Preparing for your stay in the Netherlands
Are you moving to the Netherlands? Great! Before you settle down here, you have to arrange all sorts of things. We have listed the most important things to make it a bit easier for you.
Applying for all kinds of documents can be quite confusing and challenging. What do you need to arrange before you leave for the Netherlands and after arrival? Let's break down 8 of the things you need to do before moving.
Important organizations and digital portals to know
Let's start with a short list of the organizations and digital portals you will most likely need to use. We discuss these in detail later.
- Immigrations & Naturalisation Service (IND)
IND takes care of all applications from those who want to live in the Netherlands or want to become Dutch citizens. You can apply for a residence permit via IND's website.
A secure communication system, like a digital passport. You use your DigiD to log in to certain websites, where you can arrange everything with the government, education, healthcare, or your pension fund. You can apply for a DigiD via its website.
- Mijn Belastingdienst
Belastingdienst is the Dutch tax office that is responsible for the assessment and collection of taxes. Arrange tax matters through Mijn Belastingsdienst. You log in with your DigiD.
MijnOverheid is a website where you can arrange all communication with the government. Here, you find all your personal information in one place. Think of information about you, your work, your retirement, your home, your car, and your education. You log in with your DigiD.
- Mijn toeslagen
Mijn toeslagen is your personal webpage to arrange allowances, like child allowance, healthcare allowance, and housing allowance.
Things to arrange before you leave
#1 Finding your new home
Before you come to the Netherlands, you should look for a home. If your employer doesn't provide you with housing, this will be the first thing that should be on your checklist.
If you move to the Netherlands from another country, you may want to start renting rather than buying. However, we won’t deny it, the current housing market can make it difficult to find a suitable home. Luckily, there are several websites and agencies that can help you find a new home. One of them is us: Holland2Stay!
On our website, you can find all residences that are available. The filter menu allows you to select your wishes and requirements, making it easy to find your perfect home. For example, you can filter on city, building, building facilities, residence facilities, residence finishing, amount of rent for each month, or the number of bedrooms. You can book available residences directly. If you fulfill the requirements, the residence is yours.
Every week, we have all kinds of residences available in our lottery. Each Thursday (at 19:00), newly available lottery residences are published on our website. We'll randomly select a new tenant by lottery, which automatically is selected to book. This gives everyone an equal chance of finding a home.
For individuals with a relatively low income, most rents are too high in relation to what you earn. On request, the Tax Services of the Dutch government provide these individuals with a housing allowance in order to make these homes more affordable. Particularly students fall into a lower income group, which is why students are most likely eligible to receive a housing allowance. You can apply for a housing allowance via Mijn toeslagen.
#2 Your residence permit
First of all, when you have the nationality of an EU/EEA country or Switzerland, you do not need a residence permit to live in the Netherlands. After 5 years, you should apply for permanent residence for EU citizens.
Temporary residence permit
Once you have arrived in the Netherlands, you need to apply for a Dutch residence permit at the Immigration and Naturalisation Service (IND). You can easily do this online by filling in different forms.
Provisional residence permit (MVV)
If you don't have the nationality of one of the following countries and you intend to stay in the Netherlands for more than 90 days, you must also apply for a provisional residence permit:
- Countries that are in the EU and EEA
- New Zealand
- Vatican City
- United Kingdom
- United States of America
- South Korea
You can apply for your provisional residence permit and your residence permit at the Dutch embassy or consulate in your country of origin or in the country where you have been living for more than 3 months.
Admission and residence application (TEV)
In many cases, your future employer, future educational institution, or your partner you're going to live with can apply for a residence permit from the Netherlands. In the Netherlands, we call those persons and organizations ‘sponsors’. Your sponsor will need to submit an admission and residence application (TEV) to the Immigration and Nationalisation Service (IND) in the Netherlands. This can be done online.
Once your residence permit is completed and accepted, you'll receive a letter at home with more information about when and where you can pick it up at the municipality.
