Amsterdam Factsheet

 


Introduction to Amsterdam


With a population of around 750,000, Amsterdam is a city whose reputation and profile belies its size – a city planned on a very human, accessible, scale, where the pedestrian pace coexists harmoniously alongside an established, and expanding, commercial and economic centre. It stands fourth in line for Europe’s tourism crown, behind London, Paris and Rome.


Although its two official languages are Frisian and Dutch, Amsterdam is one of the very few capitals of continental Europe which has English as the principal business language. As such, it is a popular choice for lawyers without foreign language skills who nevertheless wish to experience European life.


Facts/Figures:


• 600,000 Bicycles

• 600,000 Bulbflowers

• 165 Canals

• 1281 Bridges

• 6 Windmills

• 232 City trams

• 51 Museums

• 141 Art Galleries

• 1402 Bars & Cafes

• 755 Restaurants



The Legal Market


Amsterdam is the financial centre of the Netherlands. It is located close to Rotterdam, the largest port in Europe and a key commercial centre, and also to The Hague, which acts as the administrative centre, home to the government, the major regulatory bodies and the Supreme Court.


The legal market in Amsterdam is a small one; a small number of UK Magic Circle and top-tier city firms sit alongside some pre-eminent local law firms (operating either independently or in association with UK city practices). However, the lion’s share of international recruitment takes place by the large UK players – local firms often restrict their search to the local (Dutch qualified) market.


The majority of opportunities arise in banking and finance (the market of which is dominated by a very small number of players), and to a lesser extent, capital markets. Given the smaller size of teams compared with London, junior lawyers will be expected to get involved at a hands-on level with complex transactions, at a far earlier stage than would otherwise be the case.



Money Matters


Salaries in Amsterdam are typically lower than for equivalent roles in London. However, the cost of living is markedly lower than in London, and as a result lawyers can expect a correspondingly higher quality of life. The commute to work, for example, usually takes the form of a short walk or bicycle ride; eating and drinking at one of the myriad of bars, cafes and restaurants also offers value for money not often found in London.


Rental housing is, depending on area, not dissimilar to rates charged in London. However, tax relief is offered on the interest element of a mortgage, which can amount to a significant saving each year, and getting on the property ladder is increasingly popular as a result.


It is now possible to request this tax relief to be paid directly into your bank account on a monthly basis, as opposed to having to wait until the end of the tax year to claim the relief.


The main rates applicable for taxable income in 2007/2008 are:

Taxable income

Tax on this income

€0 to €17,319

33.65% (includes social security and tax)

€17,320 to €31,122

41.40% (includes social security and tax)

€31,123 to €53,064

42% (tax only, social security paid separately)

on surplus

52% (tax only, social security paid separately)


In addition, a special dispensation is available to non-resident, or partial non-resident, taxpayers conferring eligibility for a ’30 percent ruling’. This allows the employer to grant a tax-free lump sum allowance for the extra costs of the employee’s stay in the Netherlands. It amounts to a maximum of 30 percent of the sum of the wages and the allowance. The


30 percent ruling means that the employee receives up to 30 percent of their wages tax-free, which effectively reduces the salary tax. In order to qualify, a specific request must be made to the tax authorities which proves that the employee is bringing skills and knowledge which are scarce in the Netherlands and therefore must be recruited from abroad.



Red Tape


As a national of an EU/EER member state you only need your passport to enter the Netherlands and do not require a residence document to stay. However, if you wish in the future to apply for permanent residence (based on time accrued in the Netherlands) or open a bank account, or take out a mortgage, having a residence permit will drastically simplify this procedure.


Many expats must first obtain a machtiging tot voorlopig verblijf (MVV), or authorisation visa for temporary stay while in their country of origin. EU/EER nationals and citizens of the US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Japan,


Israel, Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Iceland, Surinam and Monaco are exempt from this regulation.


All other non-EU/EER nationals must apply to a Dutch embassy or consulate in their country for a MVV before they enter the Netherlands, or may be refused entry. If you qualify as a highly skilled migrant there is an accelerated procedure.



After Work


You will never be bored in Amsterdam – no other city in the world has as many places of interest per square meter. Whether you want to visit one of the world-renowned museums, relax in café or wander along the idyllic canals, there is something for everyone.


As soon as the weather allows, terraces appear in Amsterdam. Most of the cafés along the canals have their terraces next to the water. You can enjoy a drink and a bite to eat whilst watching the boats go by. An abundance of restaurants will ensure your culinary tastes at satisfied. Of course you should also indulge in the Dutch specialities such as a Hollandse stamppot (Dutch Hotchpotch) or a pancake.


Apart from the obvious cycling, there are many other sports and activities to indulge in, from sailing, windsurfing, ice-skating and golf, Amsterdam really does have it all.



For more information please contact you advising consultant at Garfield Robbins International on +44 (0)845 671 0199.


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