Registering in the Netherlands as an EU citizen

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Hurrah! You’ve accomplished the practically impossible and found somewhere to live in the Netherlands. Despite the fact that you’re clearly of superior intellect, have advanced negotiation skills, and are now familiar with just about every neighbourhood in your chosen location, the government doesn’t come to you to congratulate you – you have to go to them and register (By the way, If you’ve not found somewhere to live yet then you’re not quite awesome enough to register yet. Don’t worry! I’ll help you, take a look at the guide here.).

As an EU citizen, this process is, in relative terms, pretty simple. You’ve navigated the Dutch housing market, so this’ll be a piece of cake for you. Registering is a requirement if you’re intending to stay 4 months or more. We all know that four months isn’t long enough for anybody to satiate their stroopwafel addiction, so I’m presuming we’re all planning on staying longer than that! Once you’ve registered you’ll get a social security number (known as a BSN number). I like to refer to it as the magic number, as it’s the key to being able to do other things that are essential to life (like getting a bank account, and working).

Registration is free (savour that word, you won’t be seeing much of it elsewhere!) and is done at the town hall of the municipality where you’re going to be living. So, for example, for me that’s Den Haag Town Hall. If you’re not living in the world’s best city, then I’m afraid you’ll have to do a bit of Googling to find your one. Each member of the family needs to register (and children need to be accompanied by at least one parent). You need to schedule an appointment for an “Eerste vestiging van uit EU/EER-land”. For me there was a three week time before I could get an appointment, so I’d advise scheduling an appointment for after your move in date as soon as you know where you’ll be living. (i.e. do it in advance. As the sooner you get a BSN number, the sooner you get a bank account to pay your household expenses – internet/utilities, etc).

Turn up to your appointment. In Den Haag I had to confirm my arrival on a machine standing in the lobby and wait (other cities will obviously vary). At some point you’re called forward to meet a civil servant who is super excited and keen to process your paperwork in a friendly, helpful and outgoing manner for you (warning: sarcasm may be present in the previous sentence 🙂 ).

You need to bring with you:

  • A form of identification. This basically means your passport (hint here: it’s compulsory for everyone over 14 to carry a valid form of identification at all times. If you fail to show some ID then they will schedule for Zwarte Piet to put you in his sack and drag you off to Spain as a punishment the next time Sinterklaas comes to visit.)
  • Proof that you have somewhere to stay. e.g. a rental contract, a mortgage deed, or if you’re subletting or lodging then you’ll want to take a look here: https://www.denhaag.nl/en/moving-and-immigration/proof-of-occupancy.htm for the stack of paperwork and the necessary form that you’ll need 🙂 Hint: a tent does not count as somewhere to stay, despite the fact that the TV has advertisements that suggest you can get pizza delivered to one.
  • A “recently issued” birth certificate. I have no idea what they mean by “recently issued” as I presume most of us got ours at least a couple of decades ago. I applied for an official copy from the UK, which was accepted at the appointment. (Get yours here: https://www.gov.uk/order-copy-birth-death-marriage-certificate . This is not a sponsored link and I get no commission :-)).
  • If applicable, a marriage certificate.

If your documents are not in French, German, Dutch, or English, then you will need to get them translated by a certified translator. Note: that if they’re not in Dutch they still have the right to ask for a Dutch translation if they want.

It is somewhat questionable when and whether a document needs to be apostilled or not. My advice would be to get them apostilled anyway.  (UK people look here: https://www.gov.uk/get-document-legalised ).

After scowling at your documents for a disproportionate amount of time and taking some copies, the civil servant will tap on their computer a few times. Just when you think they’re about to say “Computer says Noooo”, it prints you out a sheet of paper. Congratulations – you’re officially here. Somewhere on this bit of paper will be your BSN number. This is your ticket to a normal life in the Netherlands. Doorways are now open to you and the world is your oyster!

But for your next task you’re going to want to: Open a Bank Account in the Netherlands.


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