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The Dutch healthcare system


The general practitioner and referrals

The Dutch healthcare system is very focused on your general practitioner (huisarts). The general practitioner or GP is a specialist trained in treating the most common health problems. The general practitioner can prescribe medication and refer you to a specialist or hospital if needed. A referral from the general practitioner is almost always required if you want to go to a hospital or specialist. If your general practitioner refers you to a different healthcare provider, the other health professional will also report their findings to your GP. You can visit a midwife, a physiotherapist or a dentist without a referral. You can read more about the Dutch Health System on healthcare for internationals.


You can only visit a specialist at a hospital with a referral from your general practitioner. If you want to read more about what to do in case of a medical emergency, have a look at our page 'information about emergencies'.


Your general practitioner can prescribe you medication. You can get this medication from a pharmacy. If you are looking for non-prescription medication such as pain relievers or treatments for the cold or the flu, you can go to a pharmacy or a drugstore (drogist) such as Kruidvat or Etos.


Check out zorgkaartnederland.nl to find your nearest GP – looking for a practice close to your home is recommended, since you won’t feel up to travelling across town if you’re sick. And all Dutch medical professionals speak English.

Many health insurance companies either partially of fully cover visits to a psychologist, if they are on a referral basis from your GP. But that is not the case for all insurance providers, or it may not be included in the basic coverage – ask your insurance provider to be sure, and inquire about adding mental healthcare coverage to your package (for an additional monthly fee).

You can start by talking to your GP about it, and they may refer you to a specialist. Students can also seek help through their university: contact your study advisor and Student Service Centre (RUG) or Hanze Student Support (Hanze).

Yes, but it doesn’t have to be a Dutch insurance policy, as long as your insurance from your home country can provide an EHIC (European Health Insurance Card), and you are not earning minimum wage. Check zorgwijzer.nl to determine what your health insurance status is in the Netherlands.

Technically yes, as long as you have health insurance, but it depends on supply, and your GP may still decline to give it to you if they don’t think you are part of an at risk population. In that case, you could ask your GP about ordering the vaccine directly from a pharmacy – and paying for it out of pocket (around 25 to 40 euros).

If you are a British student and were living in the Netherlands before the end of the transition period (1 January 2020), then you fall under the withdrawal agreement, which means nothing will change and you should still have access to Dutch healthcare.

If you haven’t been diagnosed before, that’s the very first step. If you are a student at the University of Groningen, you can start at the Student Service Center: they have a psychology service available. They can give recommendations for external therapists too, including helping you find an English-speaking medical professional.

If you already have a diagnosis and a GP, you can most likely book a free mental health therapy intake session, and request an English-speaking provider.