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30%ruling: is the 150km strictly required?


I graduated from RWTH Aachen, Germany in May 2015 with a master degree. I started to work as an engineer for a Dutch company (institute) in February 2016. 

The thing is, I registered at an address at Aachen city hall in January 2013. But I de-registered from my previous German address very late in February 2016 after I got my Dutch ID. Actually, I was living at the German address from January 2013 to October 2015. During thesw months, I traveled to other cities and countries a lot. Will that be deducted from the required months of outside 150km to border rule?

Is there any possibility that you could help me to find a way to get this 30% ruling under my case?

Thank you for your time. Have a nice day.


The 150 km is indeed strict. If you lived during at least 16 out of the last 24 months before starting the job in the Netherlands in a city less than 150 km from Dutch border then you don’t qualify for the 30% ruling. 

Relevant is where your principle residence was. Travel to other countries is not taken into consideration, unless you registered in the other country and really lived there. The tax authorities will ask you where you lived before you came to the Netherlands and require proof of it.

The European court of Justice and Dutch supreme court ruled that the 150 km requirement is legal and allowed and doesn’t lead to discrimination of EU residents.

So unless you can proof that you lived somewhere else then in Aachen, the 30% ruling is officially not applicable to you (unless the tax authorities would not check where you lived or oversee it).

Additional questions:

Thanks a lot for your reply. But I still have a couple of questions.

  1. I am not coming from any EU country. I mean, my nationality is Chinese. So, I just came to the Netherlands after my master (2 years) in Germany. Will that be some other case like you mentioned about?

  2. What do you mean with proof of residence? I registered at Aachen city hall for 2.5 years. But I moved out from my previous Aachen address 5 months earlier than I de-registered from Aachen city hall. I have a proof for this situation. After I moved out from my previous Aachen address, I have temporally lived in an other City (which is almost 150 km away from Netherlands border) for 5 months. However, I did`t registered at that city hall. I have no proof for this situation.

  3. During the 2.5 years I was registered at Aachen city hall, I went back to my own country (where I have a permanent address) for 3 months. Will these months be deducted? Proof in the passport

  4. What do you mean "unless the tax authorities would not check where you lived or oversee it"? Is that to say, even if you think my case is not qualified for this 30% ruling, I can still apply for that? Whether I get it depends on how lucky I am? Could you still have a way to help me to get this 30% ruling?

Thank you for you time and patience.



  1. No, the Dutch tax authorities only look at the 24 months prior to your employment in the Netherlands. They don’t look at the period before that. So the fact that you came from China before you studied in Germany doesn’t make a difference.

  2. Proof of residence is for example a rental agreement or proof of registration at the foreign city hall. But this is only relevant if you lived more than 150 km from Dutch border.

  3. If you lived less than 150 km from Dutch border during at least 16 out of the last 24 months before starting to work in NL then you don’t qualify. So if it is less than 16 months you make a chance. The 3 months may be deducted from the 24 months, but then it is still too much.

  4. The tax authorities will check whether you qualify. In the application must be stated where you lived before you started working in the Netherlands. Of course the application must be filed honestly. Looking at the info you provided you don’t seem to qualify due to the 150 km requirement.  

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Comments (3)
Comment by G.S. Dong on Thu, Jun 30th, 2016 at 2:17 PM
What is the mean of "So if it is less than 16 months you make a chance"? If I lived in Belgium less than 16 months, I can still meet the 30% ruling of distance criteria, correct? I saw some other statement that says It was not allowed to live close to Dutch border more than 8 months. So now I am confused which one is correct ? not more than 8 month? or not more than 16 months? Thanks a lot!
Comment by Z. L on Fri, Jul 8th, 2016 at 12:11 AM
I have one question here. As in this dialogue this Chinese student who graduated from aachen cannot apply for the ruling because of the 150km. But what is the difference between lets say another Chinese student who graduated from Frankfurt which is 200km away but also in Germany? How is this 150km set? Why not 149km or 100km? Is this law really right or does it break the justice because these two students have the same situation after they come to NL for work as they won‘t have any connection with neither aachen or frankfurt?
Comment by Arjan Enneman on Tue, Aug 9th, 2016 at 4:03 PM
The distance of 150 km is just determined based on the assumption that if the distance is more than 150 km people tend to move to the Netherlands instead of travel between home and work every day. So it is just a chosen amount. They could also have chosen 200 km or 100 km. But it became 150 km. You can argue that this is not fair nor that it should not be related to the distance from home to Dutch border but from home to the work address in the Netherland. The Dutch government just made it 150 km from Dutch border. This has been accepted by the Supreme Court and also by the European Court of Justice. Argument is that there is always a certain roughness in tax figures.
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