying for practical exam. Theory exam will show that you recognize danger, well aware of traffic rules and traffic insights.Apply for theory exam here.
Practical exam where you will be assessed by an examiner riding next to you in a car. Most people cannot pass this exam in one go. So be well prepared.

Registration to Gemeente

Gemeente? Wondering if that is the a new word which you do not know !

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Ah, wondering what is Khe-meen-te? Do not worry about pronunciation. Gemeente is the dutch word for municipality or townhall. If you are relocating from abroad to Netherlands, you must register to the townhall as a resident. This is mandatory to get the BSN number(Burger Service Nummer). BSN is required for all the communications with the city and national government.

First time registration in the Netherlands?
You must contact Gemeente within 5 days of arrival to schedule an appointment. For appointment, call the city’s gemeente office. The appointment will be taken place at city office. You must have a residential address where you can register.

Registering Children?
Children who are 16 years or older can register themselves while the Children below 16 years of age needs to be accompanied by parent or guardian.

What are the documents needed?
You need following documents for registration :

– A valid proof of identity (Preferably a passport)
– Original and notarized copy of birth certificate(It was needed until year 2019 but a few townhall still ask for this document. Check with Gemeente when booking an appointment)
– A document showing you have the right to live at your address. This could be either a rental contract, or buying agreement if you bought the house, a letter of permission from the house owner with a copy of their ID or an official letter from a housing corporation.

Have you been to Netherlands before? Are you registering again?
You must contact Gemeente within 5 days of arriving Netherlands. You will need following documents :
– A valid proof of identity (Preferably a passport)
– A document showing you have the right to live at your address. This could be either a rental contract, or buying agreement if you bought the house, a letter of permission from the house owner with a copy of their ID or an official letter from a housing corporation.
– Certificate to prove your marital status if that is changed or you have children.

The Netherlands : Introduction

Understand the country, the people and the culture of the Netherlands !

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The Netherlands also called as Holland lies along the North Sea coast. The south of the Netherlands lies Belgium and east of Netherlands lies Germany. The capital of the Netherlands is Amsterdam, The Netherlands consists of 12 provinces as below with their individual capital cities.

Noord Holland – HaarlemLimburg – MaastrichtGroningen – Groningen
Zuid Holland – Den HaagGelderland – ArnhemFriesland – Leeuwarden
Zeeland – MiddelburgOverijssel – ZwolleFlevoland – Lelystad
Noord Brabant – Den BoschDrente – AssenUtrecht – Utrecht
12 provinces with capital cities

Around 27% of the Netherlands is below the sea level. There are many dijks or dunes.
The most important cities are Amsterdam, Rotterdam, The Hague and Utrecht.

Kingdom : The kingdom of Netherlands consists of The Netherlands and 6 Islands in the Caribbean sea – Aruba, Bonnaire, Curacao, Saba, Sint Maarten and Sint Eustatius.

Population : The population is around 16 million and more.

Religion: Culture of Netherlands is diverse. There is a freedom of religion in the Netherlands. Anyone can believe what they want.Most of the population do not believe in religion at all.

Language : The spoken language on television, schools, newspaper, books etc is dutch. The second language is Frisian(Friesland) which is an influence of French and English language.

Season : You can have all 4 seasons here at Netherlands. Summers are not too warm as the sea influences the weather(17 to 30 degrees). Winters are usually very cold(-2 to 10 degrees)

Looking for a place to Live?

Looking for a house/flat/apartment? Rental or to buy? Here is our perfect guide.

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Where and how to find a house to live is always tiring for everyone. We will provide you an insight with the housing market within the Netherlands. It will make your efforts a bit easy with all the upcoming information you already have.

In Dutch, the frequently used terms are “Te huur” which means “To Rent” and “Te Koop” which means “To buy”. Do not overthink right now as we will take you a bit deeper into both the categories and also tips on how to search the dream house you are willing to rent or buy.

Rental Apartments/House(Te Huur)
There are three types of apartments/houses to rent. Fully furnished, Semi or non furnished and Shell. Shell means the house/apartment does not have the floor or paint on the walls, kitchen appliances etc. Everything needs to be setup by the owner on his own expense.

You can search for Rental apartment/houses via the following popular websites :
Pararius.nl
Funda.nl
kamernet
HousingAnywhere
Smartwonen

If you are a student, you can also go for student hostels or share a room.

Apart from this, you can search the apartments from following facebook groups :

Amsterdam rent a room, partment or studio
Rent in Amsterdam
Amsterdam Housing Apartment
Student Housing Amsterdam
Facebook Marketplace

There are more facebook groups for popular cities.

Tip :
1) All the requests via above websites goes to real estate agents and they can only charge if you finalize the house/apartment. Agent fees can be upto Eur 250.
2) It is better to go for unfurnished apartment/house if you are here for a long term. You can buy all the required stuff second hand from facebook groups with a spending of no more than Eur 1000 and therefore save the extra money paying every month for the furnished apartment.
3) Always check if the rent is including utilities (gas, water, electricity) or without.
4) Carefully read your contract, Check for the notice period when leaving the house. In the contract it should not be more than one month. Also check if there is a minimum duration you need to rent the house.

Apartment/Houses to buy (Te Koop)
You can either buy the one which are already listed on websites or via real estate agents. You can also go for a nieuwbouw apartments/houses which are newly built and the possession will be somewhere two years down the line.
You can have a look at the available houses to buy at the Funda.nl

Hiring an agent in this case is best as per my experience.

Where can I find an overview of nieuwbouw in my city?
You can have a look at housing section in gemeente website.
Specifically for Amsterdam, you can subscribe Amsterdamwoont.nl for nieuwbouw apartment list or you can have also send an email to Zelfbouw@amsterdam.nl if you want to buy a land and build the house on your own.

Popular Cities
The popular cities for renting or buying the apartment or house are Amsterdam, Amstelveen, Utrecht, Almere, Rotterdam, The Hague, Uithoorn and Haarlem. The public transport(Metro, Bus, Tram, Train) from all these cities is always great. You will reach most of the places within 15 to 45 min depending upon where you stay.
These are the most popular cities therefore expensive too. You can expect Eur1500 to Eur 2000 for a 2BHK rental property.

Almere & Uithoorn are quite cheaper in comparison to the rest of the cities.