Aussies in Sweden
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There are two basic types of health insurance in NL, ziekenfonds and (private). The main difference in practical terms is that particulier costs about 6 times the amount that ziekenfonds does.  If you are self employed, or if you earn buckets of money, then you are obliged to take out particulier. The moral of the story: if you are self employed, it's not a bad idea to get a part time job as well - if only for a day a week - then you may qualify for ziekenfonds through your employer.   Many employers will pay half of your premium; some may have special deals with certain insurers to get you a much better rate.

As for choosing: I've found the health insurance comparison sites to be pretty useless.  On a test run for a friend the cheapest premium was €. 70, then the same test run on a random ziekenfonds site gave us €. 31!  Consequently I'd recommend going to instead - an informative official govt website with links to all health insurance companies in NL (and it's in English too). The various health insurance company sites are in Dutch only, but send them an email with your postcode, date of birth and roughly what sort of cover you want (dental? physio?) and they'll send you an offer by post or email. If you have family here that are to be insured through you (partner and/or kids) don't forget to include their details as well.


A weird Dutch thing: in NL you are expected to see one GP and one only - you cannot just pop into another one near to work one day. You have to choose one in your designated area (bad luck if, like me, you live in a village and have a limited choice of weirdos), advise your health insurer, and then that's it.  Purportedly, the reason is that your doc needs to be close to you for house calls. Well, on the one occasion when both my partner and I considered we could be seriously ill (we both had a ghastly lurgy, a high fever, and could barely walk, let alone drive) the doctor told me -you can come in during office hours. >  If you can't, then go to the hospital. We sweated it out at home. Choose carefully!   But - if you are dissatisfied with your doctor and want to change, do NOT believe anyone who tells you this is illegal (as one doctor I saw tried to tell me). I have verified that it is perfectly acceptable, as long as you advise your health insurer of the change.

Another unexpected hurdle is that it isn't uncommon for a doctor to say he is -full up and no longer accepts new patients. Even worse, you may find that this is the response you get from all doctors in your area. Try ringing your health insurer and see if they can give some tips.


These are also quite often -full up - and finding one that will accept a new patient can be hard. But, unlike GPs, you're not obliged to choose one in your area (dentists don't make house calls).  And one more thing about Dutch dentists to watch for: I've never compared dentist notes with friends before, so maybe it's just me, but ... If I was getting a hefty filling in Australia, involving drilling and hacking, they never asked if I wanted a local - I just got one.  Not here!   Lots of Dutch prefer not to have shots at all (some don't even for extractions - eeeeeek!) so you should make it clear to your dentist if you want one.


Pharmacies, like GPs, are a monogamous matter in NL.   You pick one and you damn well stick to it!  Reasoning this time is that they can keep a better track on what you get. Well, despite getting the same prescription every month for the last 4 years at the same (and only) pharmacy in my village, they manage to stuff it up almost every time.  I have to explain it all again, and there is often a phone call to my doctor to confirm what I say. *sigh*   But when in Rome

Health Department   The GGGD is sort of like our Health Department, with advice on drugs, vaccinations, STDs, childcare, pest control (you click to change it to English, but the Dutch part is much more comprehensive)

Health insurer listing informative official governmentt website with details of all health insurance companies in NL.

Medicare and HIC Aust govt site

AUS - NL reciprocal healthcare agreement details about what your Medicare card covers you for during short stays in the Netherlands, and what you have to do to be eligible

Psychiatric help - listing All in Dutch, which is the last thing you need when you're in a crisis, but at least you can get some addresses and phone numbers. Some tips: RIAGG is a regional mental health outpatients centre, and they are found all over NL.  If you have any sort of Dutch health cover then you can be treated here without extra costs.   They have psychiatrists as well as therapists, and you'll find most of them will speak enough English to be able to help you.  Waiting times vary from region to region.

Individual therapy

This can be quite pricey, but you the AWBZ (Algemene Wet Bijzondere Ziektekosten) - a health law that ensures certain health services are available to everyone with Dutch health cover - you can also be treated individually by a psychotherapist/psychiatrist if you have a reference from your GP.   You have to find a -vrijgevestigd psychotherapeut - and you can get a list of these in your region via your health insurance company. Waiting lists can be long

Remedial therapy and massage Adelaidian Vince Linckers qualified Remedial Therapist in 1996, and has treated patients for sporting, working, overuse, ergonomic and motor vehicle injuries, Parkinsons Disease, plus Relaxation and Therapeutic massage for stress relief. Amongst Vince's clientele here are pro cyclists (including Patrick Jonker) and pro footy (okay, soccer) players.  Before setting up business in Zwolle, he had a practice in Adelaide.  I can personally vouch for him being a nice guy, and for being a bloody good sport at agreeing to pose for the Australians Abroad Cheesecake Calendar!   He also offers massage courses.  (Oh, and I love the flags indicating language on your site, Vince!)

