Setting up your life in Amsterdam, expert help from a fellow expat!




When I first arrived in Amsterdam, the order in which I had to complete the essentials as a new resident was unclear and confusing. So what I have learned is there are 5 must dos that need to be actioned when you first arrive in Amsterdam and more importantly the order in which to take action!

1) Register with the local municipality (Gemeente)
The very first thing to do when arriving into the Netherlands is to register with the local municipality. This is imperative as you will receive your registration document and BSN (Burger Service Nummer), which is a citizen social service number. This is your unique social-fiscal number for finance purposes, granting your employer the ability to properly pay you.

When: within the first 3 days of arriving
What to bring:
-valid passport or ID
-new address details (if you don’t have a permanent address straight away, use your company one if they allow you to or your temp address details. However as soon as know you new address you must inform the Gemeente straight away. A fine can be imposed if they have incorrect address details from you.)
-a copy of your employment contract
-a Birth Certificate in English, German, Dutch or French (or a translation by a sworn translator)

TIP: No appointment necessary! Call the City of Amsterdam’s information helpline at +31(0)20 624 1111 if you need more information.

Once you have registered and have your BSN, you can then do the following:

2) Open a Dutch bank account
You will need to open a Dutch bank to allow you to be able to pay for your apartment, rent and utilities etc.

What to bring:
-a valid passport or an identity card and/or residence permit
-your BSN number

TIP: The three major banks in the Netherlands are ABN AMRO, Rabobank andING Bank.

 3) Take out valid health insurance cover
In The Netherlands it is compulsory to take out health insurance with a private insurance company. All private health insurance companies are legally obliged to accept everyone on a standard package regardless of age, gender or health.


  • All policy-holders needing treatment have to pay an “own risk” currently standing at €385 per year in 2016. (This can however be paid over 12 months).
  • Check out (in English) for a comparison of all health providers.
  • You can only change your health insurance policy once a year (in November-December)                                     

4)  Register with a doctor and dentist
It is important to register with both a doctor (huisarts) or dentist (tandarts) as they are the first port of call if you have health problems. They are based in all local neighbourhoods and operate on an appointment basis.

What to bring:
-a valid passport
-your BSN number
-Health Insurance policy

TIP: You can click here to begin searching for a doctor or dentist.

5) Converting your driving license to a Dutch license (if necessary and applicable)
For those Expats who need to drive a car in The Netherlands, you will need to transfer your current license if you plan on staying in the country long term.

When: You have six months from date of entry into the Netherlands to transfer your license.

For more information and conditions for exchanging your license to a Dutch one please check out this link.

TIP: Make sure your current license is valid before you transfer it otherwise you will have to take your test/exams again!

I hope you find this simple guide helpful, the information is intended for expats coming from EU/EEA and Swiss Nationals and therefore not necessarily needing a residence permit or requiring a work permit. If you are a non EU/EEA expat, please use this link to find more specific information.

I would love to hear from you if you have any comments or would like to add any information to this list for your fellow expats.

By Paolo Natali
Business Development and Account Manager at Expat Housing Network