Legally Settling In
As an expat, you need to do some paperwork to legally settle in the Netherlands. This includes getting a
BSN, opening a bank account, getting health insurance, and registering at the municipality.
Your Legal Identity
Your legal identity in the Netherlands comes from a combination of identities that you have. These include:
- Your birthday
- Your passport number
- Your v-number, which is assigned to you by the IND (the immigration office)
BSN, which is assigned to you by the municipality
To protect your identity, it's important to keep at least your birthday and
BSN, you obtain the rest of your identities before you arrive in the Netherlands. You can find your
v-number on your IND letter. We'll go through the process of getting a
BSN in later sections.
BSN is the most important one. It's used for everything from opening a bank account, health insurance and taxation. You can get a
BSN by registering at the municipality. You can find more information about this in the Registration section.
Before You Arrive
These are based on my experience coming from Iran. If you're coming from a different country, you might need to take different steps.
You need to bring some legalized documents with you to the Netherlands. These include:
- Birth certificate
- Marriage certificate (if applicable)
- Driver's license (if applicable)
- University degree (if applicable)
These documents will be used when you're registering at the municipality.
Also if your employer is going to apply for a 30% ruling for you, they'll give you a list of documents that you need to bring with you. Also some documents can help you if the process 30% doesn't go smoothly. These include:
- University degree (if applicable)
- Previous employment contracts
- Previous payslips
- Bank statements of the last two years
- Proof of your previous address
If you're not coming from an EU country, you need to have a visa sponsor (usually your employer or university) to open and application for a visa for you and your family members on IND. It would take some time for IND to process your application, based on my experience, between ten days to a month depending on the case.
After IND approves your application, they'll send you a letter with your visa details. You need to take this letter with you to the embassy of the Netherlands in your country to get your visa. You usually need to schedule and appointment with them for MVV visa.
If your visa sponsor is also applying for your family members on your behalf, they might need some extra information from you before they can submit the application to IND. Therefore you might need to schedule a legalization appointment with the embassy of the Netherlands in your country as well before your IND application is submitted.
Sometimes due to high demand, it might take a while to get an appointments which can result in delays in other processes. Therefore it's important to schedule appointments as soon as possible:
- The embassy of the Netherlands in your country
- IND: To collect your residence permit after you arrive in the Netherlands
- Municipality: You need to call the municipality to schedule an appointment for registration. You can find the phone number of the municipality from google.
- For Amsterdam, you can find the phone number here.
AFAIK, you need to call for an appointment from the municipality of Amsterdam and they won't accept your online appointment. But you might get your BSN from your online appointment without registration.
You can also use Iamsterdam services for registration and other things.
After You Arrive
You need a phone number to be able to do a lot of things like opening a bank account. You can start with a prepaid sim card from Lebara or Lyca. You can switch to a better plan later after you've got your bank account.
After you arrived, you need to be able to pay for stuff (including short stay or deposit and rent) And you need to have a bank account for that. This is mostly problematic for residence of countries that don't have access to the internationally recognized payment systems like Visa and MasterCard.
On the other hand most banks require your
BSN upon opening a bank account, which you get the first time you register at the municipality. This chicken and egg problem doesn't always have a straight forward solution specially if you don't have a temporary address. But if you have temporary address, some banks like ABN AMRO and Revolut allow you to open a bank account without a
BSN and give you eight weeks to provide it.
You can read more about banking in Banking.
If you're living more than 4 months in the Netherlands, you need to register at the municipality of your residential address. Your residential address must have free capacity for registration. Each municipality has a different rule for the maximum number of people that can live (and therefore register) in each address. You can find the municipality of your residential address here by selecting
Transport region municipalities.
As an expat, you might not have a residential address when you arrive. There are two ways to tackle this problem:
- Your employer might be able to provide you with a temporary address, usually the office address. You need to ask HR about this and get proper documents from them.
- The place you're staying at might also be able to provide you with a temporary address. We stayed on the student hotel which was able to provide us with a temporary address.
- You need to rent a place first before you can register. You can find more information about this in the Renting An Apartment.
Getting a BSN without Registration
This requires the people on municipality to be willing to help you. I have not done this myself and I don't have full information and details about it but it's worth a try.
If you've already have an appointment with the municipality not the right one, you can ask them to give you your BSN number without registration and they might be able to do that for you.
DigiD is a digital identity that you can use to access online services of the Dutch government. You can apply for a DigiD here. You can log into every service that requires your identity (like your health insurance provider, IND, etc.) via DigiD.
Some services require you to do an ID check on DigiD before you can use them. You need a document that has your BSN on it (like your driver's license) to do the ID check on DigiD app.
Your first residence permit is not acceptable for ID check on DigiD.
MijnOverheid is a website that you can use to access your information from the Dutch government. You can access your tax information, your health insurance information, etc. on MijnOverheid. You can log into MijnOverheid with your DigiD. You need to select the services that you want to use on MijnOverheid.
If you're not an EU citizen, you need to collect your residence permit from IND desk. Your visa sponsor should provide you with the address of the IND desk. You can schedule an appointment with the IND desk here.
You have to get health insurance in the Netherlands within 4 months of your arrival. You can compare different health insurance providers and get health insurance on independer.
You can read more about this on Healthcare.
If you're eligible for 30% ruling, your employer should apply for it within 4 months of your arrival. There's not much you can do about it yourself, but you can follow up the status of your application from Belastingdienst either from Twitter or by calling them like this tweet:
Goodmorning, of course I’ll guide you. Please call + 31 555 385 385 and press 2 for the english menu. After this, press 2 again. From this moment you can get an english speaking colleague on the phone. ^SH— Belastingdienst (@Belastingdienst) June 27, 2023