How to register
You need to register with your local municipality (gemeente) as soon as possible after arrival, which will also provide you with a BSN (burger service nummer/social security number). To guide you through this process, the Expat Center hosts the Welcome Center for residents in Twente, together with the municipality and immigration service (IND). This takes place every Monday by appointment at the Stadskantoor in Enschede. For regions outside of Twente (Salland, Kop van Overijssel), you can make an appointment directly with the municipality. Make sure to always bring your passport, proof of address and birth and marriage certificates (both with apostille or legalized). Furthermore, the exact documents you need, depends on your nationality or what kind of visa or work permit you have. Unfortunately, some municipality websites are in Dutch only, but you can always welcome to make an appointment by email (email@example.com) with the Expat Center East Netherlands for advice and assistance.
Burger Service Number (BSN)
If you are going to live and work in the Netherlands you will need a burger-servicenummer. This is the equivalent of a social security number. Everyone residing in the Netherlands must have a BSN; an exclusive personal number to arrange all your matters with the Dutch government. Moreover, it is also required in almost every formal step, like opening a bank account, starting a job, registering with the health care system and paying taxes. Obtaining a BSN is the first thing you want to arrange after arriving.
The DigiD (Digital Identification) is a personal ID number, which you need to obtain if you want to use governmental services online. You can request a login with your BSN-number. By logging in online with the DigiD you can identify yourself to the government, for example to submit your tax returns or register at a new address in case of moving. You can find more information on how to obtain a DigiD and how to use it, on the website of Expat Center East Netherlands.
Tip: Mijnoverheid.nl: The communication of the Dutch government is becoming more and more digitalised and DigiD is the key to all this information. This also means that most correspondence is digital and not via the post, for example taxes, benefits and registration of cars. This email will arrive in your inbox on the website Mijnoverheid.nl, where you can login with DigiD. Check the site regularly or change your settings so you get a notification when you received a new email.
Immigration and Naturalisation Service (IND)
In the Netherlands the Immigratie en Naturalisatie Dienst (IND) is the government organisation that takes care of everything regarding visa, residence and work permits. If you have the status of ‘knowledge migrant’, ‘scientific researcher’, ‘start-up visa’
or ‘orientation year, highly educated persons’ you can pick up your work and residence permit at the Welcome Center at the Stadskantoor (municipal office) in Enschede. You will receive an invitation or you can make an appointment through
Expat Center East Netherlands. During this appointment, it is also possible to have biometrics (photo and fingerprints) taken and have a residence/work notification sticker (Verblijfsaantekening / VA sticker) placed. More information about immigration procedures can be found on the website of the IND (ind.nl). Feel free to contact Expat Center East Netherlands if you have any questions regarding your documents.
Fun Fact: Almost all embassies in the Netherlands are located in The Hague, the political heart of the country. If you need to go to your embassy for documents or voting, bear in mind that you’ll spend all day travelling back and forth from the east of the Netherlands to The Hague. Taking a train to The Hague is a very good and fast alternative to the car due to the high parking costs in the city. Direct trains to The Hague depart on a regular basis from all main cities in Overijssel.
In case of moving to another city
When you are moving from one Dutch municipality to another, you must inform the municipality accordingly. You can do this on the website of your city, where you log in with your digital identity (DigiD). The new address will be registered in the BRP (central registration of persons) and passed on to all relevant governmental offices.
In case of moving out of the country
Going back to your home country or moving abroad? Report the move at your current municipality. You have to de-register from the BRP (central registration of persons). This can be done in person at your local city hall or, in some cases, online with a DigiD. If you have a residence pass, you should return this to the IND by post or bring it in person on a Monday to the Welcome Center in Enschede.
For details of the process; check the website of the Expat Center East Netherlands or contact us for more information.
Every person living and working in the Netherlands is legally obliged to subscribe to at least a basic health care insurance. You are free to choose any provider of health insurance, but you will need a BSN (Burger Service Nummer or social security number) before you can do so. The insurance must provide standard coverage including, for example, the cost of consulting a general practitioner, undergoing a test in a hospital or buying medication at a pharmacy. Additional insurance like dentist, physiotherapy, birth control and family planning is optional and provided by all health insurers.
Important: Even if you are insured back in your home country, taking a Dutch health insurance is mandatory in most cases. You have to arrange your health insurance immediately after your arrival. Once you acquire your health insurance policy, the company (by Dutch law) automatically starts charging the insurance costs from the day you received your residence permit, and not from the day you acquire your insurance policy. In this way you are insured from the first day of arrival.
Dutch Health Care System
The Dutch patient has a lot of freedom in choosing his own healthcare. A good website to find a GP, midwife, dentist and other services is zorgkaartnederland.nl, which also gives reviews. The website is in Dutch, but easy to understand; type in your city of residence and narrow the search by profession (‘beroep’).
General practitioners (GP)/family doctors or ‘huisartsen’ play an essential role in the Dutch healthcare system. They are your first point of call receiving medical treatments of any kind. When you’ve arrived in the Netherlands you need to choose a GP from your area or neighbourhood and register yourself. In case of illness or for common consultations you must call your GP first. In some cases your GP might refer you to a specialist in the hospital.
Tip: In case of illness or accidents that are not life threatening (for example bruises, cuts or medium fevers) you can always call your GP for an emergency appointment. At night and weekends GP’s are taking shifts at the ‘huisartsenpost’ (GP Centre). Find the number of your local huisartsenpost and call for advice or last minute consults
Finding a dentist is much like finding a GP, but doesn’t need to be in your neighbourhood. After registration, the dentist will contact you for a check-up twice a year. Most dentists will discuss the treatment and costs before they treat you. Be aware of your level of insurance. Uninsured treatments can lead to high costs you have to pay yourself
When you are pregnant, your first check will be with your GP/family doctor (huisarts). Depending on your situation, you can have your follow up checks and ultrasonography with a midwife (verloskundige) or gynaecologist in the hospital. You can choose you own midwife, ask your GP for advice. Gynaecologists are mostly appointed.
Pharmacy and drug store
In the Netherlands medicines are not as freely available as in other countries. Most medicines can only be purchased with a prescription at a pharmacy (apotheek). Your GP or specialist at the hospital will send the prescription to the pharmacy that is usually in the same building or, in case of a GP, in your neighbourhood. The drugstore (drogist) is a more general shop to buy medicines that don’t need a prescription and items for personal care. Drug stores that are found in almost every city are Etos, Kruidvat and Trekpleister. Also supermarkets often sell basic medicines.
Fun Fact: The Netherlands is one of the only Western countries where home deliveries are possible. More than half of the Dutch women prefer to give birth at home instead of in the hospital. Almost third of the babies are delivered at home. Interested? Ask your midwife about the possibilities and risks.