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Reimbursing costs of employees recruited abroad

If you recruit an employee abroad, you’re allowed to reimburse the extra costs of their temporary stay in the Netherlands. There are two ways you can do this. You can either reimburse actual expenditure or use the ‘30% ruling’. If you decide to reimburse actual expenditure, you’ll need to provide evidence (bills, invoices) of these costs.

30%-ruling

If you decide not to reimburse actual expenditure, you may be able to pay part of your employee’s salary tax-free under the 30% ruling. To be eligible for this, employees have to:

  • Be on your payroll;
  • Have specific expertise that is hard or impossible to find in the Dutch market;
  • Be recruited outside the Netherlands;
  • Have a valid decision from the tax authorities.

Specific expertise

Employees are seen as having specific expertise if their salary (excluding the tax-free allowance) in the Netherlands is more than €39,467. Or, if they are younger than 30 and have a master’s degree, their salary in the Netherlands is more than €30,001 (excluding the tax-free allowance).

Employees doing research at an accredited research institution or doctors training to be specialists can also apply for the 30% ruling. In these cases, their salary level is not relevant.

Recruited outside the Netherlands

To meet this condition, employees must have spent more than 16 of the previous 24 months (before the first working day) living more than 150 kilometres from the Dutch border (measured as the crow flies). This means they cannot previously have been living in Belgium, Luxembourg or parts of Germany, France or the United Kingdom.

Employees who have previously worked in the Netherlands

If employees were previously eligible for the 30% ruling and then went to live outside the Netherlands again, the ‘150 kilometres from the Dutch border’ rule does not apply if they meet all the following conditions:

  • The previous period of employment in the Netherlands started no more than 5 years earlier. Before 1 January 2021, the previous period of employment in the Netherlands had to have started no more than 8 years earlier;
  • When the previous work started, the employee had spent more than 16 of the previous 24 months living more than 150 kilometres from the Dutch border (measured as the crow flies);
  • During that previous work, the employee had a valid decision from the tax authorities giving permission to use the 30% ruling. Or they can show that they met the conditions applying at the time for the 30% ruling.

Employees with a PhD

Employees with a PhD (and entitled to use the title of Dr) are eligible for the 30% ruling if more than 16 of the 24 months immediately before they started their PhD research were spent living more than 150 kilometres from the Dutch border.

They are allowed to have lived in the Netherlands, or within 150 kilometres of the Dutch border, when doing their PhD research or between completing this research and starting work in the Netherlands.

Employees meeting all these conditions can apply for a decision on the 30% ruling here.

Once issued, a decision is valid for 5 years. In the past, decisions may have been issued with a validity of up to 8 years. Under transitional arrangements, however, the expiry date in that decision may no longer be correct. No new decision will be issued. You can see the correct expiry date in the following table:

Expiry date of decision on 30% ruling

Expiry date in decision:

Correct expiry date:

2019 or 2020 

Expiry date stated in your decision

2021, 2022 or 2023

31 December 2020

2024 or later

Expiry date stated in your decision less 3 years

Does changing your employer matter for the 30% ruling?

If your employee moves to work for a different employer within the same group, but continues to meet the conditions for the 30% ruling, the decision will remain valid. There is no need to apply for a new decision.

New employer outside the group?

Employees who move to work for an employer outside the group have to apply for permission for the decision to remain valid. Employees applying within 4 months of starting work for the new employer can use the 30% ruling from their first day of work.

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