Big on the Inside (is your weight really physical?) Aussie Jacinta Noonan has a degree in psychology, a qualified Life Coach and NLP Master Practitioner. She is based in Haarlem and runs workshops both here and in Australia. Further details on the website!<


Getting married in the Netherlands The paperwork required is a shocker, but despite that, our wedding here in September 2003 was a delight.  Here are some points you may want to consider, and some other tips to boot.

TRADITIONS - bilingual ceremony You'll

find your Gemeentehuis (town hall) will probably be more than happy to conduct the ceremony in both English and Dutch.  (The one in my village even did it partly in Polish for some people we know.) Other variations to the ceremony - We also said we wanted to make a short speech to each other before the vows were made. They had never heard of this being done, but thought it was a delightful idea. We also decided to have bridesmaids and groomsmen (not the same people as our witnesses) which they thought was rather cute.  If you have any other specific requests, just ask: they're usually pretty flexible.


One thing that shocked me at the first wedding I went to in NL was how many women were dressed in black, some even in white (am I showing my age here??)   If you'd rather not have that at your wedding, it might be an idea to mention it on the invitation in some way. (I wasn't fussed at mine, but I'm glad I knew in advance.)

guest list

This one trips up a lot of newcomers to NL.  Over here you have two guest lists, an A list and a B list.  Usually after the wedding there's a reception, to which both lots come. After the triple kissing you get cake and coffee.  Then the B listers have to go home!  The listers get to stay on for dinner, music etc. I just couldn't bring myself to do this at my wedding, so we switched the order around: we had just the A listers from 12 midday onwards, and then the B list lot were invited as of the eveningThis worked quite well. A lot of the old rellies (A list) were tired by then and went home anyway.  And after the swish bit we were ready for a proper pardy!


Whether or not the other half is a Dutchie, you may want to add some Aussie feel to the occasion. These are some of the ideas and points that have been discussed on the Australians Abroad message board, and some hints on how to find the necessary parts.

Bouquet, floral decorations

quite a lot of Australian flowers are available in NL, including wattle, kangaroo paws and eucalyptus leaves.  Protea flowers are also pretty common (they always make me think of home, although they are actually South African.)  My wedding bouquet had kangaroo paws, gum leaves and tulips. Availability depends on the season, so talk to your florist.


This is probably the easiest way to bring a bit of Australia to the wedding, both at the ceremony and at the reception.  We had a lot of Australian rock music in between the other music, and it made me feel right at home (with the aid of a few glasses of champers!). You could even have a bush dance: there are a lot of Irish bands in NL, and there's little difference between Irish music and Aussie bush music.  If you want to have it just right, you could get the sheet music and ask them if they can play it - usually not a problem for them.

Presents FOR the guests

Yes!   Not only do you GET a present at your wedding here, by tradition you also give them one. Here's a good opportunity to do something Aussie
* a little jar of Australian honey
* a little bottle of eucalyptus oil
* a candle with a gum leaf on it
We decided to be symbolic and gave them all a tulip bulb and a few wattle seeds, packed in a wedding cake bag with a sheet of instructions. (N.B. Golden Wattle can survive most Dutch winters outside.)

Presents FROM the guests

I don't know if this is usual in Australia now too, but every wedding I've been to here has had written on the invitation -kadotip - (-present hint - ) and then a picture of an envelope - this means they would prefer it if you just give them money in an envelope.  I find that a tad impersonal, but then again, realistically, weddings cost an arm and a leg.

Seeds - Golden Wattle This New Zealand supplier has a large variety of Australian seeds.   I tried several Australian ones, but had no luck - most didn't even bother to reply. I bought 2 x 50g packets of Golden Wattle seeds (Acacia pycnantha) - a total of approx 6000 seeds - for NZ$94 including P&P, enough for several in each packet (just to be sure).

