European Youth Portal

Information and opportunities for young people across Europe.

inburgering in Zuid-Holland
Photo by: Geschiedenis van Zuid-Holland

Mandatory integration

The Netherlands requires everyone who is granted a residence permit to integrate. Integration means learning to speak, read and write in the Dutch language and knowing how Dutch society works.

Why mandatory?

The integration law is meant to ensure that everyone who lives in the Netherlands also takes full part in Dutch society. After all, if you don’t speak the language, even simple things like grocery shopping, finding a job and getting to know your neighbours can become huge hurdles. And besides that, even if we are all the same deep down inside, each country still has its own unwritten rules and customs. Where Dutch people are concerned, you can certainly find plenty of ‘unique’ traits: we have a king who’s a fan of Armin van Buuren, we have difficulty accepting compliments, we kiss three times in greeting and we eat raw herring with onions... So if you want to live in this country of sometimes odd customs, it’s good to know how we tend to do things. And also how we don’t do them!


I integrate, you integrate…

Integration is big business in the Netherlands. There are scores of schools and companies that offer courses to learn and practise using Dutch specifically for the components of the civic integration exam.


The components of the civic integration exam are:

  • Knowledge of Dutch Society
  • Speaking skills
  • Reading skills
  • Listening skills
  • Writing skills


The Knowledge of Dutch Society (abbreviated KNS) test covers all sorts of questions about the Netherlands such as which countries border it, what is a dyke and which city is the nation’s capital.

Interested to find out how you’d score on the exam? Test yourself!


There are various rules surrounding civic integration. For example, did you know…

  • that the civic integration exam is mandatory for everyone who receives a Dutch residence permit?
  • that it’s up to you to find and register for a course to learn the Dutch language and about all those typical customs – not always so easy for newcomers to the country?
  • that you have to pass the civic integration exam within three years after receiving your residence permit?