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10 things to do when you arrive in The Netherlands: Your arrival checklist!

Last updated 4 months ago by Michael Darmanin

Being an expat can be challenging, especially in the Netherlands since there are a ton of regulations to consider along with a list of practical things to keep in check. However, this checklist will help you smoothen out your road to settling in the Dutch world without being overwhelmed. Once you are up to date on everything you need to know, it won’t be long before you start to enjoy this beautiful land just like a local!

1. Find a place you can call home

Upon your arrival in the Netherlands, you would need a place to stay. Amsterdam Central Station is probably not the best bet. So make sure that you start to look to rent a place before your arrival. However, finding a place to stay in the Netherlands can be a bit like a game of cat and mouse! In case, you are not fortunate enough to secure a place within time, you can always stay temporarily at a hotel or rent a short stay apartment while you work on finding a long term place to live.

2. Register at your local Gemeente and get your BSN

Everyone planning to stay in the Netherlands for longer than a period of 4 months needs to register with their nearest city hall. If you are living in Amsterdam, you can book your appointment online at amsterdam.nl (Dutch) or call 14020. However, for other cities you should book online at the relevant city civil affairs website. Don’t forget to bring along your passport/ID, a document showing that you have the right to live in the Netherlands along with your house owner’s ID, rental contract or a letter of permission to live at their place. In some cases you might also be required to show a notarized copy of your birth certificate. Upon showing all the required documents, you will be registered at the address and will be issued a BSN (Burger Service Number) on the spot.

Utrecht Town Hall building. Photo by Martin Woortman on Unsplash.
Utrecht Town Hall building. Photo by Martin Woortman on Unsplash.

3. Get a DigiD

This is not mandatory but the sooner you get it the better it is for you. DigiD is your digital identity and will help you do most of the official work like applying for a tax exemption, registering with the city hall and getting healthcare benefits etc. online. Without a DigiD you cannot do anything online. It is super easy to set up. Once you are done setting it up, you will receive a confirmation code via mail.

4. Open a Dutch bank account

Getting a Dutch bank account is extremely important! There are several places that won’t accept a Mastercard or Visa including grocery shops such as Albert Hejin. Having a Dutch bank account is incredibly convenient as almost everywhere in the Netherlands accept card payments. Additionally, you can even tikkie anyone (requesting a payment). All you would need is your passport, ID card, proof of residency, BSN and enrollment letter (if you are a student) to set up your Dutch bank account.

5. Get a health insurance

This is a legal requirement for everyone over the age of 18. If you are from the EU, then you might be exempted from purchasing a Dutch health insurance as your EU insurance might cover. However, you should still check with the Dutch health insurance policy. The basic insurance package starts from €110 per month, which covers doctor visits, emergencies, rehabilitation and medication. The Dutch insurance company will require your BSN, proof of residency and bank account details.

6. Register with a doctor

Once you arrive in the Netherlands, you would need to register with a GP (general physician) in your area. Check out with your friends or neighbors for recommendations. At times GPs are not taking new patients so you need to check that beforehand.

7. Get a Dutch Sim card

Getting a Dutch Sim card is pretty easy and relatively cheap. There are several network providers in the country such as Lebara, Lyca, T mobile, Verizon, KPN etc. The mobile packages starts as low as €10 per month! Getting a Dutch sim card is very important as you would need it to set up several accounts including your DigiD.

8. Get an OV Chipkaart

Biking on those rainy days isn’t that great and you might be tempted to skip your two wheels to hop on that tram. The Ov chipkaart is a payment method for the Dutch public transport system. Don’t be surprised when you find out that all you need in just one OV chipkaart to access every public transport in the Netherlands! There are two types of cards; anonymous ( can be purchased at train stations or supermarkets) and personalized ( needs to be ordered online). The personalized OV Chipkaart contains your personal details and in case you lose it, you can always get a refund for your credit on the card.

9. Buy or rent a bicycle

Girl parking her bicycle in the center of Utrecht. Cycling has been a sustainable method of transport in The Netherlands for centuries. Photo by Ronan Kruithof on Unsplash
Girl parking her bicycle in the center of Utrecht. Cycling has been a sustainable method of transport in The Netherlands for centuries. Photo by Ronan Kruithof on Unsplash

A quick fact: life in the Netherlands happens on two wheels! Renting a bicycle might sound as the most touristy thing to do, however, it is one of the most convenient and cheapest ways to travel around the Netherlands. If you are planning to stay in the Netherlands for longer, the best option is to buy a bicycle. A basic bike would cost around 100 euros (second hand). Your best bet is to search online sites as well as Facebook marketplace for cheap bikes. You will also find as many bike shops in the Netherlands as there are Starbucks in the U.S! Thus, your perfect bike for your stay is just a scroll or stroll away from you!

10. Learn to appreciate Dutch weather, regardless of what it throws at you!

Whether you are being drenched in rain or trying to push your bike forward against the strong gusty winds, you must not complain! Always be grateful to that overcast sky. The way Dutchies carry out their routine tasks without being bothered by the weather, might leave you wandering if these people are oblivious to terrible weather? You will be surprised to see how emotionally resilient Dutchies are to those grey skies, which would leave anyone feeling depressed. Well, it won’t be wrong to say that unless you are a plant, you won’t be able refrain from cursing the weather! However, it won’t be long before you start to see good in those endlessly long grey days. In case depression still takes a toll on your mental health, you can always book a cheap air ticket and head South of the Europe to get some sun!

Moving to the Netherlands might seem like an overwhelming experience. However, if you do your research and prioritize tasks well, it might turn out to be one of the best decisions of your life! With all those mesmerizing tulips, breath taking sceneries, historic museums, and overall a refreshing vibe, the Netherlands is an absolute beauty.

Alina Nabeel
Alina Nabeel
Alina Nabeel is a writer, content creator and digital marketer. Born and raised in Pakistan, she currently works in The Hague, Netherlands where she is enrolled in a double major bachelor’s degree. She is pursuing her education in International Business Management and Media Communications at Webster University. A writer by day and a reader by night, she is passionate to express her individuality whilst inspiring others by her content. The days when she isn’t reading or writing, she is probably satisfying her inner wanderlust or just staying in her pajamas, binge watching Netflix while hogging on some snacks!


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