Exemption to the entry ban for researchers

Due to restrictions aimed at slowing the spread of coronavirus it is not possible to travel to the Netherlands from a number of countries. Researchers from a country subject to an entry ban may travel to the Netherlands under certain conditions if their work has demonstrable value for the Dutch economy and Dutch society. The exemption applies, for example, to public health researchers.

Please note: there is a ban on passenger flights from South Africa and countries in Central and South America.

Conditions for research trips to the Netherlands

You may travel to the Netherlands for research if:

  • Your research meets the criteria necessary to qualify as ‘essential’ to the economy and society. If you meet these conditions, you fall under the ‘highly qualified professionals’ exemption category. This exemption applies to citizens of non-EU countries who by virtue of their specialist skills or knowledge are needed to assist with the economic recovery of the EU after the pandemic. The exemption also applies to persons who have a residence permit under the Council Directive concerning the EU Blue Card system (Directive 2009/50), the Intra-Corporate Transfer (ICT) Directive (Directive 2014/66) or Directive 2016/801 (as it pertains to researchers), or who have a national permit for highly qualified third-country nationals, but have not yet been able to travel to the EU because of the entry restrictions. An important criterion is that your physical presence in the Netherlands is urgent and essential.
  • As a researcher you meet all of the applicable conditions.
  • Your stay in the Netherlands will be shorter than 90 days.
  • If you intend to stay longer than 90 days, please refer to the IND to apply for a residence permit as a researcher.
  • Family members of researchers do not fall under the exemption.
  • No more than 250 researchers are allowed entry per month.

Documents required for entry into the Netherlands

If you meet the conditions for admission to the Netherlands for research purposes, you must present the following documents at the border:

  • A letter from the Netherlands Enterprise Agency (RVO) recommending your admission to the Netherlands under the exemption for researchers. A printout of a digital copy of the letter may be presented, provided that the signed original remains available for verification.
  • Proof that you have a return ticket.
  • A visa, if required.
  • The regular border procedures based on the Schengen Borders Code apply.

Applying for an exemption to the entry ban

The procedure for applying for an exemption to the entry ban as of 16 October 2020 is described below. 

Submitting requests to the Netherlands Enterprise Agency (RVO)

  • The host research organisation must submit a request to the RVO for an exemption to the entry ban, on the researcher’s behalf, using the digital request form. The request asks for basic information and must include a statement by or on behalf of the researcher and the letter of invitation from the recognised host organisation.
  • Requests must be submitted by a university, research institute or research company located in the Netherlands which is recognised by the IND as a host organisation (referred to as a ‘recognised sponsor’ by the IND) within the framework of EU Directive 2016/801 (PDF download) and which, in this specific case, will benefit from the researcher’s admission to the Netherlands.
  • If the request meets the requirements and the maximum number of admissions for the month has not been reached, the RVO will recommend that the researcher be admitted to the Netherlands for the purpose of conducting research. The RVO will provide a letter that the researcher can present to border authorities upon arrival. The researcher may present a digital copy of this signed letter, provided that the signed original remains available for verification.
  • It takes up to two weeks to assess requests. Requests must therefore be received by the RVO at least two weeks prior to the journey. Requests that are not received in time and incomplete applications will not be processed.

Requirements for letters of invitation

  • The letter of invitation must be signed by a recognised host organisation within the framework of EU Directive 2016/801 (PDF download) which, in this specific case, will benefit from the researcher’s admission to the Netherlands. The letter must state that a specific form of collaboration has been agreed upon and that the researcher’s presence in the Netherlands is necessary in the interests of the Dutch economy and society. More information about the requirements and criteria can be found on the RVO website.
  • The signed letter of invitation may be submitted digitally, provided that the signed original remains available for verification.

If you have any questions about the procedure, you can contact the RVO.

10-day self-quarantine

Researchers who are exempted from the entry ban should self-quarantine for 10 days upon arrival in the Netherlands. An exception is made only for activities that are necessary for carrying out the work for which they have travelled to the Netherlands.

Applying for a visa

If you are a researcher and a citizen of a country subject to a visa requirement then the usual short stay visa procedure applies.

Please note: do not apply for a visa unless you can submit your application to an embassy or External Service Provider and you are actually able to travel to the Netherlands. Also check the International Air Transport Association (IATA) conditions for international travel.