Weddingcake bags

impossible to find in NL (or were for me). I enquired through several places in the UK, but in the end found the cheapest (and in fact the quickest) were to be bought from Australian suppliers. Most will take payment by credit card. I got mine through Your Invited (sic)


This one took me completely by surprise. I got married in September 2003, and decided I'd be an old-fashioned gal and use only my husband's name henceforth. I could not have guessed the battle ahead of me ... but I won!   Read on:

At our -ondertrouw - appointment they asked us what name/s we would be using after marriage, e.g. just the husband's, just the wife's, a hyphenised combination of the two, or different ones each. We said we would both be using just his name.  When we got our marriage certificates, I was rather annoyed to see it stated for me<

,p> - name before marriage: Moritz -
- name after marriage: Moritz -

I assumed an error had been made and asked them to correct it.  I was told no, under Dutch law you can never legally change your name at birth. I can USE the surname - van Veen - , but legally my surname will always be - Moritz - .

I argued that I was Australian, and that Australians ARE entitled to change their names after marriage but it got me nowhere.   I phoned the embassy, and as (Murphy's) luck would have it, that very day (01.10.2003) new passport laws had come into effect, and it was a lot more stringent. I had to prove I used my new name. I couldn't change anything in NL without showing my ID with my married name as - van Veen - , nor in Australia without faxing them my marriage certificate (which clearly stated my name after marriage was - van Veen - , implying it was my choice of married surname) so it looked like I was stuck.

I wrote to the Dutch Govt (via Postbus 51), and eventually got a letter from the Dienst Burgerzaken - responsible for the legal area of foreigners' names in NL it seems - who told me in great detail that according to this and that international law, I was not allowed to change my name.  I sent this letter the Embassy, exasperated, and not long after got the wonderful news that the problem for Australians and their choice of name had been raised at a passport conference, and it was agreed that it could be handled differently in our case.  You still have to provide various forms of proof, but the standard comments on the Dutch marriage certificate could be ignored.  (As they say, condition - bring  when you make your pns apply, so talk to the consular officer about what you can assport interview appointment.)

As soon as my new passport was issued in my married name, I took it to the Gemeentehuis, and they were obliged to issue a new marriage certificate with

- name before marriage: Moritz -
- name after marriage: van Veen - .

As soon as that was done, they also had to change my details in the GBA (Gemeentelijke Basis Administratie) which is the definitive database of all citizens and residents in the Netherlands.  All govt bodies linked to the GBA had my name automatically changed in their own database (e.g. the tax dept, the visa office).  I also paid the Gemeentehuis for a document to prove that this had been done (an -Uittreksel van de GBA - ) and with this, my new marriage certificate and passports (old and new) in hand, I confronted all of the institutions who were still insisting my name couldn't be changed: e.g. the doctor, the hospital, the health insurance company, the chemist, my employer, the bank - and after an initial struggle, they all changed it.  No one argues with the GBA!

Remember: it will probably be the first time anyone has ever tried to do this with them before, so they will be completely baffled. Stay nice! They will keep asking you what your maiden name (- meisjesnaam - ) is/was, what your husband's name is, and they will probably keep on thinking YOU are the one who is confused,  Tell them you have changed your -geslachtsnaam - (the name for your permanent name at birth) and that this is possible because you are Australian.  (Then they'll realize they probably just haven't had this scenario before) and lay all of the papers in front of them.  Laying the 4 documents in front of them each time seemed to make it a lot easier for them to understand.  Some made a few phone calls, but all did it in the end.  The doctor's assistant didn't want to do it, but once I had pointed out that the health insurance wouldn't pay for -Moritz - any more, she did.

Your residency permit card will have to be re-issued. You can just call them and ask them for the relevant papers for this.  When they checked in their computer, they could see that my name had already changed there, and made no fuss at all...

Also, note that if you have a Dutch drivers licence still with your maiden name, that legally you MUST have a new one issued (at the standard fee) to update your new name as well.

Don't forget to change details on your frequent flyers cards after you get your new passport, otherwise they won't accept them.

Yay!  I am now legally Sandy van Veen.


Whereas in Australia you could go to one lawyer for most of your basis legal needs (property transfer, drawing up a will, representing you in court, etc) in the Netherlands there are two professions: the advocaat and the notaris. A rough division would be: the notaris is the paper guy (wills, mortgages, etc) and the advocaat does the fighting (court cases, famliy law, etc).


About the Dutch legal system This site gives good, clear information in laymen's terms on how the Dutch legal system works, including some links and statistics.  (click on - information in English - in the bottom LHS.)

Clara Wichmann Instituut National organisation specialising in legal rights for women. (NL)

Digital notaris useful site with information about several aspects of Dutch law, including info on wills and inheritance law, legalisation of signatures, property conveyance, etc, and a handy list of Dutch legal terms with explanations in English.  Notaris in NL have set fees, which are also on the website, albeit in Dutch only.

