What is the ‘Inburgering’ exam? (het inburgeringsexamen)

So you decided to move to the Netherlands and the words Inburgering and Inburgeringsexamen keep popping up. In this post I will tell you everything you need to know about this exam.

You want to obtain a Dutch resident permit or Dutch citizenship?

If you’re from a country outside the EU and you want to move to the Netherlands, you need a Dutch residence permit. To get this, you are expected to take a civic integration exam, het Inburgeringsexamen. That also goes for those who apply for Dutch citizenship (getting a Dutch passport).

The purpose of this exam is to learn the Dutch language as well as other aspects of Dutch culture and society. The exams are organized by the Dienst Uitvoering Onderwijs or DUO.  Importantly, the rules were changed in 2015. If you had an integration requirement before 1 January 2015, old rules apply. So check out what your situation requires.

The inburgeringsexam

So what does this exam comprise? DUO tests your language on four abilities: writing, speaking, listening, and reading. If you take the Inburgeringsexamen you will be tested on all sections at A2 level, unless you are a migrant who has been here for longer. In that case you are permitted to take the writing and reading competence sections at A1 level. 

Besides these language abilities tests, there are also the Knowledge of Dutch Society exam (“Kennis Nederlandse Maatschappij”, KNM) and the Orientation on the Dutch Labour Market exam (“Oriëntatie op de Nederlandse Arbeidsmarkt”, ONA). But let’s first take a look at the required language levels.

Language level

What do the four competences at level A2 mean? A2 is a classification within CEFR – the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages. This framework is used to indicate to what extent you have mastered the language. The A2 level is also called “way stage” or “elementary”.


If you can write at an A2 level you can write short, simple notes and messages relating to matters in areas of immediate need.


Listening at A2 level means that you can grasp the main point in short, clear, simple messages and statements.


You are able to say a series of phrases and sentences to describe in simple terms your family and other people, living conditions, your educational background and your present or most recent job.


And finally reading at A2 means that you can read very short, simple texts. You can find specific, predictable information in simple everyday material such as advertisements, prospectuses, menus and timetables

Now we’ve talked about your required language skills, let’s take a look at the two other sections of the exam.

The Knowledge of Dutch Society exam                                                                              

The Kennis Nederlandse Maatschappij examen (Knowledge of Dutch Society exam), is a multiple choice test on the computer about how people in the Netherlands interact with each other and what the rules are in the Netherlands. An example of a question is:

Evert is zijn schuur aan het opruimen. Hij komt een kapotte accu tegen uit zijn vorige auto. Wat doet hij? (Evert is cleaning his shed. He comes across a broken battery from his previous car. What should he do?)

The Orientation on the Dutch Labour Market exam                                                        

The Oriëntatie Nederlandse Arbeidsmarkt (Orientation on the Dutch Labour Market exam) is a test about working and looking for work in the Netherlands. You have to do assignments at home, using cards. These cards are called ‘results cards’. Once the cards are correctly completed, you have an interview with DUO lasting 40 minutes. During this interview you will need to speak in Dutch about the results cards.

Hopefully you will pass the Inburgeringsexamen and this will be your first step on your way to becoming a Dutch resident or citizen.

More information & my recommendations

You can find more information on the official government-website www.inburgeren.nl.

Unfortunately I cannot help you with the Society/Labour part of the exam. But concerning language acquisition…

I can help you to reach level A2!

My online courses #dutchgrammar-1 and #dutchgrammar-2 together will help you to reach A2, with regard to reading and writing. You will learn all the grammar and vocabulary that is required at this level.

For a better result, in addition, you can do my course ‘1000 most common words in Dutch’ (to learn more basic words) and my course ‘Heb je zin?’ (to practise listening skills and applying grammar in daily sentences).

As well as that, I would strongly recommend finding someone to practise with and to try to speak Dutch in daily life wherever possible!

In the upcoming 5 articles I will tell you in more depth about how to prepare for the ‘inburgerging exam’.

Bart de Pau
online Dutch teacher & founder of the Dutch Summer School & Dutch Winter School