I have just arrived in the Netherlands. What are the formalities I need to complete?
Dutch law stipulates that all new residents need to register within five days if they will reside in the Netherlands longer than four months. You must register in your city or town of residence (and change this registration if you move to another city or town). The following documents are usually required when registering at the municipality:
- Passport (or ID card for EU citizens)
- Proof of occupancy
The following documents are not required in order to register. Both documents can be presented at a later date:
- A recently-issued original birth certificate
- If you are married or your spouse is accompanying you, a recently-issued original marriage certificate
You can find more information about registration procedures for each case in the official website of The Hague. Please bear in mind that other municipalities may state different requirements.
Once registered with the municipality, you will get a burgerservicenummer – BSN (citizen service number). If you are planning to reside in the Netherlands less than four months, you will still need to register in order to get a BSN. Please note that the conditions and procedure to register may vary depending on your individual situation.
What is a BSN? Am I required to get one?
The burgerservicenummer – BSN (citizen service number) is a unique personal number issued to everyone registered with the basisregistratie personen – BRP (personal records database) of the municipality. Meaning, that if you are coming to stay in the Netherlands for more than four months you do require a BSN. It is required for starting a job in the Netherlands, enrolling in an educational programme, opening a bank account, using the health care system, applying for benefits and paying taxes, to name a few examples.
You need to register at the gemeente (municipality) where you are living. You can make an appointment by calling the town hall or sending an email. Please note that it is advised to register as soon as you arrive to the Netherlands. Depending on the municipality the waiting time may be long but during your appointment you will get your BSN right away.
Do I need to legalise or translate my documents to register?
Documents from certain countries must be legalised or have an Apostille. An Apostille Certificate is an official certificate issued to documents so they will be recognised in member states without further legalisation. It must be done in the country where the documents were issued and cannot be done in the Netherlands. Find further information on: government.nl/topics/legalising-documents.
Translation of documents
Documents written in Dutch, English, German or French are acceptable for legalisation. If the documents are in any other languages they must be translated. After the translation the original document and the translation needs to be legalised or issued with an Apostille.
What is DigiD?
DigiD (Digital Identification) is a form of online ID that allows you to do your government-related administration online in the Netherlands. This includes doing your taxes, applying for a government benefit, checking your Dutch pension or health insurance, and any other actions. The DigiD consists of a username and password that are linked to your burgerservicenummer – BSN (citizen service number). Most information about the DigiD can be found at: www.digid.nl/en/about-digid.
You can find a more dynamic and simple explanation about DigiD on the following link (available in English, French, Arabic and Dutch): digid.uabc.nl/en.
Will my driving licence be valid?
Two different situations apply for driving licences issued in an Member State of the European Union/European Free Trade Association (EU/EFTA):
- Issued before 19 January 2013: in this case you can normally carry on driving with the foreign driving licence for 15 years (from the date of issue of the foreign driving licence). If your driving licence is already over nine years old, you can continue to drive with your driving licence for another two years (counting from the date of registering in a Dutch municipality). However, this is on condition that your driving licence is still valid.
- Issued after 19 January 2013: you can normally carry on driving with the foreign driving licence for up to 1 year. This is on condition that your driving licence is still valid.
If your driving licence was issued outside one of the countries of the EU/EFTA or in the Caribean part of the Netherlands, you may use an international driving licence for up to 185 days after becoming a resident in the Netherlands. Before the end of that period, you must have obtained a Dutch driving licence.
The RDW (Dutch Road Transport Directorate) provides a listing of the EU/EFTA members as well as the most up to date information related to this topic: www.rdw.nl/information-in-english/driving-licence/driving-with-a-foreign-driving-licence.In some cases, you will be able to exchange your foreign driving licence for a Dutch one. You may submit an application with the municipality. The procedure is explained on the RDW’s website that we have mentioned above.
Please note that when exchanging a driving licence, you will be asked to hand in your old licence. A counter clerk will collect your foreign driving licence and give you a certified copy and a receipt. You will not receive your old driving licence back after the exchange. Instead, the RDW will return your driving licence to the issuing authority in your country of origin.
Persons with diplomatic status or working at certain international organisations (privileged card holders) may drive in the Netherlands without the need to exchange their foreign licence for a Dutch one. You will, however, need a valid foreign driving licence and an identity pass for privileged persons from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
I am entitled to the '30% tax ruling'. Will my driving licence be valid?
