Debt advice in the Netherlands is legally a task for the local municipalities. The local council must establish a plan for integral debt help for the citizens of the municipality.
This does not mean that the local municipality has to offer debt help or debt advice itself. The larger cities have own branches for debt help, but smaller communities hire this from specialized institutes. Traditionally, this is the role for Kredietbanken. These Kredietbanken can also offer credit. In this way, they can take over all the debts and bundle them into one new credit.
Advantage for the debtor is that they have to deal with only one creditor instead of the multiple creditors.
In the Netherlands, there is also the possibility for debt relief. If a debtor (natural person) does his utmost, but still cannot repay all his debts within 36 months, he can apply for a legal debt relief. This is regulated by law (Wet Schuldsanering Natuurlijke Personen). The court can decide what amount is non-seizable. This amount is partly prescribed by law, but can be increased by court for specific circumstances (for example medical costs, child care). The debtor that applies for the debt relief may not make new debts, has to act bona fide and gets a curator to check that.
Before one gets admission to the debt relief, an amicable attempt to solve the problems should be made. The amicable attempt gives the same repayment capacity and relief after 36 months, but without the court interference.
This is done via the local municipality. If the amicable attempt fails (for example when one creditor refuses to accept the offer), the municipality can make a declaration for admission to the court procedure.
At the moment (early 2023), one is working to change the law and to reduce the term of the debt relief from 36 months to 18 months.
Below are a number of organisations, where people in different situations can get help and information:
- You can contact the members of the NVVK for debt advice, voluntary debt relief
- A first point of reference could also be the legal and social advisors – Website
- For debt prevention and budgetting tools, refer to, you can contact NIBUD.
- Last but not least, if you already have a running debt arrangement via the courts, you can find information here.