ACCESS NL > Relocating to the Netherlands > First three months > Formalities > What is a BSN? Am I required to get one?
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 local municipality office:
• 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 Den Haag. Please bear in mind that other municipalities may state different requirements. Once registered with the municipality, you will get a Burgerservicenummer (BSN). 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 will 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.
Authenticity stamp and the bureaucratic procedures linked to it will no longer be required when presenting public documents issued in one EU country to the authorities of another EU country. Under the new rules, citizens are also no longer required to provide a sworn/ official translation of their public document in many cases.
Find further information on: government.nl/topics/legalising-documents.
What is DigiD?
DigiD (short for Digital Identification) is a form of online ID that allows you access to many services and government websites 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 personal public service number (BSN). 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?
Do you have a driving licence that was issued in one of the countries of the European Union (EU) or European Free Trade Association (EFTA) and do you live in the Netherlands? If so, you can continue to drive on this licence in the Netherlands for 15 years (from the date of issue of the foreign driving licence). This applies to the categories AM, A1, A2, A, B and BE. The driving licence must be valid for this to apply.
For the categories C1, C, D1, D, C1E, D1E and DE, the maximum period is five yearts as of the issue date of the driving licence. Has this period elapsed or is the period you can drive here shorter than two years at the moment at which you take up residence in the Netherlands? If so, you can drive in the Netherlands with the foreign driving licence for another two years as of the date you register.
On the website of Expat Centre Leiden https://www.expatcentreleiden.nl/living-here/getting-around/motor-vehicles-and-driving-license/driving-license you find furher useful information about the validity of your foreign driving licence.
If your driving licence was issued outside one of the countries of the EU/EFTA or in the Caribbean 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) (Dutch only), 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 CBR’s website (Dutch only)
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.
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 studentenkorting.nl (Dutch only).
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.
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
Go to www.verlorenofgevonden.nl, register what you lost and see if it is found. Always do a theft online declaration via www.politie.nl in case of theft or visit the policiebureau.
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.
For more information visit www.verlorenofgevonden.nl or thehague.com.
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
What are the emergency numbers in the Netherlands?
In the Netherlands there is no 24 hours medical service. During office hours you can contact your GP. After office hours and in the weekend, every municipality has a so called huisartsenpost that can be contacted for medical problems that can’t wait until your own GP is available again. We could list the numbers of the huisartsenpost in several cities, but when you call your GP after office hours or in the weekend, you will be referred to the huisartsenpost and the phone number will be given. The same goes for dentists. In most cities there are several vets who offer after hours service and some even offer 24 hour service. They are all commercial. The common rule for huisartsen and dentists is also for vets. In general you call your own vet if your pet has problems. If he/she is not available, you can call an emergency service. This is also often listed on the website of your vet.
You can find all emergency numbers here.
What to do when I hear the sirens?
Every first Monday of the month you at 12 (noon) you will hear the sirens. Iit is just a test and it takes 1 minute and 26 seconds. YThe alarm has nothing to do with attacks from an enemy anymore. Nowadays, it is a warning in case of a huge fire or an environmental disaster.
If you hear the sirens on any other day or time other than the first Monday of any month, do the following:
- Go inside. If you are outside, working or shopping, go inside as soon as possible, for example enter a shop or any other building.
- If you are in a car, leave your car and go into a building. In case this is not possible (e.g. you are on a highway), stay inside the car and close all windows and ventilation/air conditioning.
- Leave your children at school.
- Offer others the opportunity to hide with you.
- Close the windows and the doors. Also close other openings in your house and if possible turn the air conditioning off.
- Do not make phone calls unless absolutely necessary.
- Listen to the regional radio. The government will inform you via this channel what is going on and what you need to do. If you don’t understand Dutch, ask your neighbours or other people near you what you need to to.
In case of a national emergency, listen to NPO Radio 1 (see www.radio-frequentie.nl/radio-1/ for a frequency list) or watch TV on channel NPO 1 (also known as Nederland 1). The frequency of channel NPO 1 depends on your location and your television provider.
You can find additional information on what to do in case of emergency and how you can prepare for one at this website www.crisis.nl (Dutch only)
In addition NL-alert is used to inform you about disasters. It tells you what’s going on, what you should do and where you can find more information.
You receive NL-Alert on your mobile phone. NL-Alert can also be seen on an increasing number of digital advertising displays and digital signage at train, bus, tram and metro stops. A handy factsheet about NL-alert can be found on the website of the government