Legal Aid Locations all over NL, offer limited free legal advice.  They can assist with advice on - What to do if you are fired? If you are threatened to be deported? If your benefit is suddenly stopped? And what if you are told that you do not qualify for rent rebate or a student grant? Or in case of an accident? - . They may not always be able to solve your problem, but they ought to be able to steer you in the right direction.

Listing of all lawyers (advocaten) just enter your town beside -vestingsplaats - and tick the box -gratis kennismakingsgesprek - (these lawyers will give you a free introductory chat) (NL)

Holistic Lawyer This site is in Dutch, but you can read about Holistic Law in English at


Everaert Advocaten Immigration Lawyers Location: Amsterdam (NH) This one is quoted in the news regularly.

Hamerslag & van Haren Immigration Lawyers Location: Amsterdam (NH)

IMAD IMAD is an independent commercial organisation that provides services concerning immigration into the Netherlands. Location: Zoetermeer (ZH)

King Immigration Law Counsellors Location: Leiden (ZH)


They also handle other aspects of law, but also specifically advertise immigration on their website.

Ausma de Jong Location: Nieuwegein (U) (NL)

Lam en Müller Location: Alphen a/d Rijn (ZH) (NL)

Oudegracht no website, but there are details on this page, including email & telephone.  Location: Alkmaar (NH) (NL)

Snijders Location: Boxtel (NB)

Van Kuppenveld no website, but there are details on this page, including email & telephone.  Location: Den Bosch (NB) (NL)

Veraart de Granada This one is a truly interesting one: one of the partners, Chris Veraart, is also the author of both fiction and non-fiction relating to law.  He was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis ni 1981.  The practice specialises in cases of wrongful accusation, but it also takes on cases of immigration rights, and family law.  They emphasize: -we opt for a personal and most informal relationship with our clients, whose interests are paramount to us. - Location: Alkmaar (NH) (NL)

Weteringkade Location: den Haag (ZH) (NL)



TEL: 1 1 2

Help for victims Slachterofferhulp is an independent organisation run by approx 1500 volunteers in 75 locations in NL. They assist victims of crimes and traffic accidents with advice and support for the resulting practical and emotional problems.   E.g. They can help with completing forms and letters in Dutch: accompany you to the police, lawyer or doctor.  Website is all in Dutch, but if you click on ADDRESSEN you'll get a list of all locations and their phone numbers, and - as ever - the multilingual Dutch are sure to have an English speaker to help you. (NL)

Police informative site on what they do, how to find them, and also about the 2,500 -voluntary police - here.  Tel: 0900 - 8844 for regular enquiries.
They have another awfully useful site with details on all sorts of laws, fines, drugs, etc and on which you can also ask questions anonymously, but it's all in Dutch.

Shelters English language site describing the various shelters in NL, for homeless, for women, for children etc.  Note that although these -safe houses - are subsidised, you still usually have to pay a certain amount per day.   Further details tel: 030 - 2316403, or email

see also details on this page under LEGAL HELP, RACISM, and WOMEN IN CRISIS


J'Accuse Amsterdam based committee that tackles all forms of racism, discrimination and repression.

Meldpunt Discriminatie Amsterdam

http://www.xs4all/~melddisc/ independent foundation; objective is to publicize and combat discrimination on grounds of origin, religion or colour, in the widest possible context, including housing, education, sports, even refusal to enter bars etc.  You can click on ENGLISH to change the language.  For more information: P.O. Box 15514, 1001 NA Amsterdam,tel 020 - 6385551,


Domestic violence Dutch Government policy re domestic violence in English

Fiom   Fiom assists women with matter such as pregnancy; abortion; if you wish to arrange adoption of your child; inability to have children; sexual abuse; rape; incest; domestic violence.
Head office: tel: 073 - 6128821, or check the map here and click on your area for the nearest Fiom office to you.  Privacy is assured.

Women's refuges

 In Dutch it is either a - vrouwenopvang - or -blijf van mijn lijf - (literally -keep away from my body - ).  They tend to be chronically full (as they are in most countries) and you may find the only available spot is at the far end of NL. Also: you have to pay - often several weeks in advance - in order to stay there.  They are not a form of cheap accomodation - they are -safe houses - for people in crisis situations. 

