Hiring an expat employee – how long does it really take?

In today’s global business world, it’s common for people to move and work in different countries. How complex is hiring an expat really?

Global mobility is sizzling, and the battle for top-notch talent is heating up! If a company not only cheers on but also fuels its employees to rock their roles from any spot on the planet, Well, they’ve just confidently shown they’re ahead of their competition.

This brings up an interesting question: how quickly can someone who just moved to a new country start working at their new job? It’s a very common question, and the lack of clarity can even deter companies from hiring expats. . When I worked in People Operations the Talent & Acquisition team asked this question every week. They needed to give the right time estimate to both hiring managers  and job applicants. 

Answering the question of when an expat employee is ready to start isn’t straightforward -. This complexity becomes clear when you consider the various factors that influence the timeline. Think of it as a well-coordinated event that includes rules and logistics.

When considering this situation, it’s crucial to remember whether the company supports the expat’s visa. If the company is linked with IND, the visa process might be as short as two weeks, rather than the typical three months. However, it’s not a simple journey. The expat’s home country and having an address in the Netherlands also influence the time it takes.

Another important factor to think about is whether the person is already in the Netherlands. There are two distinct scenarios to consider. The first one involves an expat who’s already here; in this instance, transferring the visa sponsorship could be the primary concern (they likely have their bank account and other necessities settled). The second scenario pertains to an employee who is currently abroad; they might need an MVV, which can lengthen the process time. For them, everything must be organized upon their arrival.

Let’s consider a usual scenario where the company isn’t a registered sponsor and doesn’t help in finding a suitable home for the expat. From the HR viewpoint, this can benefit both sides, but HR still has tasks to fulfill. They need important information like the expat’s BSN (citizen service number) and registration in the Basic Registration of Persons (BRP) of the municipality. Plus, a Dutch address is needed. 

Even though what was mentioned earlier isn’t directly about the “right to work” (which is about being allowed to work legally), it’s about having the necessary information. Without this information, someone might not be able to be added to payroll-systems, so they can’t get paid. Sometimes the salary can be paid later, but that’s not ideal. While doing this, also think about the internal policies within the company that handles payments. Some payroll providers, especially those operating worldwide, might decline to add someone to the payment list if this information isn’t complete .

Assuming the expat has a place to live secured , the following deadlines matter:

  1. On arrival to the Netherlands, It usually takes about four weeks to complete the registration process with the municipality. 
  2. Following registration in the BRP (municipal registry), the BSN (citizen service number) will be generated automatically. This process generally takes around 4 weeks, and the duration depends on the staffing level at the city hall in that particular city.
  3. On average, it usually takes about a week to open a Dutch bank account, and this time frame varies based on the country you’re from. Banks might need more time when dealing with countries like the United States due to factors like tax treaties and other considerations.

So, it usually takes about a month for your expat to start working. This doesn’t count the time it takes to process the visa, which is usually about 90 days on average, unless your company is an approved sponsor by IND.

As the world continues to see movement of talent across borders, remember the intricacies of expat onboarding. It’s not a race, nor is it a leisurely stroll. It’s a dance that requires coordination, patience, and good timing. And just like any beautiful dance, when done with finesse, it leaves a lasting impact.

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