The BSN is a must-have number for all residents in the Netherlands. Even non-residents benefit from getting a BSN when living in the country.
In this guide, we compiled all the basics about a BSN Number, its benefits and uses, the registration process to get a BSN, and much more.
Our BSN Number guide will cover the following:
What is a BSN Number?
- Why do you need a BSN Number?
- How to apply for a BSN Number?
- Where can I find my BSN Number?
- Who needs a BSN Number?
- Using the BSN to get a DigiD
- When should I deregister?
What Is A BSN Number?
Simply put, BSN, written in Dutch as Burgerservicenummer, is a unique, personalised eight- or nine-digit citizen service number.
Just like the Social Security Number (SSN) is a unique identification number for every individual in the United States, the BSN is an all-around identification number essential for all individuals living and studying in the Netherlands. You will need to have your BSN at hand in most public, financial, and official interactions.
Luckily, the BSN acts as an all-in-one social security, tax, and national identification number in the Netherlands, so one less card to carry in your wallet and three fewer numbers to remember.
The municipalities record every individual’s BSN and other personal data and store it in a database called The Dutch Personal National Register (written in Dutch as Basisregistratie Personen or BRP).
Some of the personal information saved in the BRP includes:
- Full name
- Parent names, gender, and BSN numbers
- Nationality and immigration status
- Identity documents
- The address of your place of residence
- Basic information about your spouse or legal partner
- Basic information about your children,
- Basic information about your legal guardians (for minors)
- Your right to vote
Why Do You Need A BSN Number?
Could you live in the Netherlands without a BSN? You can; however, it will take a lot of work as the BSN is necessary for practically all administrative and financial procedures with government institutions in the Netherlands.
Here are some of the services that you need a BSN for:
- Education - Schools store the child’s BSN in their records, referring to it as the personal identification number (PGN) or education number. International students who will study in the Netherlands for more than four months are required to register in the BRP and get a citizen service number.
- Healthcare - The state medical system and health insurance companies use the citizen service number to identify patients before providing care. Healthcare insurers also need your burgerservicenummer to provide you with healthcare benefits.
- Child Care benefit - Childcare organisations record both the parent/guardian’s BSN as well as the child’s, and share it with the Benefits Office of the Tax and Customs Administration. This office cross-checks the number of childcare hours you report against the hours in the childcare organisation’s records.
- Housing benefit - You should provide your BSN in your application to claim housing benefits.
- Student benefit - much like any other benefit, you also need a BSN number to apply for student finance.
- Job & Salary- The BSN is required if you are looking for work, and your payslip will display the BSN. Your employer will also use it to submit your personal tax information to the tax authority.
- Voting in Dutch elections - A BSN number is one of the documents needed to prove your identity as an EU citizen to get a residence permit and register as a voter.
- Opening a Dutch bank account - One of the standard documents needed to open a personal or business banking account in a Dutch bank is the BSN Number. Even if you are looking to open an account for your child, you should provide your citizen service number.
- Getting a DigiD - In order to get a DigiD, which is used in most of your interactions with the government, you first need a BSN number.
Other government interactions that require a BSN include receiving a pension, paying your taxes, getting a driving licence, obtaining a mortgage or loan, starting a business, studying at a Dutch school or university, or buying a home in the country.
How To Apply For A BSN Number?
Now that you know what a BSN number is and the benefits of having one, you also need to know how to get a BSN. Applying for a BSN is one of the first things you should do when you arrive in the Netherlands.
There are many ways to get a BSN. So let’s see how to get one based on your stay, your reason for getting one, etc.
BSN via Regular Municipality
We first need to take a look at the BSN number registration process. You need to head to your nearest municipality (a gemeente). They will register you, and you will automatically receive a BSN number in a few days. There are roughly 388 local municipalities in the Netherlands. Individuals planning on staying for more than four months should preferably register within five days of your arrival.
The documentation required to get a BSN differs slightly for EU and non-EU residents.
- An EU citizen can get a BSN by showing valid proof of identity, like a passport or ID card (a driver’s licence is not accepted) and proof of address. It is important that you follow this process if you’re planning on staying in the Netherlands for more than three months.
- A non-EU resident has to submit an application for a residence permit and documents like proof of university enrollment for students or employment contracts for other individuals. For non-EU residents, your BSN number registered with the municipality will be provisional. You initially receive a pre-registration letter (BvB) from the Immigration and Naturalisation Service (IND). After you apply for your residence permit, your registration and BSN will be confirmed and the letter will be returned to your municipality. You will also need a separate work permit if you plan on working in the country.
BSN via an RNI Municipality
People living outside the Netherlands or coming to the Netherlands for less than four months to study or work can also obtain a citizen service number (BSN) by registering in the Non-residents Records Database(RNI). You can register in person at one of the 19 municipalities with an RNI desk in the Netherlands to receive your citizen service number.
