Once you have arrived in the Netherlands
What to do when you have arrived?
Note: Some steps only apply to students from Non-EU countries. They are marked with: 'Non-EU' in the title.
Eight steps to take
Students arriving at Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport wishing to travel to accommodation in Amsterdam, are advised to take the train from the airport to the station nearest their accommodation. The Dutch national railway company is the NS (Nederlandse Spoorwegen). NS trains, signage and logo are yellow and blue. Once you’ve arrived at your destination station in Amsterdam, it may be necessary to transfer to the metro, bus or tram. For travel information, route planning and tickets, go to
To plan a journey using public transport, go to the 9292 website. Enter your start point and destination address. Recommended modes of transport will include NS trains where relevant. 9292 has also got a great smartphone app that’s very useful if you want to check en route, or if you’re lost and need information.
If you want to travel around the Netherlands with public transport, you will need a Dutch national public transport travelcard, or OV-chipkaart (OV is short for Openbaar Vervoer, meaning Public Transport). It works exclusively on a debit basis. There are two types of travelcard:
Prepaid OV Travelcard (not registered to an individual). This type of card can be purchased at NS railway stations, kiosks and supermarkets. The card costs € 7.50, but this does not include any travel credit, so don’t forget to top it up! You can top up your OV Travelcard using cash or a debit card – credit cards are not accepted.
Registered OV Travelcard (personal and not anonymous). This is the best option if you travel a lot and want a subscription, which allows you to travel for a reduced fare. For example, around € 90 a month will get you unlimited travel by bus, tram and metro. Apply for this card at www.ov-chipkaart.nl. You can also top up your registered card at this site.
How to use your OV Travel Card: Before traveling check into the bus, tram, metro or train by holding your card in front of the clearly marked card readers on posts either at the platform or stop, or else inside the bus or tram. Don’t forget to check out at similar posts at the end of each stage of your journey. When checking out, the post will display the fare paid and the remaining credit on your OV Travelcard. If there is insufficient credit on your card, you will not be able to check in and travel.
You can make appointment Dutch Immigration and Naturalisation Service (IND) on:
If you have questions about your residence document, please contact the Central Student Administration:
firstname.lastname@example.org / +31 (0)20 5277734
For general information on visas, go to https://www.ahk.nl/en/prospective-students/preparing-your-stay/visa-procedures/
Everyone living in the Netherlands has got their own unique Citizens Service Number (burgerservicenummer, BSN). People born in the Netherlands are assigned a BSN at birth. New arrivals in the Netherlands will need to apply for their BSN. As a resident in the Netherlands you are obliged to have a BSN. You will need it, for example, if you want to be employed, open a bank account, make use of healthcare (including doctor or hospital), or apply for allowances.
How to get a BSN
To get a BSN, international students need to register with the municipality in which they live (for most students this will be Amsterdam municipality): www.iamsterdam.com/en/local/official-matters/registration/registration
Short-stay international students who will be resident in the Netherlands for four months or less should consult the registration procedures for short-stay migrants: http://www.iamsterdam.com/en/local/official-matters/registration/registering-for-a-short-stay
If you are a short-stay international student you not required to register with the municipality in which you live. You are, however, obliged to obtain a BSN number.
Long-stay international students who will be resident for more than four months are required to register with the municipality in which they are resident (in the case of Amsterdam, the district office is at Amsterdam City Hall). To register, please make an appointment at your municipal office (stadskantoor). You will need to bring along your visa.
You can also try just going along to the municipal office without an appointment – you may have to wait quite a long time to be processed because the queues can be long, but you’ll almost certainly be seen in the end.
Take along the following information/documents to your appointment at the municipal office:
- Address of your accommodation
- Passport / Proof of identity
- Residence document
- Birth certificate
- Rental agreement or letter of permission from occupant
- Proof of admission (received from the study programme)
There are no costs involved for registering and receiving a BSN from your local municipality.
You will find more information about the BSN at www.burgerservicenummer.nl (Dutch only). Or else call the municipal information number 14 020 (Monday to Friday, 08:00 to 18:00).
Opening a Dutch bank account couldn’t be simpler, and the sooner you do it, the more you’ll save in ATM fees (foreign banks can charge a fortune!). Also, lots of machines and businesses (such as grocery stores and ticket machines at train stations) do not except credit cards, especially the ones without chips. So make sure you open a bank account (with a Dutch debit card, or pinpas) as soon as possible – it will make your transition into living in the Netherlands a lot easier!
Take along the following information/documents to your appointment:
- Proof of registration with your study programme (sent to you by the study programme)
- Passport / Proof of identity
- Residence document
- Your Citizens Service Number (BSN)
- A Dutch mobile telephone number
12a Tips for opening a bank account
ABN AMRO bank may be the most attractive option for international students. The English-language version of the bank’s website (www.abnamro.nl) is comprehensive and straightforward, and all you need to get an account with the bank is a valid ID, your BSN (see here how to get your BSN), and a proof of residency such as the package you get from the municipality you register with. Under special circumstances ABN AMRO even let new customers who don’t yet have a BSN to open an account (as long as you have a Dutch address and you are going to be staying in the Netherlands for longer than a year). In this case you must inform the ABN AMRO as soon as you have your BSN. Please note that you will definitely be needing a BSN, so don’t delay in getting one.