Good to know: temporary residence permits are valid for up to 5 years. After that, you need to apply for permanent residence, also called 'duurzaam verblijf' in Dutch. You can do this at the Immigration and Naturalisation Service (IND).
#3 FOREIGN DRIVING LICENsE
If you want to drive in the Netherlands, check whether you can use your license here. This depends on the country where you've got your license. Find more information here.
Things to arrange after your arrival
#4 Register with the municipality
After finding accommodation, you need to register with the municipality where you will be living. In the Netherlands, this is free. The necessary documents you need to register at a Dutch municipality are:
- A valid passport or identity card
- Your residence permit
- Your rental contract
- A certified copy of your birth certificate
- If applicable, your foreign marriage certificate or certificate of registered partnership
It's important to keep in mind that you must register within only 5 days of arriving in the Netherlands. Make an appointment on the municipality's website where you will be living. After registering, the municipality will arrange for you:
- A citizen service number (BSN)
- Your registration in the Personal Records Database (BRP)
A citizen service number (BSN) is mandatory to be able to apply for your residence permit, communicate with the government, apply for health care, and to open a bank account. In the Personal Records Database, personal data (marriage, the birth of a child, or a change of address) is listed for people who live in the Netherlands.
Are you moving within the Netherlands?
Are you moving within the Netherlands? Then you must again report this to the municipality where you will be living. They will adjust your address in the Personal Records Database. With your registration in your new municipality, you're automatically deregistered in your old municipality. In most times, you can do this digitally.
Staying for less than 4 months
When you are staying for less than 4 months in the Netherlands, registering with the municipality is not necessary. However, it can be handy to be registered as a non-resident in the Personal Records Database. You must arrange that with the municipality you're going to live for the time being. With registration, you will be able to apply for a citizen service number (BSN), which allows you to communicate with the government.
#5 Apply for a DigiD
Everyone living in the Netherlands needs a DigiD. With a DigiD, you can log in securely online if you want to arrange something with the government, education, healthcare, or your pension fund. You can apply for an account through the online application form.
Are you already living in the Netherlands? Then you only need your citizen service number (BSN) to apply for a DigiD. After applying, you will receive a letter with an activation code within a maximum of 3 working days (which are considered as Monday to Friday).
Are you still living abroad? And do you have the nationality of another country in the EEA? Then apply for a DigiD here. You need the following documents to apply for a DigiD from abroad:
- The nationality of a country in the European Economic Area (EEA)
- Your citizen service number (BSN)
- A registration in the Non-residents Records Database (RNI)
- A telephone number
- An email address
Keep in mind that a DigiD is personal. You cannot apply for it for someone else.
#6 Arranging Dutch healthcare
Dutch health care is rated amongst the best in Europe. It's managed by the government and is very accessible. In fact, basic insurance is the same for everyone and mandatory for everyone who lives or works in the Netherlands. Your health insurance policy must be effective within four months after arrival in the Netherlands.
There are two types of health insurance in the Netherlands: compulsory basic health insurance and optional additional insurance.
Compulsory basic health insurance
Basic health insurance covers the costs for basic care, such as the general practitioner, pharmacy, and hospital stay. In 2021, basic Dutch health insurance will cost you approximately €140 each month.
International students are not always obliged to take out Dutch health insurance. This depends on where you come from, and what else you do besides your study. Is your stay only temporary? Then, basic health care insurance is not always compulsory. Check here if you need to apply for basic health insurance while studying in the Netherlands.
Optional additional health insurance
There are various packages that supplement the basic health care package. These are not mandatory, but they are useful if you need a lot of extra care. You can adjust the additional insurance to what you need. For example, additional health insurance can cover extra costs for the dentist or physiotherapy. The health insurer determines the terms and conditions. These will differ for each health insurer, so it is wise to compare different insurers with each other.
