Learning Dutch for dentists

To be permitted to work as a dentist in the Netherlands you are legally bound to be able to speak Dutch. To whom does this rule apply and how does it work?

As of 1 January 2017, all foreign dentists must demonstrate that they have a satisfactory command of the Dutch language (Dutch at B2+ level = sufficient proficiency and interactive medical Dutch). Any person providing care in the Netherlands must legally be able to communicate in a language that can be understood by the client – so foreign dentists working in the Netherlands must be able to speak Dutch.

The language requirement applies to:

  • dentists who have graduated in another European Union country or in Liechtenstein, Norway or Iceland;
  • dentists who have studied abroad with Dutch as their native language.

​If you have graduated outside of the European Union or a country mentioned above, you have to take the General Knowledge and Skills (AKV) test instead of the Dutch language test.

Admissible evidence of language proficiency:

  • a certificate of qualification from a Dutch-language vocational training programme
  • both a primary and secondary education diploma from Dutch-language education institutions
  • a Certificate of Professional Competence (valid for 2 years after issue)
  • a certified certificate awarded after successful completion of the Dutch language test 'Taaltoets Nederlands voor medici uit de EER'. You can prepare for and take this test with Taleninstituut Babel. It awards a certificate with which you can demonstrate that you have achieved the level required under the BIG Register Act: Dutch at B2+ level and sufficient proficiency in interactive medical Dutch.

Language courses

Providers of language courses (for healthcare workers) include the following.

  • Babel has a wide range of Dutch language courses to offer and courses for foreign dentists. They offer language courses and official recognised certifications (for your  BIG registration). Babel offers group courses as well as tailor-made ones. You can take a free online language test to assess your current Dutch skills.
  • Dutch in Dialogue (DiD) provides specific tailor-made Dutch language courses for foreign dentists, orthodontists, and oral surgeons. 
  • Dutch for professionals offers a specialised programme of Dutch language courses for medical personnel. This enables dentists to start studying Dutch or to quickly expand their existing knowledge of the language. 
  • Radboud In’to Languages in Nijmegen is the expertise centre for language and communication at Radboud University. In an Intensive Language Programme you will learn the language, understand the Dutch way of communicating and get insights into the Dutch healthcare system. 

Other institutes include:

The University of Groningen offers a free online introduction to Dutch several times a year: ‘Learn to speak, write and understand basic Dutch, with this free, three-week, introductory foreign language course’.

Lists of Dutch dentistry vocabulary

It can be quite a challenge to find a comprehensive list of translations of dentistry terminology. For this reason, BGB Dentistry and Dutch in Dialogue have both created their own list of translations of all the Dutch dental terms they could think of into Spanish and English. Feel free to download and use this list, and if you have any improvements or suggestions, please contact or