How to integrate

It is good to learn the language and the written and unwritten rules when you move to the Netherlands. Doing so will help you find your way faster, meet people more easily, and feel more welcome. Integration can be difficult, but it is also interesting: a new world is opening up for you! The success of your integration depends partly on your initiative, but you are not alone. The Dutch government and people in your community can help. The Dutch government makes civic integration compulsory for immigrants. The following text explains the civic integration requirement and where you can ask for help or information.

Civic integration requirement

The civic integration requirement for immigrants aged between 18 and 67 starts as soon as they receive a residence permit. The AZC often offers language classes, but the integration course usually starts when you start living in the municipality. DUO will send you a letter stating your integration period. You must pass the integration exam before the end of the term. DUO can fine you if you fail to finish on time without a good reason. Sometimes, you may need extra time or have trouble completing the civic integration process. In that case, you can ask DUO for an extension of the term or waiver. Passing the civic integration exam is also important if you want to apply for a permanent residence permit or a Dutch passport.

There are two different civic integration systems with different rules: the 2013 civic integration system and the 2021 civic integration system. To know which rules apply to you, read the IND letter (Decision) informing you that you are being granted a residence permit. If the IND letter is dated 1 January 2022 or later, the 2021 civic integration rules apply. If the IND letter is dated before 1 January 2022, the 2013 civic integration rules apply. DUO will send you a letter about your civic integration requirement, explaining which system and rules apply to you. Your social worker can also help you with this.

2013 civic integration system

If these rules apply to you, you must choose your school and integration course. You can find schools in your area on the website, run by Blik op Werk. Blik op Werk measures the quality of civic integration schools. You can take out a loan from DUO to pay for a Blik op Werk-certified civic integration course and the exams. You will not have to repay the loan to DUO if you have an asylum residence permit and complete your civic integration within the civic integration period (usually three years). You are considered to be a citizen once you have signed the participation statement (PVT) and passed the civic integration examination (level A2) or the State Examination NT2 (level B1 or B2). These exams consist of the components Dutch language (reading, writing, speaking and listening), Kennis van de Nederlandse Maatschappij (KNM) and Oriëntatie op de Nederlandse Arbeidsmarkt (ONA). You can read more about the 2013 integration system on the DUO website, Or ask your social worker for information.

2021 civic integration system

If these rules apply to you, the municipal authority will work with you to choose the right civic integration course for you. The municipal authority will pay for the civic integration course if you have an asylum residence permit. You will have an intake with the municipal authority to get to know you better. You will also be given a test to see how quickly you can learn. The municipal authority will use this information to find out which integration route is best for you. There are three routes: 1. The B1-route, 2. The onderwijsroute and 3. The Z-route. The results of the intake and agreements are written down in a participation and integration plan (PIP). If you are unsure about the agreements in the PIP, discuss the matter with your social worker. You are considered to be integrated once you have signed the participation statement (PVT) and have completed the civic integration programme. In addition to the Dutch language, you will also be taught Knowledge of Dutch Society (KNM) and the Labour Market and Participation Module (MAP). You can read more about the 2021 integration system on the DUO website, or ask your contact at the municipal authority or social worker for information.

Practising Dutch

It is important to get plenty of practice with your Dutch. VluchtelingenWerk or another organisation may be able to provide a language coach. You may have neighbours or friends you can practice Dutch with regularly, or you can volunteer to gain work experience and learn the language at the same time. There are also many options to practise Dutch on your own, such as:


You can borrow Dutch books at the library and practise using the Dutch language on the computer. The library also hosts meetings and other activities to help with your integration. The library website offers language and computer courses and exercises, such as Diglin+

This website offers many online language lessons at various levels, such as, het Leesplankje and Lees en schrijf! Search by ‘Ik wil oefenen met’ → Taal.

NT2 Language Menu

This website allows you to practice Dutch from level A1.

Future learn

The University of Groningen offers online Dutch lessons for people with higher education several times a year through Future Learn.

Net in Nederland

The website contains videos with Dutch, English or Arabic subtitles. You can watch the news and other TV programmes and movies on many different subjects.


VluchtelingenWerk's role

If you have any questions about your civic integration, please ask your VluchtelingenWerk contact person. We can help you with information on the civic integration requirement and help you think about ways of learning Dutch.

More information


On this website, you will find information about how to use media safely and wisely. - DUO

On this website, you will find information about your integration exams and your DUO loan.