BSN to receive AOW
Individuals living abroad looking to receive the Dutch state pension (AOW) can get a BSN via the Dutch Social Insurance Bank (Sociale Verzekeringsbank - SVB). SVB will register your details in the RNI and give you a BSN.
BSN for inheritance tax
If you require a BSN for inheritance tax purposes, you can apply for a BSN via the Tax and Customs Administration.
Where Can I Find My BSN Number?
Let’s face it, remembering a telephone number is hard enough for most of us, so what do you do if you forget or lose your BSN number?
There is no need to panic as unlike other numbers found only on specific documentation, a BSN number is mentioned on many government-issued documents and even online.
So here are some of the documents on which you can find your citizen service number:
- Dutch Passport - For passports issued before 2014, your BSN can be found on the front of the personal details page (the page with your photo), next to your date of birth. For passports issued after 2014, the BSN is at the top of page 1, on the back of the personal details page.
- Dutch identity card - Your BSN is either on the front (for ID cards issued before 2014) or back (for ID cards issued before 2014) of your Dutch identity card. For ID cards issued after 2 August 2021, there is also a QR code on the back of the ID card representing your BSN.
- Dutch driving licence - You can find your BSN in the upper left-hand corner at the back of your Dutch driving licence. The BSN is before the ‘/’ symbol, and your driving licence number is after the ‘/.’
- Health insurance card - Your BSN usually appears under ‘BSN’ or ‘personal identification number’ on a Dutch health insurance card. Health insurance policies also have your BSN on them.
- Online on MijnOverheid - You can look up your BSN online on MijnOverheid. Once you have logged in using your DigiD or a recognized means of eID from another European country, click ‘Identiteit.' You can then find it in your personal data section.
Tax assessments or return letters sent to you by the Dutch Tax Office, Dutch payslips, and annual salary statements are some other documents you can refer to for your BSN.
If you cannot access any of these documents, there is still a way out. You can go to the Dutch municipality where you are registered and request your BSN number.
Who Needs A BSN Number?
As mentioned earlier in this article, it is possible to survive in the Netherlands without getting a BSN. But before you think of doing this, read on to know who needs a BSN in Holland:
- All Dutch nationals - As a Dutch national, you receive your BSN at birth, which will show on your Dutch passport or national ID card.
- International students - International students enrolling at a college or university in the Netherlands need a BSN. The municipality organises central registration days in many universities every year to make it easier for international students to register without visiting the municipal office.
- Long-term visits - If you intend to live in the Netherlands for more than four months, you will need to obtain a BSN within five days of arriving in the Netherlands.
- Short-term visits - If you plan on being in the Netherlands for less than four months, you can register as a non-resident (RNI) and get a BSN that allows you to access all public services.
- From outside the country - If you live abroad and want to claim a Dutch social security payment, or if you would like to make a claim for a partner who is abroad, you can enrol as a non-resident(RNI) and receive a Dutch BSN without having to travel to the country.
- Businesses - Businesses that register in the Netherlands receive an RSIN (the Dutch company tax number) from The Dutch Chamber of Commerce. Sole traders and unlimited partnerships will have to use the individual BSN numbers of owners for taxation purposes.
Using the BSN to get a DigiID
After you have your BSN number, you should apply for a DigiID which is almost as important. But, what's a DigiID? DigiIDs are used to access online government services. For example, to apply for benefits, and health insurance, and to do your taxes you need a DigiID to log in.
Steps on getting a DigiID:
- Request one on the digiID website.
- On the first page, fill in your personal details like your BSN, date of birth, postcode, and so on.
- Then, choose a username and password. Don't forget it, because then you'll need to reapply.
- You will get an email validation.
- Then, you will receive a letter with the final activation code. Activate your DigiID within 20 days.
Once you get a BSN, it is yours forever, even if you leave the country. So you can use it if you return later or to claim benefits from abroad. The unique BSN is retired after a person’s death.
When should I deregister?
If you’re moving to a new address within the same municipality, you must inform the local municipality and they will update your address in your BRP records.
But in the following situations, you need to deregister your BSN:
- If you are moving to another area, register with your nearest municipality, and they will automatically deregister you from your old address while registering you for your new one.
- If you spend more than eight months abroad or are leaving the Netherlands permanently, you must inform your municipality and deregister no later than five days before departure. You can deregister by visiting your municipal office in person, via mail, or online (only possible with some municipalities).
As we reach the end of our comprehensive BSN Number guide, you have seen exactly why BSN number registration is a big deal in the Netherlands.
You now know what a BSN is, why you should apply for a citizen service number when you arrive in the Netherlands, the registration process to get a burgerservicenummer, the different documents on which you can find your BSN, and when and how to deregister your BSN.
We hope you found this guide helpful. Please share your thoughts and let us know if any information is missing in the comments below.