These websites are all in Dutch, but I've added the phone numbers too:

Amsterdam (in English)tel: 020 - 6130245 or tel: 020 - 61160 22
Dordrecht tel: 078 - 6141451

Goirle tel: 013 - 5433073

Haarlem tel: 023 - 5472999

Overijssel tel: 0900 - 4333333

Rotterdam tel: 010 - 4761680

Vlissingen tel: 0118 - 469869

more - Blijf Van Mijn Lijf - refuges around NL

Alkmaar                   072 - 5620356
Amersfoort              033 - 4651050
Apeldoorn               026 - 3396969
Beverwijk                0251 - 242627
Den Helder             0223 - 638150
Eindhoven              0900 - 2021125
Emmen                   0591 - 648342
Enschede               0900 - 4333333
Groningen              050 - 5798741
Haarlem                 023 - 5327825
Heerlen                  045 - 5711684
Hengelo                 0900 - 4333333
Leeuwarden           058 - 2130384
Nijmegen                026 - 3340041
Utrecht                   0900 - 2300300
Venlo                     077 - 3549945
Zaandam               075 - 6159089
Zeeland                 0118 - 469869
Zwolle                   0900 - 4333333


Not a nice thought, but it happens every day, and it leaves you least able to look things up, so ...

Reporting a death<

There is a national freecall number for reporting a death - tel: (0800) 7837343.

A doctor will need to come and determine cause of death.

If the deceased is an Australian citizen - especially if he/she was only temporarily in NL, contact the Consular Section of the Australian Embassy.< They can assist with arrangements, and contacting family in Australia.

Funeral directors then enter UITVAARTVERZORGING beside "wat?" and your town beside "waar?" - you'll get a list of funeral directors.  Many have their own website.  He/she can best advise you on the legal requirements and guide you on all of the things you'll need to consider.  Dutch traditions are sometimes quite different to the way we do things in Australia - don't be afraid to ask about things that mean something personally to you.   You'll find they're quite flexible. e.g. Dutch law stipulates that the burial should normally take place within 5 days of death, but if e.g. family are arriving from Australia, you can ask for an extension on this.

Burial in Australia

If you wish to have the deceased, or the ashes, returned to Australia, ask your funeral director for advice, and also contact the Australian Embassy.  They can assist with advice on the necessary Australian requirements for this. It can be quite expensive, even for just having the urn sent.  (A tip: I knew a couple that once came to Europe and simply took the urn with their son's ashes back with them on the plane.  I don't know if this is still permitted, but it is a much cheaper - and more personal - option.)

Grief Counselling Foundation - The National Grief Counselling Foundation (In Dutch: LSR) aims to support people in mourning after the loss of a loved one.  The activities of the National Grief Counselling Foundation contribute to the support of relatives in the mourning process. - When you click on the link above, it looks empty - you have to click on one of the headers at the top for the info.

Grief counselling for children This counseling service specializes in supporting children in their bereavement process, and help for their parents or guardians to deal with the children's grief.  They also have discussion groups for children and adults, as well as school classes.

Donation of organs and tissue The Dutch Foundation for the Information / Education of Organ and Tissue Donors (known as the FDI).   Informative website on the laws, whys and wherefores of being or becoming a tissue donor. You can request a donor card online.  It takes little effort to become a donor, and can make such a big difference to someone (maybe even more than one person) in the event of your death.  WELL WORTH CONSIDERING!!

Different kind of cemetary If you find the usual sort of cemetary bleak, and don't like the idea of your loved one being buried there, have a look at this place.   It is in a natural wood setting, and graves can be marked in anyway you like - with a boulder, with a tree, or a sculpture.  There are several beautiful examples on the website.  You can also scatter ashes in the woods (this is generally not allowed in NL). Unfortunately no English on the site - mainly Dutch, with a small part in German.  (NL)

Dutch Voluntary Euthanasia Society


childporn online Dutch organisation of volunteers that works in cooperation with the Dutch police.  if you get sent, or happen to find, child pornography on the internet you can report it on this website.  They are particularly after sites in NL, but they will pass info on about sites originating from other countries.

New to Holland New to Holland is intended for foreign persons who are considering coming to the Netherlands to live, work or study here. This site is also useful, however, for migrants who are already in the Netherlands, as it is for employers who wish to bring a foreign employee to the Netherlands. New to Holland provides information on the matters someone has to arrange with the Government if he comes to the Netherlands for a shorter or longer period of time. The personal situation will serve as starting point, therefore no large amounts of general information, but only those issues that are relevant to the person involved. Moreover, this information is presented in chronological order: what has to be arranged prior to departure for the Netherlands, directly after arrival and in subsequent months.

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