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When you’ve made the decision to study in the Netherlands, it’s important to start all necessary preparations. What do you need to prepare before you travel down to Holland? And what needs to be arranged upon arrival? You can find a clear overview on this page to help you get started!

Arrangements from your home country

Before you can travel to the Netherlands and start your study programme, you’ll need to make sure that:

  • You’ve successfully applied for a Dutch study programme at an educational institution in the Netherlands. Therefore, you need to be sufficiently qualified. Your educational institution will contact Nuffic (National Academic Recognition Information Centre) to evaluate your diploma(s). Furthermore, there are language requirements. You need to read, speak and write well in English. To prove proficiency you can submit an IELTS or TOEFL test. Contact your educational institution for more information. You can apply for your study programme at Studielink.nl. The deadlines for application are the 1st of may (study programmes without numerus fixus) or the 15th of January (with numerus fixus).
  • Check the necessity of visa & permits: go to our page student visa & permits for more information.
  • Timely start preparations to find a place to live: check out our page Student housing for more detailed information.

Arrangements upon arrival in the Netherlands

You’ve just arrived in the Netherlands. To get you started we’ve created an overview of important preparations to take upon arrival. In this article, you will find practical information on for example municipality registration, opening a bank account, DigiD registration and taking out healthcare insurance. Furthermore, the Dutch transportation system, language and integration tips will be explained.

Municipality registration

Upon arrival in the Netherlands it’s important to register with your local municipality (gemeente). If you are planning to stay for at least 4 months in the Netherlands, you have 5 days to go to your local town hall to register. What do you need?

  • Your passport or identity card (EU students) and your new address
  • Residence permit and enrolment at your university (non-EU students)

By registering you will get a unique Citizen Service Number (BSN) and will be enlisted in the Register of Non-Residents (RNI). Basically, it’s an identification number you need for many administrative procedures and applications. For example, if you want to start working in the Netherlands, open a bank account, take out (healthcare) insurance or apply for benefits & allowances. Moreover, the BSN-number prevents identity theft.

Opening a Dutch bank account

To be able to pay your expenses and, in case you’re working in the Netherlands, receive your salary you’ll need to open a bank account. People in the Netherlands usually pay their daily expenses using cash (€) or a debit card (PIN). Although many shops, bars, restaurants and hotels accept creditcards, many supermarkets only accept payment by debit card or cash. The use of cheques is also very uncommon.

To open a Dutch bank account, you can visit a bank nearby in your area or open an account online. There are many options to choose from. To name a few: ING bank, Rabobank, ABN AMRO or SNS Bank. In order to open the bank account, you’ll need to bring the following documents:

  • Your ID (identity card or passport)
  • The BSN (Citizen Service Number)
  • Your address (proven by for example your rental contract)
  • If applies, your residence permit

Another option to consider is digital banking, this saves you the hassle of visiting a bank and using only online services you might be able to save on the fees.

DigiD registration

The DigiD serves as your official online identification and is linked to your personal Citizen Service Number. It plays an important role in doing your online Dutch administration. As a student you’ll gain access to different services and governmental websites, for example, to apply for benefits or allowances, take out or change your Dutch healthcare insurance or arrange matters with the Dutch tax office or your local municipality.

To apply for a DigiD you can fill out the DigiD application form on the official website. You’ll be guided through the following steps:

  1. Fill out your personal information: Citizen Service Number, date of birth, postal code, house number and suffix
  2. Choose if you would like to use the SMS authentication: this provides extra security to your account and helps to easily retrieve your password
  3. Choose your username and password
  4. Your personal information will be validated, you’ll receive a text message validation as well as an email validation. Last but not least, within 5 working days you’ll receive a letter on the provided address with an activation code. You have a maximum of 20 days to activate your DigiD
  5. Activate your DigiD on the activation page of their official website

The Digid is personal and private and gives access to personal (financial) information, be careful and keep your personal information such as username and password secret.

Take out Dutch healthcare insurance

Once you are above the age of 18 years old and live and/or work in the Netherlands, you are obliged to take out Dutch healthcare insurance. Rule of thumb is that in case you only study in the Netherlands and your stay is temporary, you can keep your home country insurance or contract private healthcare insurance. If you also work or do a paid internship, you are obliged to take out Dutch health insurance.

For more information you can check out our page on Dutch healthcare insurance

Compare home insurances to insure your belongings

When you rent a student room or apartment, you’ll probably have many valuable belongings with you. For example, your smartphone, tablet, laptop, musical instrument or other electrical devices. And maybe you invest in some new stuff as well, such as a bike or new furniture. To protect these valuable belongings against the risk of (water and fire) damage and burglary & theft you can take out an ‘inboedelverzekering’, home or household insurance. These insurances already come at around €1,- a month so don’t have to be very expensive.

You can compare home insurances or ‘inboedelverzekeringen’ on our page Top 5 student home insurances

Transport in the Netherlands

One of the main methods of transport in the Netherlands are bicycles. Why are bikes so popular? Well, the Netherlands created an incredible bike infrastructure throughout the country and the landscapes are very flat. Furthermore, it’s free and gives you pretty fast and direct access to many places. Apart from the bike, there are several other ways of getting around in your city.

Public transport in the Netherlands include buses, trains, trams and the subway. Public transport is convenient for long-distance trips, bad weather or in case you carry a lot of luggage. The train network consists of a great connection between Dutch cities and towns, whereas buses, trams and metro help you getting around in the direct region of your city or town. To plan your trips, you can use the apps 9292 (buses, trams and metro) and NS (trains).

Although you can buy a single ticket for the train, tram, metro or bus ride, Dutch public transport uses an OV chip card. With this card, which you charge with money, you can scan and pay (check-in and check-out) on all public transport. You can obtain an anonymous or personal OV-chipkaart. As a student, you can apply for a student travel product through DUO. You can choose a weekend of week plan, which allows you to travel for free or with a discount.

More information on the student travel product

Dutch language and integration

The official language in the Netherlands is Dutch. But don’t worry, you don’t have to learn Dutch to be able to communicate with the majority of society. The English Proficiency Index investigated that 9 out of 10 Dutch people speak English. Nevertheless, in case you’re interested in learning Dutch, you can sign up for a language course at your university, a language institute or a language school.

Although learning Dutch will obviously help the integration process, the Netherlands is considered a very international society. This is rooted in international trade where different large Dutch cities during the 17th century turned into important trading hubs. Therefore, a mixture of nationalities can be found, especially in larger cities. As a result, the people are tolerant and open towards other believes, sexual orientation, political views, religions and cultures. In the interaction it is common to speak your mind, Dutch people tend to be very direct in their communication. You might have to get used to that. To connect with locals, apart from other international students, you can join different social activities, such as joining a local sports club, music school or participating in events and meetups.