The first few months of expat life are known to be as the hardest ones. This is simply because you need to learn how to live in a different country where rules and regulations are most likely to be different from yours. There is also the administrative part for which you are required to sign up, register etc… at several different places, and deal with endless amount of work (paper or digital).
To be able to help out my fellow expat friends, I gathered the most important steps. In case moving to the Netherlands is at the top of your 2017 New Year’s Resolution list, below article will probably come handy!
Work & Residence Permit:
There are several purposes applying for residence in the Netherlands.Perhaps you are moving to live with your significant other, or to study. As different purposes have very different procedures, it is the best to check IND website to see what is applicable for you.
I had the MVV process (TEV procedure) in which my sponsor made the application while I was still living abroad, and I picked up the entry visa from the Dutch consulate before my arrival. After I registered, I picked up my residency card (which at the same time allows me to work as well) from Expat Center. If you are coming as a highly skilled migrant, then you can do the same.
Registration at the local municipality:
If your plan is to stay more than 4 months in the Netherlands, then you must register at Gemeente. This is a must thing to do and better to schedule your appointment as early as possible, as you get your BSN (Burgerservicenummer) number only after that. Consider BSN as master-key that will take you to your sweet life in the Netherlands. Once you have your BSN, then you can literally do wild things such as opening a bank account, or getting health insurance. After your arrival, you have 3 months until you are registered at a permanent address.
You need following documents during your appointment: Valid passport or ID card, residence permit, rental contract, copy of your birth certificate (if applicable).
Sometimes you may need to wait for more than several weeks for your appointment at Gemeente. If you urgently need your BSN, you can do it via Expat Center. Keep in mind that it is only applicable for certain migration types and there is a small fee to pay.
Health insurance is simply a must-have if you are living in the Netherlands for long-term. Once you have your BSN, do not lose any time to find your dream package, or at least make sure to go for a basic package as fast as possible (basisverzekering). Assuming you would not have much clue which company or package to go for, Independer.nl is a good site where you can make comparisons between different options.
To handle your finances, you will need a Dutch bank account. As far as I experienced myself, there are not so many differences between big and well-known Dutch banks. However if language barrier is a big deal for you, keep in mind that ABN AMRO has a branch dedicated to expats, and a mobile app that serves in English. Yet you would also just be fine with another bank as well.
You need following documents to open a bank account: BSN number, passport or ID card, proof of address, residency permit.
Once you get your debit card, you can start enjoying pinning around day and night.
Depending on the country of issue, you are likely to be able to use your driving license for a certain period of time. If you are planning to stay for a long time, it is better to exchange your license with a Dutch one. If you are a citizen of a European country, you will probably be able to use your license issued by your home country until it expires. Non-European expats should exchange their license within the first six months period. But there are also different procedures depending on your home country, migration status etc… so check well if you need to take the exam or can simply exhange the old one.
Registration with a General Practitioner:
Once you have your health insurance, then you should register with a general practitioner. You can check Ik zoek een huisarts to search for a local doctor in your area. If you wish to see a specialist, you will need a referral from your general practitioner first. You will need this referral also to show your health insurance company.
DigiD, which stands for Digital Identification, is sort of an online ID that allows you to access several services and government websites in the Netherlands. DigiD is connected to your BSN so once you receive it, you can apply for your DigiD right away. You need your DigiD so that you can arrange your administrative stuff online, which includes doing your taxes, checking your health insurance and many more.
Getting around in the Netherlands will never be a problem. The most convenient local way is to get around by bike. Nevertheless for the times when you will need public transportation, getting a personalised OV-chipkaart is the best option, which you can do in few simple steps. Remember, you always need to check in and check out. It is also very handy to use 9292 and Reisplanner apps (or websites) to check certain routes or schedules.
Do you have questions? Or details regarding certain topic? Feel free to send your questions via comment part or contact me form.