Congratulations! You are in Amsterdam, you have an apartment where you can register, and most probably a job or internship. What now?
As much as you are excited for moving here, there are a few administrative tasks that you should complete to not contradict Dutch laws.
The Dutch system is well-organised, but at the same time respected – let’s face it, living here means also becoming part of their system.
The necessary steps after moving to Amsterdam:
1. Obtain a Resident Permit
People from EU, Switzerland or EER do not need a resident permit to move to The Netherlands.
For non-EU citizens, it is obligatory to get the IND (Immigration and Naturalisation Service). If you already have a job in Amsterdam, your employee can apply for your resident permit.
If not, you need to make an appointment, fill-up the form and pay for the service.
To get a resident permit, you will have to allow IND to take your photo and fingerprints.
2. Register and Get Your BSN Number
After moving to Amsterdam, you will need your BSN Number. It is essential for all the administrative processes in The Netherlands – from opening your bank account to getting your pay check, establish your health insurance and applying for other benefits. This is why scheduling an appointment with Geemente (The Town Hall) should be your main priority when getting to Amsterdam.
For me, it took 3 weeks from when I called for an appointment to its date. This is why I advise you to schedule it as soon as possible. If you already know the date from which you will be in Amsterdam, have your apartment and job sorted out, scheduling an appointment upfront is a genius idea.
(And back to the previous point – if you know someone who already lives in Amsterdam, they can call and schedule an appointment for you.)
Take into consideration, that you will need these documents for the appointment:
- a valid Passport or ID card
- your rental agreement (signed by your landlord)
- an international and certified copy of your Birth certificate
(Even if you are from EU this is needed, therefore before leaving ask for an English copy of your Birth certificate at your local Town Hall. Other accepted languages are: German, Dutch and French.)
If you are married, you will also need a certificate of your marriage, partnership or divorce.
3. Open a bank account
Most of the payments in Amsterdam can be done only by card. As much as I was surprised by this initiative, I later learned that it is a really good strategy to avoid store and bus robbery. Furthermore, once you get used to paying everything by card (or with your bank app), you don’t have to carry cash in your wallet anymore (and are able to impulsively buy every pretty thing or food on the street).
To open your bank account, you will need:
- your Passport or Identity card
- your BSN number
- a proof of your address (a rental agreement)
- residency permit (if you come outside of EU)
There are many banks in The Netherlands, but from my experience the most popular are:
You might take into consideration opening a bank account in one of them, since they have the most ATM’s placed in the city. Another option is to ask your employer which bank account is used by his/her company to make sure your payment will always arrive on time.
I opened a bank account in ING Bank, and frankly, I did so because I heard their bank app is in English. Which is true!
I advise you to schedule an appointment upfront, because the bank is usually full of people, and after arriving there without an appointment you cannot leave the place if you don’t want to lose your spot.
I arrived in one of the ING banks in the morning and waited for more than 1 hour for my appointment. (Thankfully they offer you coffee or tea when it’s your turn, so this is a plus.)
My friend went to ABN AMRO bank without an appointment, and they were so busy that they could not accept her on the same day.
So – call them and schedule an appointment to not lose your time.
As you know, time is money!
When it was my turn, everything went by very quickly. The polite and genuinely nice employee asked me simple questions about where am I from, and why would I like to open a bank account. After submitting the necessary document she informed me, that I will receive my PIN through post.
It might come as a disappointment, but the first letters that you receive from the bank will be in Dutch. Although, they online banking system and app are in English.
After opening a bank account and getting the card, you can process online payments through iDeal – an online banking system.
You can automatically use iDeal if you have a bank account in one of the following banks:
- ABN AMRO
- ASN Bnak
- Bunq (also in English)
- Svenska Handelsbanken
- Tridos Bank
- Van Lanschot
4. Apply for DigiD
Officially DigiD is “an identity management platform which government agencies of the Netherlands, including the Tax and Customs Administration and Dienst Uitvoering Onderwijs, can use to verify the identity of Dutch residents on the Internet. In 2015 it was used for 200 million authentications by 12 million citizens.” (Wikipedia)
I see DigiD as a form of “virtual identity” – since most documents in The Netherlands are shared online, this is your authentication to access them online. You can apply for DigiD online – to do it, you will have to set-up an username and password.
Write them down, as you will need them again after receiving a letter on your home address with an unique code.
The letter is in Dutch, but basically, it tells you to confirm your identity by inserting yor user name and password on their website, and the code you have received in the letter.
You will need DigiD to access all important document – from your health insurance, to your tax information, and other administrative necessities.
Since it takes up to 2 weeks to receive the letter, my advice is to apply for DigiD as soon as you receive your BSN number.
5. Get Insured
By Dutch law everyone who lives in The Netherlands and/or is receiving an income in The Netherlands must have health insurance from this country.
This is for your benefit and gives you the right to go to the doctor and get help when you need it. Nonetheless, many residents of EU (including me) found it odd, as in some other European states the health insurance from your country (with the additional insurance for abroad) is usually enough.
This does not apply to The Netherlands, and the sooner you make peace with it, the better.
The insurance is obligatory, and if you do not apply for it in the period of 3 months, you could be contacted by the government, and at the end you could also get a fine.
Another fact that you should be aware of is, that you need to pay for the insurance from the moment you registered. Therefore, even if you apply for the insurance after 2 months of living in The Netherlands, the first bill will include the amount for the previous two months as well.
Just be prepared for it, and you will be fine.
There is a really good site, where you can read more about the insurance system in The Netherlands, and compare the different insurance companies – it is called Zorgverzekering.
Good to know:
- Even when you are insured, you have to pay for your treatment until the pre-agreed amount, which is usually 385€.
Carefully read all the terms and conditions of each insurance – if the monthly premium is low, you might have a higher limit!
- You can change your insurance only once a year – at the end of the year, therefore carefully choose the insurance and get as much information as possible before deciding for one provider. I would highly recommend calling them earlier to get a feel of their customer service.
- The basic insurance costs around 100€ and covers only the basic needs – get to know what your insurance covers, before you get distracted by the low cost.
- If your monthly income is low, you can check if you are eligible to get Healthcare Allowance. The amount of the allowance depends on your income – you can see how much would you be able to get here and calculate it on this website. (Both sites are in Dutch) You can click here to apply.
After completing this list you can finally breathe…Or celebrate! You are now officially living in Amsterdam!
Do you have any questions?
Do not hesitate to leave a comment or contact me here!