Are you moving to the Netherlands? Welcome! There are many official issues you need to deal with before you are able to live here, but don’t worry. We’ll talk you through the seven necessary steps you need to complete so you’ll be able to get around the country and start building your life here.

1. Residence permit, work permit or visa

If you wish to work and live in the Netherlands for more than 90 days, you’ll need to get a residence permit depending on your nationality. You then need to register at your local municipality in the Netherlands. It’s best to do this as soon as possible, so you can apply for other necessary documents like a BSN and DigiD.

Tip! Some nationalities can apply for a residence permit directly at the Immigration Naturalization Service after their arrival in the Netherlands. Other nationalities will need to apply for a permit at the Dutch embassy or consulate in their country of residence before they travel to the Netherlands.

2. Request a citizen service number (BSN)

One of the first things you need when you wish to live in the Netherlands: a citizen service number, also called BSN. A BSN is unique for every citizen in the Netherlands and will make it possible to interact with the Dutch government. You will be able to arrange many matters online, like opening a bank account, announcing your address and deducting your taxes for example. To get a BSN, you can visit the municipality where you are staying (this can also be a hotel if you’ve just arrived).

You can then register as a resident. Please take note that you need to register within five days after your arrival in the Netherlands. The municipality applies for the BSN, which will arrive within 10 working days. As soon as you have a permanent residence address, you can inform the municipality of this new address. Often you will give the employer’s address if you do not have a home address yet.

Tip! Are you staying in a hotel in Amsterdam? If you do not have an address yet but would like to apply for a BSN, please go to the municipality of Amsterdam city counter Centre located on the Amstel 1. Here you can indicate that you want to settle in Amsterdam but that you do not yet have a home address. They can still register you and you will also receive a BSN number. Make sure to take your passport with you.

3. Get a DigiD account

If you live in the Netherlands, you’ll also need to apply for a DigiD (Digital Identification). DigiD is a form of online ID that allows you to access the digital portal of the Dutch government, but also other official organizations like:

  • The Belastingdienst (tax services)
  • Municipalities and provinces
  • The police
  • Healthcare providers
  • Insurance companies
  • And many more

You can view it as an online version of your passport. This DigiD account is connected to your BSN number and will make it possible to do your administration online. Having this account will make it easier to access all official websites of health insurance companies, the RDW for a driver’s license or even your mortgage.

Tip! Make sure you have your BSN number before applying for a DigiD account. The BSN number will be connected to your DigiD. And make sure you keep your DigiD safe (do not share this with anyone, only use it on the official DigiD website or app).

4. Apply for a bank account

If you are settling down in the Netherlands, you will need to open a Dutch bank account. You will receive your salary on this account, as well as pay your rent or mortgage from this account. Besides the online account you will also receive a debit card to use in the stores and supermarkets. Most banks also have an online payment app and mobile banking, which you can use to pay small amounts in a store or take care of payments while on the road.

As soon as you have a BSN, you can open a bank account at a Dutch bank. There are a few different large banks in the Netherlands, but we advise to contact ABN AMRO since they are one of the few banks that have detailed information about their services in English.

Tip! If you do not have a BSN number yet, you can still contact ABN AMRO. If you call ABN AMRO via telephone number 020-3434422 you can make an appointment with an English-speaking employee. Clearly state that you do not have a BSN number yet, and they will tell you which documents you will need to take with you to open a bank account. It is best to reach them between 16:00 and 17:30.

5. Apply for Dutch health insurance

If you are going to live and work in the Netherlands, you are obliged to take out a health insurance policy. This insurance is meant to cover the cost of medical care. You need to apply for a health insurance within four months after receiving your residence permit, even if you already have an existing health insurance from your own country. You can compare Dutch health insurances and their prices on the website of Zorgwijzer or Independer.

Tip! Many health insurers will require you to have a BSN number. If you do not have a BSN number yet, you can take out a health insurance at ONVZ. As soon as your BSN number is available, it can be converted into a basic insurance.

6. Get a personal public transport card

To get around by public transport, you need to apply for a OV-chipcard. This is the public transport card in the Netherlands and can be used to travel by train, metro, bus, and tram. (also, you can use the card for the OV-bike to get from a station to your destination in the city center for example). You can apply for an OV-chipcard if you have a Dutch bank account number.

Tip! If you do not have Dutch bank account number yet, you can buy an anonymous public transport card online. You can then retrieve your credit at an AVM in the Netherlands. You can retrieve the credit at most Albert Heijn supermarkets, metro stations of train stations, including Schiphol Airport.

Tip! If you’d rather use a car in the Netherlands, you can use your foreign driving license for a certain period of time. The exact length of validity of your license varies greatly depending on the country of issue (between a few months to up to 15 years), so check the validity at your municipality.

7. Buy a Dutch phone number

With a foreign passport and a proof of a Dutch bank account number you can get a contract for your mobile phone. Keep in mind that it might not be possible to buy a mobile phone contract online because you do not have all the documents you need yet. A prepaid card could be a temporary solution. Visit a shop of one of the providers to buy a contract.

Tip! If you wish to get a fixed phone line in the Netherlands, it can be cheaper to get an all-in-one package with a fixed phone line, internet and digital TV. If you already have internet and digital tv, it is often already in your package.

Moving to the Netherlands as an expat? Don’t forget:

The tips in this article are of course essential, but certainly not a complete list. There are many more issues that might need to be addressed, like a driver’s license or a work permit. And of course a rental home or perhaps even a mortgage. If you need help or advice regarding buying a home or getting a mortgage, please contact us and one of our employees will contact you as soon as possible.

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