Language requirement when receiving benefits

Are you receiving welfare benefits? The government requires that you be able to understand, read, speak and write Dutch reasonably well. Finding work is easier if you have a sufficient command of Dutch.

You are considered to have a reasonable command of Dutch if you have had a Dutch education. For example:

  • primary or secondary school
  • practical training
  • adult education
  • vocational education (MBO), professional higher education (HBO) or research-oriented education (WO)
  • private education abroad
  • civic integration course

Proof of language level

The municipality will ask you to declare whether you have attended a Dutch school or earned an integration diploma. If so, this is proof that you have reasonable command of Dutch and meet the language requirement. The municipality may verify this declaration. You will need to complete the declaration when you have an appointment at the municipality to discuss your benefits.

Language test

Have you had little or no Dutch education? The municipality could ask you to take a language test. This test is free of charge.

Improving your Dutch

Do you have an insufficient command of the language? Then you will need to work to improve your Dutch, for example by taking a language course or by studying on your own. You can discuss the options with a municipal staff member.

Consequence for your benefits

Would you rather not improve your Dutch? Or you are not making enough of an effort? This could have consequences for your benefits. Read more about this on the page Begin link: regels en plichten bij een bijstandsuitkering, end link. (in Dutch).

Have you been unsuccessful at improving your Dutch despite fulfilling your obligations? Then your welfare benefits will not be adversely affected.

Participation Act

The language requirement is part of the Participation Act. Are you applying for benefits on or after 1 January 2016? Then you will be subject to the language requirement. Were you receiving benefits in 2015? Then the language requirement will take effect as of 1 July 2016.


Do you have questions? Then you can contact the Begin link: SZW customer service, end link. .

The PDFs below contain information about the language requirement in French, Arabic and Turkish.

Exigence linguistique en cas d’assistance sociale

(PDF, 66.2 KB)

الاشتراطات اللغوية

(PDF, 146.4 KB)

Yardım almak için dil gereklilikleri

(PDF, 65.6 KB)


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