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Moving to The Netherlands: an easy guide to getting set up

Updated: Nov 8, 2023

the author of the article

Author: Johanna Gerike-Roberts

Date of publication: 18/05/2022

Don’t get caught out by the strange Dutch rules! Here are 10 tasks that should be on your to-do list.

One of the scariest things you can do in life is moving to another country, especially when you’re alone. I know the feeling, I moved to the Netherlands on my own at the age of 18 and started my life here. There are many things you need to do when you arrive like getting a bank account, a phone number and a travel card but the problem is, what order to do it in.

Follow this step-by-step guide to make your move as easy as possible!

DigiD logo

Step 1: Registering with the local authorities (Gemeente)

The first step you need to take is to register. The gemeente requires you to register within the first 5 days of living in the Netherlands. What to take with you:

  • Rental contract

  • Passport

  • Residence permit (if outside the EU)

  • Birth certificate

You will need to make an appointment and bring all the required documents above. The gemeente will then issue you a BSN number which you can look at as your identity number much like a national insurance number in the UK. You must take this step first as you cannot do any of the following steps without your BSN number, it will be sent to you within a week.

The following link will give you the contact details for each region:

Step 2: Download the 9292 app

This is the app that will help you understand the transport system. It has all the trains, trams, ferries and buses on it with live arrival times. It will tell you what time, location/ platform to go to and even presents you with a map of how to get there. You can download it on any Apple or Android device and is essential for any new EXPAT moving to the Netherlands.

Step 3: Create a DigiD

Once you have received your BSN number, you can request a DigiD, this is basically a digital identity that stores all your information on from doctor’s records to student loans to past houses. To get health insurance allowance, student allowance or anything government related, you will need to login with a DigiD.

You can apply using this link:

Step 4: Get a Dutch phone number

Most people in the Netherlands communicate only via WhatsApp however for many Dutch websites and services, you must have a +31 number in order to use them. I would personally recommend BEN NEDERLAND, I been with them for years without problems, they have a quick and easy app and above all they don’t let you go into overdraft, you must pay for added minutes/data.

Click here for the link to BEN NEDERLAND:

DUO logo

Step 5: Setting up a Dutch bank account

When I first moved to the Netherlands, I only had VISA cards, most supermarkets and many other online Dutch stores will not take VISA. Therefore, it is easiest for you to open a Dutch bank account, the top two I would recommend are ABN Amero which also offers you very cheap 3rd liability insurance for as low as 6 euros a month which are mandatory to have and Rabobank. When paying for many things online the Dutch payment system is IDEAL, you then select your bank and pay with a simple passcode. When you have your bank account you must then sign up to TIKKIE, most restaurants in the Netherlands will not split the bill, so the Dutch use TIKKIE which sends a link via WhatsApp which they can click on and pay instantly with a code. Honestly, I can’t put enough stress on how much easier this will make your life.

Click here for the link to join ABN Amero:

Step 6: Get your personal OV chipcard

Once you have your BSN number and your Dutch bank account, you should get an OV chipcard. It is exactly like an oyster card in London which you basically use for all transport. For trains, trams and buses you must remember to check in AND out otherwise you will end up with a hefty 20 euro fine or more.

Get your personal OV chipcard here:

Step 7: Apply for health insurance and the allowance

In the Netherlands, everyone is required to have basic health insurance. You can find and compare health insurances use Independer which will filter what is the best fit for you. I can recommend Ditzo, which is 109 euros a month. If you are a student and are earning under a certain amount of money, make sure you also apply to get the healthcare allowance called the zorgtoeslag if you work part time and you are an EU citizen.

Click here to compare health insurances:

Click here to see if you are eligible for the health allowance:

two tickets

Step 8: Register at a Doctors

In the Netherlands, you can only register at a certain GP that is not more than 2km from your house in case of emergency. Therefore you must find a GP in your area and fill in the registration form.

Click here to find a Doctor in your area:

Step 9: Student loans

This was the most time consuming and hardest part for my setup in the Netherlands. If you are an EU citizen and work 56 hours a month OR your parents are working in the Netherlands, you are entitled to the student loan that the Dutch citizens get. You will need to provide:

  • Working contract signed by both parties

  • Pay slips for the last 3 months

  • Matching bank statements

  • Proof of health insurance

If you are doing a mandatory internship, you can also get the student loan if you send:

  • Proof of 56 hours worked the previous month

  • Letter from University stating a mandatory internship

  • Proof of being a full-time student during this internship

  • Contract of internship

Click here to apply for a student loan:

If you don’t make the hours:

What they try to keep secret is if you cannot work for example due to an illness such as corona, you can get a letter from your employer stating your illness and your loan will still be granted.

two phone with information

Student travel product:

In the Netherlands you can apply for the student travel product, you can pick to either travel during weekdays for free or during the weekend. The rest of the time you can travel with a 40% discount. Once the travel product is granted you will have to upload it onto your OV chipcard at the yellow travel terminals.


  • The loan is granted to you for 3 months, you will then be asked to send proof of those past 3 months. If you cannot provide proof, you will have to pay back any month you cannot provide proof for.

  • During the phase of your documents being reviewed after the 3 months, the travel product is not valid, you will have to remove it from your OV chipcard. If you do not do this you will be fined 70 euros, a second time will be 140.

  • DUO takes 8 weeks to review documents, therefore you must remember that one month you may not get your loan and then get double the next month when it is approved.

  • If you do not work 56 hours a month, you are still entitled to a tuition fee loan.

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