Panic over a healthcare letter

What happens if an international student gets a letter, all in Dutch, with only one paragraph in English. And that says 'If you do not take any action, you are risking a fine'. Right! He panics! The Dutch health care organisation CVZ does it all the time, though.

Hundreds of letters went out in March. All in Dutch. With this one, threatening paragraph. The result: lots of worried internationals who start calling the University’s International Desk.

The letter is from CVZ, a branch of the Dutch government that regulates healthcare insurances. They cross-reference registered residents with those who have a mandatory health insurance. If you don’t have an insurance, but were supposed to, you can be fined 350 Euros.

Getting the mail

The problem is: a lot of  letters are sent to international students, most of whom do not need Dutch healthcare at all, because they’re under thirty and/or don’t have a job. Marco van der Vinne, a representative on the University’s International Desk, claims they are – for the most part – unnecessary.


‘It’s very annoying’, he says. ‘Every week we get about ten students panicking, because they don’t know what the letters are about and we give them the form to send off, even though it’s unnecessary.’

CVZ is supposed to be filtering the process, Van der Vinne says. But if it is, it isn’t working.

Still. All students who did receive a letter and don’t send off the form to the Social Insurance Bank (SVB) before the 18th of June are risking a fine of 350 Euros, even though for the ones that already have Dutch healthcare or never even needed it, the fine can be rescinded.

Also, international students easily dismiss the letter, as it has been written almost completely in Dutch. The reference to a web page with more information, is a new initiative, after too many students didn’t react in time.

For those who do need Dutch insurance: it will cost you about a hundred Euros a month. Still, it’s not as bad as it sounds. American studies student Sean Beech from the UK, has managed to find a job working for Vauxhall and Audi. ‘The benefits of working far outweigh these issues’, says Sean. ‘Most of the money can be claimed back. And when you work a certain number of hours, you can claim the Dutch grants and get free train travel in the Netherlands.’


These perks are not applicable to Erasmus students, however, although the money spent on healthcare can still, in most cases, be claimed back.

If it turns out that you did not require Dutch healthcare after all, as you don’t work, the fine can be rescinded. However, this can be a  complicated procedure. So: if you did get one of thes letters, send off the required form immediately!