Choosing a health insurance
You are free to select the health insurance provider of your choice. On Zorgwijzer you can compare Dutch health insurance and prices. It might be convenient to choose a company that offers information in English. Good examples are ONVZ, VGZ, or Zilveren Kruis. You can also choose international health insurance, of which premiums cover you in multiple countries, such as Allianz Care. On websites such as Independer and ZorgKiezer, you can compare health insurance policies.
Find a general practitioner
It's good to register with a general practitioner. This way, you'll be able to access care if you need it. In the Netherlands, you can only be accessed by a specialist after a referral by a general practitioner. There are general practitioners in all cities and in almost every village. The general practitioner is meant for medical problems that are not an emergency. For emergencies, you go to the emergency room in the hospital.
You can find general practitioners here (only in Dutch). Enter your postal code or the city you live in and the website will rank all general practitioners nearby. Otherwise, you can always go to the town hall for more information about general practitioners in the area.
It's not mandatory to choose a general practitioner nearby. However, it will be very convenient that the general practitioner can get to you quickly in an emergency. Keep in mind that general practitioners are free to decline your registration if you live too far away from the practice.
Some general practices allow you to register online, others only at the practice. You'll need the following documents when registering with a general practitioner.
- A valid passport or identity card
- Your citizen service number (BSN)
- Health insurance details
Because it's important to feel comfortable, you can make an appointment to get to know the general practitioner. Although more and more general practitioners allow you to make an appointment online, in most cases you have to call for an appointment. When calling, you will first have a short phone consultation with the assistant. This is Dutch protocol so that the general practitioner can prepare and knows how much time the consultation will take.
Deductible: eigen risico
Although you have basic health insurance, you have to pay the first €385* of costs yourself. This is called 'eigen risico' in Dutch. The government determines the amount of the deductible for each year. If you have to pay more than €385 during the year, the health insurance company will pay these costs. For children under 18, you do not pay a deductible.
You pay 'eigen risico' for transport by ambulance, mental health care, blood tests, visiting a medical specialist in a hospital, or when making an X-ray. You don't pay 'eigen risico' for visits to the general practitioner or for care by the midwife.
*In 2023, the deductible is set at €385.
When your income is relatively low, you can get a healthcare allowance from the government. Whether you are eligible for a healthcare allowance, you can check here (in Dutch). You can apply for it here.
In the Netherlands, most payments are made by cash, debit cards, or via internet banking. You need a debit card to be able to pay most of your bills and sign up for subscriptions more easily.
Opening a Dutch bank account is not difficult. Depending on the bank and what kind of account you need, costs are different. A Dutch bank account typically costs something between €2 and €20 per month. There are many banks in the Netherlands, of which the most used are ABN Ambro and ING. You can arrange it online or simply visit an office. Most major cities have one of (or all of) the above banks’ offices.
Keep in mind that credit cards are not widely accepted in the Netherlands. For example, American Express is often not accepted in restaurants, supermarkets, and other stores. Mastercard and Visa are the most accepted credit cards.
What do you need when opening a Dutch bank account?
- Your citizen service number (BSN)
- A valid passport or identity card
- Your rental contract as proof of address
- Your residence permit (if you come from outside the EU)
#8 Arrange your other insurances
Besides the obliged healthcare insurance, it's wise to apply for some other insurances. You can easily compare different insurance companies on Independer.
- Household insurance (inboedelverzekering in Dutch)
With household insurance, all your belongings at home are insured for damage caused by burglary, storm, leakage, or fire. It's not mandatory to have it but it's recommended.
- Personal insurance (aansprakelijksheidsverzekering in Dutch)
Personal insurance is needed when you accidentally cause damage to a third party and are held responsible. It's not mandatory to have it but it's recommended.
- Car insurance (WA-verzekering voor motorvoertuig in Dutch)
If you have a car, it's mandatory to have car insurance in the Netherlands.
Hopefully, we have now given you enough information about preparing for your stay. It's of course possible that you're missing some information that's not covered above. Additional information on preparing for your stay in the Netherlands can be found on the website of the Dutch Government. Good luck!