EU students face insurance fine
The ISD posted a notice on their Facebook page on Monday afternoon with a simple request: do not throw away your mail. ‘International students may have received a letter in Dutch from Zorginstituut Nederland. Please do not throw this letter away! If you do not act on it, you may receive a fine.’
Students who received the letter should contact the ISD as soon as possible by sending an e-mail or visiting at the desk. ‘We’ll help you with the next steps!’
Unfortunately, the next step may be to pay the fine, which could be up to 356 euros. But Jolien van Lierop, an ISD student manager, says that students can get the money back – once they prove that they don’t have to have Dutch insurance.
International students from EU countries who do not have a job and are younger than 30 are the only group that is actually exempted from needing Dutch insurance – they only need EU insurance. However, ZiN still recognizes them as being uninsured if they don’t have Dutch basic health insurance within three months of registering at the municipality.
As a result, ZiN has been notifying the students for months, beginning this summer, that they have to have Dutch insurance and fine them for failing to get it.
According to Van Lierop, it’s an issue that is likely impacting many students, but an exact number is difficult to find: in thoery, every EU student who registers at the municipality could receive one. Van Lierop says that quite a few of the students who, having received the letter, come to the ISD often ask to take several extra forms back for their friends and housemates to fill in, too.
Although the most recent round of letters is actually a second or even third notice, Van Lierop wonders if the first notices were ever sent in the first place. They were supposedly sent during the summer, which is when international students are almost always out of town.
Another issue seems to be that international students don’t always take letters written in Dutch seriously – that could mean they either don’t open them at all, or they throw them away because they cannot read them.
Van Lierop says they want to help all impacted students. The ISD provides an objection letter in Dutch with instructions for students to fill out the required fields, as well as a form from SVB – the Sociale Verzekering Bank – for students to have their tax status confirmed. By following those steps, they can get the situation straightened out.
But Van Lierop begs all international students: ‘Please, open your mail!’ she says. ‘We ask the Housing Office to have the managers in the international student houses to tell the students that they have to open every piece of mail they get, especially if it’s in Dutch. All of the important government notices are Dutch.’
It’s not the first time this has happened, either. Every year, EU students panic about the warning letter from ZiN that is still only written in Dutch.