Healthcare and no documents of legal residence

Can I get health insurance for myself?

No, because you don't have a residence permit. Since 1998, people without valid documents of residency can no longer get healthcare insurance.

Do I have a right to medical care?

Yes, all people in the Netherlands have a right to medically required care. Every dentist, doctor and midwife in the Netherlands is required to provide everyone with any necessary medically required care. That also holds for people who have neither insurance nor money, and not only in case of an emergency or in life-threatening situations. No distinction is made here for people with HIV/AIDS who do not have a residence permit.

Does my child have a right to medical care?

In the Netherlands, every child has a right to medical care. Your child can receive all the vaccinations that other children get. Once the baby is born, your visits to the well-baby clinic and all vaccinations are free. For this, however, you will need to register the birth of your child at the Registry Office at City Hall.

Where should I go if I am sick?

The Dutch healthcare system is set up as follows: there is primary care to which everyone has access without a referral. This includes family doctors (general practitioner), dentists, midwives, pharmacists and the STI clinic of the municipal health department (GGD). You will need to call and make an appointment first, however. Keep in mind that not all doctors and dentists have room for new patients.

Which family doctor can help me?

In principle, everyone in the Netherlands has a family doctor (general practitioner) who they always go to. Due to a shortage of such doctors, their practices are often full. All family doctors are listed in the telephone book. Look for one close to where you are living. You can call to make an appointment. You can also ask your friends or family for the name of their doctor. You always have to call for an appointment first. If you do not speak Dutch or English, it will be easier to have someone who does speak Dutch or English call for you. Also during a visit to the doctor, it will be easier to bring someone who can translate for you if you don't understand Dutch well. A family doctor is able to spend up to ten minutes per patient. If you think you will need more time with the doctor, ask the doctor's assistant if that is possible.

Can I go directly to a hospital?

You cannot go directly to the hospital in the Netherlands. First you will need a referral from your family doctor. In case of medical emergencies, you can always go to the Emergency Ward of a hospital.

What kind of care can I get from a hospital?

You get outpatient polyclinical care - including routine check-ups, monitoring of your HIV treatment and prescriptions for your medications - at the outpatient policlinic. This can also include the treatment you receive when you are admitted to a hospital and any guidance you receive in connection with pregnancy and giving birth.

How does the requirement to carry identification affect me?

In principle, the personal details only will be checked. When you have a referral for a hospital, we advise you to first talk with the HIV/AIDS nurse. This nurse will be able to inform you how the hospital concerned deals with the obligation to carry ID.

How do I need to pay for the care?

Everyone in the Netherlands needs to pay for the medical care they receive. If you are not insured, you must pay whatever you are able to pay for the care you receive. The family doctor (general practitioner), dentist, midwife or hospital you visit will tell you how much you need to pay. If you are really unable to pay them or to pay for the medicines you need, special arrangements are possible. Explain your situation to them very clearly. The HIV/AIDS nurse can tell you about the possibilities. Here, too, it is handy to bring someone along who can help you with the language if necessary.

What if I need medicines?

In the Netherlands, many medicines are only available with a prescription. The doctor will give you the prescription, which you can then take to the pharmacy to pick up the medication. If you are unable to pay for the medication yourself, you must tell that to the doctor who will write the prescription for you. There are also medicines that you can buy without a prescription. These are sold at a pharmacy, but sometimes also at a chemist's or drugstore.

Registration of personal information?

None of your personal information, including your address, may be passed on to other people unless you have given permission for that.

Are medical professionals allowed to talk with others about someone's HIV status?

No. All doctors, midwives and nurses have an obligation to keep information this secret. They are forbidden to speak with others about someone's HIV status.

Is there HIV/AIDS-specific care?

There are hospitals throughout the Netherlands that are specialised in the treatment of people with HIV/AIDS. Your doctor (general practitioner) can refer you to an internist who is specialised in HIV/AIDS.

Where can I go for care if I'm pregnant?

All pregnant women in the Netherlands have the right to care during the pregnancy and until shortly after the birth of the child. The care includes guidance during your pregnancy starting from the moment you are 12-weeks pregnant. In the Netherlands, a midwife provides the necessary care. You can look for a midwife near where you live and make an appointment with him or her. During your visit to the midwife, you can explain that you have no insurance, and he or she will make arrangements and agreements together with you.

What if I am pregnant and I don't have documents of legal residency?

Then you have the right to reception/accommodation and you are insured against healthcare costs during the period starting four weeks before the birth of the child and continuing up to six weeks afterwards.

What if I am pregnant by a Dutch partner?

If your partner is Dutch, he (or she) can acknowledge the still unborn child as his (or hers) prior to its birth. The child will then receive the Dutch nationality upon its birth.

Is there HIV-specific care when I'm pregnant?

The transmission of HIV from the mother to the child is negligible thanks to a special programme of treatment. Also after delivery, the baby's health will be monitored. By the way, it is standard practice in the Netherlands to test all pregnant women for HIV.

Are there possibilities for getting a residence permit based on my HIV status?

In some cases, you could be eligible for a residence permit. To find out more about the possibilities for applying for a residence permit, you are advised to contact a lawyer specialised in the laws relating to aliens.

Will my personal details be passed on to the police?

Doctors nor hospitals will pass your details on to the police. They are not allowed to do so.

What other TIPS are there?

  • For every visit to a medical expert, it can be handy to take someone along who speaks and understands Dutch well, so that everything will be clear for you.
  • Prepare for your visit to the doctor while you are still at home. Think about what you want to say to the doctor and which questions you have. What exactly are your complaints?
  • Write down the doctor's advice on paper. That way, you won't forget it and you can follow the instructions precisely.
  • NEVER use someone else's insurance pass. That would result in incorrect information being entered into the system. This could be bad for your treatment and your health or for the health of the owner of the pass.

Do you still have questions?

For medical questions and support, you can always contact the Information line of the Servicepunt of Hiv Vereniging Nederland. The staff there are available by telephone on workdays from 2 pm until 10 pm via (020) 689-2577. HIV nurses/social workers who have questions concerning the access to healthcare or how to pay for it can contact the Lampion helpdesk: The staff there are available by telephone on workdays from 9 am until 1 pm via (030) 234-9855. With thanks Dokters van de Wereld.

end faq


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