Anyone who is entitled to benefit from the ’30 percent tax ruling’ can simply exchange their licence, no matter where they are from. This applies to your partner and children registered at the same address too. Ask for an exchange form for the foreign driving licence at the municipality where you are registered. Please note that applications sent directly to RDW (Dutch Road Transport Directorate) will not be processed. You can find further information on the documentation that you need for the exchange on: www.rdw.nl/information-in-english/driving-licence/how-can-i-exchange-a-foreign-driving-licence
What is a 'Certificate of Fitness' (VvG)? And when is it necessary?
A Verklaring van Geschiktheid – VvG (certificate of fitness) may be required by the Centraal Bureau Rijvaardigheidsbewijzen – CBR (Central Office for Motor Vehicle Driver Testing), when applying for a driving licence in the following cases:
- when a Dutch licence is first issued
- when a driving licence is exchanged and the country of issue do not belong to the European Union/European Free Trade Association (EU/EFTA)
- if you have a medical restriction
- if you are older than 75 years
You can find more details about when a VvG is required and how to proceed on the RDW’s website (Dutch Road Transport Directorate).
Which insurances are most important in the Netherlands?
There are a few insurances that are compulsory in the Netherlands:
- If you reside in the Netherlands, you have to apply for a basisverzekering (basic health insurance)
- If you own a house and have a mortgage, an overlijdensrisicoverzekering (term life insurance) is usually required by your mortgage provider
- If you have a car, a third party wettelijke aansprakelijkheidsverzekering – WA (legal liability insurance) is compulsory. However, to protect yourself against the costs of repair to your car if it is involved in an accident or if it is stolen, you are advised to take out fully cascoverzekering (comprehensive insurance), although this is usually more expensive
The following insurances are not compulsory but it may be a good idea to check whether to get them:
- Aanvullende verzekering (additional health insurance)
- Aansprakelijkheidsverzekering (liability insurance) including damage you cause to others or their goods, damage caused by your pet or damage abroad
- Rechtbijstandsverzekering (legal aid insurance)
- If you rent or own a house an inboedelverzekering (home insurance)
- If you own a house an opstalverzekering (residential premises insurance) will be needed to take out a Dutch mortgage
Depending on your situation, additional insurances can be taken out, such as an ongevallen inzittenden verzekering (personal accident insurance), schade inzittendenverzekering (personal damage insurance) or levensverzekering (life insurance).
I am a student who has just arrived to the Netherlands. What are the formalities that have to be completed?
All new residents, including foreign student, who will be staying in the Netherlands longer than four months are required to register with the gemeente (municipality). The following documents are usually required when registering:
- Passport (or ID card for EU citizens)
- Proof of address (i.e. rental contract or permission from the main occupant)
- For students who need to apply for a residence permit it is necessary to present the receipt sent by the immigration authorities (IND) to the school. The school should provide you with this document
Some schools participate in the centralised registration days, meaning that international students will be able to register at the basisregistratie persoonsgegevens – BRP (municipal personal records database) at their school of higher education. In 2018 the participating schools are: Delft University of Technology, The Hague University of Applied Sciences, Hotelschool The Hague, Royal Conservatoire, Royal Academy of Art, Institute of Social Studies, Leiden University and Leiden University College.
International students can also get the student card. Once you have applied for the card, you will be able to get special student discounts in particular shops or places to eat. Check out the website Studentkorting.nl.
Visit the ACCESS FAQ’s of Higher Education in the Netherlands for further details.
Is there any insurance that applies to me as a student?
Dutch health insurance
International students studying in the Netherlands are usually not required to take out a Dutch health insurance. For more information you can visit the section Dutch medical insurance for students on the ACCESS FAQ’s.
Inboedelverzekering (home insurance)
This insurance can be used against loss, theft or damage of the contents of your residence. If you rent a room/apartment, you should check if your landlord has contents insurance and whether or not your contents are covered by the landlord’s policy. Valuable items may need to be covered by a special separate policy.
Aansprakelijkheidsverzekering (liability insurance)
In the Netherlands, it is very normal to have liability insurance; more than 90% of all Dutch citizens have this insurance. With this liability insurance, you are covered against any damage you unintentionally cause to another person or person’s property.