ABN AMRO also offers insurance and package deals: https://www.abnamro.nl/en/personal/international-students/index.html
ING and Rabobank
Both ING and Rabobank are also popular banks in the Netherlands. There’s a comprehensive English-language version of the ING website (link at bottom left of the homepage) and offers a mobile banking app in English. The Rabobank website has a small English section and an English user guide for online banking. Most banks in the Netherlands will provide you with your own handy card reader for secure online banking. Both ING and Rabobank require a BSN to open a bank account.
We have good connections with Rabobank, and we recommend this bank.
If you’ve got any questions about your tuition fees, please contact Central Student Administration:
email@example.com / +31 (0)20 5277734
13a Paying for your physical examination
Some study programmes carry out physical examination of their students. For more information, please contact your study programme support officer secretary (onderwijsondersteuning)
13b Paying your fees for study materials
- The fees payable for each academic year for which you are registered total € 145.
- The full amount of € 145 for the upcoming academic year should be paid by bank transfer before 1 September.
Please transfer € 145 before 1 September to:
Account name: AHK Studentenadministratie
Please enter the following information in the payment details: ‘LMB’ and your full name
A DigiD is a secure digital signature you will need to interact with government agencies, for example. It takes the form of a unique, password-protected, personal code. You will need it to log in securely to government sites dealing with privacy-sensitive data, such as if you want to apply for a means-tested rent allowance (huurtoeslag) or healthcare allowance (zorgtoeslag). It is crucial that you get your DigiD as soon as possible. To apply for a DigiD, you will first need to get your BSN (see the BSN section in this guide for details) from your municipality. Apply for your DigiD online at https://www.digid.nl/index.php?id=1&L=1
To apply for a DigiD go to https://www.digid.nl/enand follow the instructions.
15a Health insurance
Everyone living long-term in the Netherlands (including EU citizens) is obliged by Dutch law to have Dutch National Healthcare insurance. If you have a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC), you may be entitled to exemption for a temporary period. See here for details.
A basic health insurance premium costs just under € 120 a month. The application procedure can be quite complex, so you might want click on the link below to go to a wizard that will make it easier for you.
This Dutch language website helps you compare what’s on offer from different health insurance companies: www.independer.nl/zorgverzekering/info/buitenland/buitenlandse-student.aspx
European Health Insurance
The European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) is issued free of charge and allows anyone who is insured or covered by a statutory social security scheme of the European Economic Area (EEA) countries and Switzerland to receive medical treatment in another member state if that treatment becomes necessary during their visit. How long the card is valid varies according to the issuing country.
If you are a short-stay international student and you haven’t got a valid EHIC, take out Student Health Insurance:
Oom Insurances: www.oominsurances.com
AON Student Insurances: www.aonstudentinsurance.com
- Pre-existing health conditions are never covered by a European Health Insurance Card;
- If you work in the Netherlands you are obliged to get Dutch National Healthcare insurance. See above for details.
When selecting an insurance package, check whether it includes physiotherapy, dentistry and psychological care, for example.
Additional insurance package deals are available that include liability insurance, household content insurance and legal aid.
Paid work in the Netherlands – Do you have a job, are you self-employed, or are you on a paid internship in the Netherlands?
If you answered ‘yes’ to any of the above, you are obliged to have Dutch National Healthcare insurance. If you meet certain conditions, you may be entitled to a partial refund of your insurance premium through the healthcare allowance (zorgtoeslag) scheme. For more nation, please contact the student counsellor.
Please note that if you are doing a paid internship, you are only obliged to take out Dutch health insurance if you earn the minimum wage.
Dutch National Healthcare insurance is offered by many private insurance companies, including AON and Zilveren Kruis. If you fail to take out healthcare insurance, you will be fined €360 by the Healthcare Institute (Zorginstituut).
15b Allowances for healthcare and other purposes
The Dutch government provides students with a healthcare allowance (zorgtoeslag) to support them pay their health insurance premium. Precisely how much you are entitled to depends on your income and how much money you have on your bank account. Usually, the monthly healthcare allowance payment is somewhere between € 70 and € 100, which will cover most of your health insurance premium. In order to qualify for this allowance you will need to satisfy the following criteria:
- You must be at least 18 years old
- You must have Dutch health insurance
- Your income must not exceed the threshold. This will be explained in detail when you apply for a healthcare allowance (zorgtoeslag)
- You must either have Dutch nationality or a valid residence permit
- Your total assets on your bank account must not exceed a certain amount.
- For more information, go to Belastingdienst.nl
15c Liability insurance
We advise all students to take out liability/third-party insurance (WA-verzekering). Students planning to travel are advised to take out travel insurance with worldwide coverage.