Dutch language skills and English reading skills

Because the majority of patients speak Dutch and Dutch is the official language of care, care providers with a foreign diploma must have a sufficient command of the Dutch language. Testing Dutch language skills is an important part of the General Knowledge and Skills (AKV) test. English language skills are also part of the test. The required language level differs per profession.

As of 1 January 2024, the AKV test will be replaced by language certificates that will be submitted in advance. Until this date you can choose between taking the AKV test or submitting language certificates. The last AKV test places are now full.  This means that you must demonstrate your language proficiency by providing language certificates.

Due to the importance of good Dutch language skills, all letters and other communication you receive in this recognition procedure will be in Dutch.

Language levels

A language level has been set for each professional level:

  • Language level B1: For Senior Secondary Vocational Education (MBO) professions (such as nurses).
  • Language level B2: For Higher Professional Education (HBO) professions (such as physiotherapists, physician assistants, midwives and the registered dental hygienists).
  • Language level B2+: For university level (WO) professions (such as doctors, dentists, pharmacists, psychotherapists, health psychologists and clinical technologists).

Who can you contact for learning Dutch and/or obtaining a certificate?

In the Netherlands there are various providers where you can follow a training or course in Dutch (with or without a test) at the right level for obtaining a language certificate. A language certificate is only valid if it has been obtained with an exam. 

For a preparatory course, or to obtain a language certificate at language level B1 and B2, please contact:

  • The State Exam Dutch as a second language (Nt2). This is the national language exam for foreign-speaking adults who are learning Dutch as a second language. On the website Staatsexamensnt2.nl you will find an overview of providers per province who offer language training and NT2 exams.
  • You can also visit a university language centre. On the NUT website you will find all university language centers in the Netherlands.
  • You can contact all language institutes that can offer a Dutch course at the right language level and with the right course components (reading, writing, speaking and listening).

A certificate/proof of participation is not sufficient; the certificate must show that you have taken and passed a test on all components.

Providers B2+ level

Not all language centers offer a language course/language test at B2+ level. In any case, the institutions below do. This is a non-exhaustive list. You may also go to another institution for the course/test, if it offers the right components (reading, writing, speaking and listening) at the right level.

Examples of language level B2+ providers
Name of institution Name of the test
Taleninstituut Babel Nederlands voor medici uit de EER
ExcelLanguages Taaltoets Nederlands
NedLes Taaltoets Nederlands B2+
SUEZ Taaltoetsen Taaltoets Nederlands
Taalschool ‘En nu Nederlands’ Taaltoets B2+
Retora Taaltoets Nederlands
Georg Lamers Sprachenschule (Duitsland) Fremdsprachkurse Niederländisch für Ärzte
BGB Academy Examen Nederlands B2+

Youvvolution Development Resources Lda.

Taaltoets Nederlands
Dutch in Dialogue Nederlands B2+ voor medici
Care Force Language Academy Taaltoets B2+ voor medici uit de EER

From abroad

Do you live abroad and is your Dutch good? Then you can take a test 'Dutch as a foreign language' (CNaVT). This must be a test of the Nederlandse Taalunie (Dutch Language Union). The certificate states: College voor Toetsing en Examens (Board for Testing and Examinations) or Nederlandse Taalunie (the Dutch Language Union).

English reading skills

The levels below apply to English reading skills

  • Language level A2: For Senior Secondary Vocational Education (MBO) professions (such as nurses)
  • Language level B1: For Higher Professional Education (HBO) professions (such as physiotherapists, physician assistants and midwives)
  • Language level B2: For university level (WO) professions (such as doctors, dentists, pharmacists, psychotherapists and health psychologists), comparable with IELTS 5.5-6.0 and TOEFL 72-94.

You can also attend English language courses at the above-mentioned language institutes.

IELTS, TOEFL or Cambridge certificates are language certificates that meet the requirements and with which you are eligible for exemption from participation in the English component of the AKV test. In the AKV regulations (in Dutch) you will find more information about the certificates that qualify for exemption.

Requirements language certificates Dutch and English

When you choose to submit language certificates for Dutch and English (instead of taking the AKV test) when applying for a Certificate of Competence, the certificates must meet the following requirements:

  • The Dutch certificate is obtained with an exam in reading, writing, speaking and listening;
  • The English certificate is obtained with an exam in reading;
  • The certificates have been obtained at the language level required for the profession;
  • The certificates have been obtained with a pass mark;
  • The certificates were obtained no more than two years ago.
  • The Dutch language certificate has been obtained at a language institute established in the Netherlands. An exception to this is the test 'Dutch as a foreign language' (CNaVT).

A certificate of participation will not be accepted; the certificate must show that you have taken a test or exam and passed it.