What are the emergency numbers in the Netherlands?
In this chapter, you may find useful details and numbers on: emergency numbers, Police stations, 24-hour medical service, 24-hour Gas/Electricity Number, Counselling and Helplines, Lost and Found, Embassies/Consulates and useful Dutch words.
The Netherlands country code is +31.
112 is the emergency number for fire, police and ambulance and so is only to be used in cases of real emergency, when every second counts. 112 is the emergency number throughout Europe.
For police services, or for the Aliens’ police, first call 0900 8844. You will then be connected to your local police station or visit www.politie.nl
24-hour medical service
020 – 592 3434
The Hague (Huisartsendienst)
070 – 346 9669
010 – 290 9888
24 hour information on phone numbers for doctors
(‘t Gooi, Almere, Amersfoort areas) and dentists (not all areas)
0900 1515(day time only)
0900 9359 (night time and weekend)
0900 821 2230
070 – 311 0305
010 – 455 2155
(17:00 – 08:00 answer phone in Dutch)
Local free newspapers list after-hours emergency numbers or contact your local pharmacy (apotheek).
24hr Veterinary Service
020 – 560 6360
Amsterdam (after 15:30)
The Hague (08:00 – 20:00)
070 – 325 5907
The Hague (weekends)
070 – 311 0307
Gas, electricity 24-hour number:
A 24-hour national number to call for electricity, gas or meter problems, if you suspect a gas leak, smell fumes or have a general power problem: 0800 9009.
The first Monday of the month at 12:00 noon, emergency sirens are tested. Do not be alarmed. In the event of a real emergency, turn on your television or radio to a local station for further information.
List of useful numbers in the Netherlands
ACCESS Counselling Service Network
(also see Counsellor on Call)
0900 222 2377
Parnassia The Hague
070 – 391 6391
PsyQ International (8.30 until 17.30 and on Tuesday and Thursday from 8.30 until 20.00)
088 357 3478
(Netherlands Association for Outpatients’ Mental Health Care)
020 – 611 6022
Centre for Domestic Violence Amsterdam
020 626 3800 (8.00 – 23.00)
Emergency 06 10599458
070 – 362 0496
0900 899 8411
(Weekdays 09:00 – 23:00
Weekends 15:00 – 23:00)
020 – 675 7575
The Hague (24hr)
070 – 345 4500
010 – 436 2323
Zoetermeer (20:00 – 02:00)
079 – 352 3737
030 – 294 3344
Some of these organisations are run by Dutch volunteers. If the volunteer cannot speak English, one will be found who can help. If the answer is a tape in Dutch, listen carefully – how to reach someone in person will be explained.
0900 204 2040
(in English, Monday to Wednesday : 09.30 – 15.30, thursday and Friday: 13.30 to 15.30)
Alcoholics Anonymous (24hr)
020 – 625 6057
Alcohol and Drug Abuse
Amsterdam (drugs, alcohol)
Jellinek Drug and alcohol help center
088 505 1220
Triora 088 358 3741
Rotterdam (drugs, alcohol & clinic)
IGHD verslavingzorg 010 423 2711
Centre for Domestic Violence Amsterdam
020 626 3800 (8.00 – 23.00)
Emergency – 06 10599458
The Hague (24hr, everyday)
070 – 392 5774
Rotterdam (24hr, everyday)
010 – 476 1680
Child Line (02:00 – 20:00 everyday)
Drugs Advice Clinic
020 – 570 2355
The Hague Parnassia
070 – 391 7800
Lost and Found
Report an object you found at: www.verlorenofgevonden.nl, and keep it at home. If no one comes to collect the object after one year, you can keep it. Handing in at the police station is no longer possible from January 2013.
0800 – 0313
030 – 283 5555
Giro Pass/Giros (24hr) (ING MAstercard)
058 – 212 6000
Visa Card issued inside NL (ABN AMRO)
020 – 660 0611
Visa Card issued outside NL
0800 022 4176
020 – 504 8000
Amex (after 20:00 and weekends)
020 – 504 8666
In a taxi
Amsterdam – 020 – 677 7777
The Hague – 070 – 555 5555
Rotterdam – 010 – 462 6060
In public transport or places
Embassies and Consulates
Find your Embassy or Consulate in the Netherlands: www.government.nl/issues/embassies-consulates-and-other-representations