Education & childcare

Utrecht Region offers an extensive range of learning opportunities, from primary and secondary schools to universities, summer schools and language courses. In addition, there are various international schools in the Netherlands to suit your needs. If you have children, or plan to have any, there are also plenty of childcare options in Utrecht Region, including day care and pre-school. This section provides information on the national education system and the various educational options available in Utrecht Region, as well as the different childcare options and financial support in the form of child allowances.


The Dutch education system is unique. For some people, it can seem quite confusing, so let us help you understand. Children in the Netherlands are required to go to school until they turn 18 or graduate with a degree. Until the age of five, infants can attend a variety of non-compulsory day care educational facilities, such as a playgroup, preschool or kindergarten. At the age of four, children attend primary school for eight years. They then continue to one of three types of secondary education – vmbo, havo or vwo – depending on their level. After that, students advance to secondary vocational education (mbo), higher professional education (hbo) or university (wo). You can find more information below on the different forms of education and the options available in Utrecht Region.

To fully understand the Dutch education system, we recommend this video by Nuffic which explains everything, from primary school to higher education and academic research. For more information, visit the Nuffic website.


The options

Day care
Dutch day care centres (kinderdagverblijf) cater for children between the ages of six weeks and four years. Qualified childcare professionals take care of the children, feed them and ensure they have ample opportunities for napping. Most day care centres are open from 8.00 am to 5.30 pm. As waiting lists for places in day care are long, we recommend registering with multiple day care centres.

All official day care facilities in Utrecht Region can be found in the Landelijk Register Kinderopvang en Peuterspeelzalen (website is in Dutch).

Toddlers between the ages of two and four years can attend pre-school (peuterspeelzaal), non-compulsory education that prepares children for primary school. Children start learning skills such as language, counting, sports and music.

After school care
Many children attend after school care, especially on Wednesday afternoons when Dutch schools finish early. After school care is often offered in collaboration with primary schools and/or day care centres.

Child allowances

Certain child allowances are available from the government.

  • Children's allowance (kinderbijslag)
    This allowance helps cover initial costs when raising children. The amount depends on your situation, such as how many children you have, their ages, whether they live at home, etc.
  • Child benefit (kindgebonden budget)
    Child benefit is in addition to the children’s allowance. This benefit, for children up to the age of 18, helps cover costs for clothing, food, school expenses etc. Conditions apply.
  • Childcare benefit (kinderopvangtoeslag)
    Childcare costs may be subsidised by the Dutch tax authorities when both parents are working. This benefit (kinderopvangtoeslag) can be applied for via the Tax and Customs Administration. Conditions apply.

Day care options in Utrecht Region

Other settling-in topics