Getting a Bank Account in The Netherlands

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You are a master of the Netherlands. You’ve found somewhere to stay and you’ve got your BSN number (if not read this guide on finding somewhere to live and/or this one on getting your BSN number). You’ve practically broken the Catch-22 of coming to the Netherlands (Housing needs a bank account, a bank account needs BSN number, getting a bank account needs housing). Now all you’ve got to do is convince someone to give you a bank account. But this is a makkie (=piece of cake) for the likes of you. You’re practically the Harry Potter of the Netherlands. So first you’re going to want to choose a bank account provider.

The main ones are:

ABN Amro ( )
ING Bank ( )
Rabobank ( )
SNS Bank ( )

All have varying degrees of English language services. ABN Amro is particularly popular with expats as everything is available in English. SNS Bank is entirely in Dutch. You can expect to pay a small monthly fee for services and for provision of extra services such as a credit card. Most transactions in the Netherlands are done using the pin number for your debit card (known as “pinnen”), although contactless payments are becoming increasingly popular. Ordering online is often done through a system called iDeal, which is essentially a simple system of bank transfer. Services and Utilities are often taken by something similar to direct debit, using your bank account’s IBAN number. (as a temporary solution to pay these you can use your foreign account’s IBAN number. But this didn’t work for me for Ziggo Internet, although their systems accepted it they couldn’t charge it until I changed it for a local one). You do not need a credit card for daily life in the Netherlands. You may consider getting one if you regularly book flights or order stuff from overseas. Cheques (checks) are not used in the Netherlands, most banks charge exorbitantly for processing them.

To open an account, walk into a branch. Normally you will need the following to get an account:

Mostly you will need:


  • Work contract. You do not, however, need a work contract to get an account. If you’re self employed you will not be able to provide this. If they request it, just go to another branch or another bank.

It’s also useful to have some actual money to put in it 🙂

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