The first step for getting a Dutch/European Permanent Residence or Dutch passport is passing a series of exams called the Inburgering Exams. I passed all the exams in 2023 without any previous knowledge of the Dutch language. Here are my recommendations for how to pass the Inburgering Exams in just a few months.
What are the Inburgering Exams?
The Inburgering exams are a series of exams to test your knowledge of the Dutch language and the Dutch Society. The exams are required for a Dutch Naturalization (passport) or European permanent residence through NL. There are 6 parts to the exams: Language (Listening, Reading, Writing, Speaking) and Dutch Society (Knowledge of the Dutch Culture KNM and Dutch Labor Market Orientation).
How are the Inburgering Exams Structured:
Each exam is a series of questions with a minimum number of correct answers to pass.
The exams below are ordered in difficulty from easiest to hardest, so book the listening and reading first:
- Listening – 10 stories, 25 questions – 18 correct to pass, 50 min, results in 5 days
- Reading – 10 texts, 25 questions – 18 correct to pass, 65 min, results in 5 days
- Writing – 4 prompts – 10 points each – 25 points to pass, points off for each mistake, results in 5-8 weeks.
- KNM – Dutch Society – 40-43 questions, 28 correct to pass, 45 min (the most challenging part is the time limit), results in 5 days
- Speaking – 12 questions – 9 need to be correct, 35 minutes, record your voice to a computer, 10 weeks for results.
- Dutch Labor Market Orientation – need to prove you can get a job here.
What is the language requirement for the Inburgering Exams:
In 2024, the language requirement is still A2, but there are yearly rumors of increasing the requirement to B1. A2 vs. B1 equates to months of additional studying, so I highly recommend that you take the exams in 2024. DutchNews has a full article on the risk of the rules changing from an immigration lawyer.
For the citizenship/permanent residence process, you can only apply after 5 years in the Netherlands. IMPORTANT: You can take the exams before you reach your 5-year mark, so take them in 2024 before the language requirement increases!
How to pass the Inburgering Exams:
Start with Babbel daily.
Daily practice of any language is so important to learn the basics of Dutch for the exam. Babbel subscriptions are very reasonably priced, and it is much better than Duolingo at teaching you the basics of a language. I often found that Duolingo was teaching impractical phrases that would not help you. Spend the 50 euros on Babbel for 3 months; it is absolutely worth it. We used Babbel every day for 3 months, and we were able to pass the test. It was a crucial part of learning enough Dutch to pass the exams. Use this Babbel link for their latest promotion as shown below.
Take an Inburgering Course
One thing that really helped us was taking a course specifically designed to pass the Inburgering Course. The combination of this course and Babbel daily allowed us to pass all the sections in just 4 months. The course will teach you the key things they will look for in each exam. It will also provide an overview of the Dutch Culture KMN exam, one of the hardest to pass.
Take the free practice exams.
Free practice exams are on the same website as the exam registration. The practice exams match the software that will be used in the testing facility, so it was also helpful to get to know the software through the practice exams.
It will take 3-6 months of consistent effort and studying to pass all the exams if you do not have any knowledge of the Dutch language to pass the exams at the A2 level.
How to register for the Inburgering Exams
Register for the exams at this official government website. The exams can be challenging to register for due to the limited availability. We took many of the exams in Zwolle since it was the only available place. Look for available spots in other cities. Start with the listening or the reading exams first, as they are the easiest to pass. We scheduled Listening and Reading in the first month and then the other 3 exams in the second month. It takes a while to get the results of Writing (5-8 weeks) and Speaking (10 weeks).
How much do the Inburgering Exams cost?
Each inburgering exam is 40-50 euros, with a total cost for all the exams of around 300 euros. If you fail any exam, you must pay again to retake the exam.
What are the next steps after passing?
After passing the exams, you will receive a diploma from the IND. The next step is booking your intake appointment at your local Gemeente. In Amsterdam, the waiting time for an intake appointment is over 8 months, so call well before your 5-year mark to get the intake appointment scheduled.