One of the first, and most important, things you need to check off your freshman to-do-list is registering yourself. That means going through your city hall registration. You need to do this for a number of reasons, the most important being that you need to be entered into Dutch official records and get a BSN number. This is an important first step to do in your first few days or weeks of living in Holland. Want to find out how to register? Keep on reading!
The main reason you need to register at a city hall is to receive your BSN number (Burgerservicenummer). Your BSN number is basically a unique Citizen Service Number. Instead of having multiple identity numbers for social security and tax, you have an all-in-one BSN number. You need to have a BSN number if you are living and studying in Holland.
The second reason you need to complete a city hall registration is so that your details are entered into the Municipal Personal Records Base. Once you are officially entered in the database, people like doctors or accountants can find you and your BSN number in their records.
Why do I need a BSN number?
You need one because you need to be officially registered. Moreover, you need a BSN number to open a bank account, get insurance, apply for allowances, and get a job. If you want to apply for student finance, you also need a BSN number. It makes getting all of these things sorted a lot easier since you don’t need as many documents when you have one identity number. You can read a lot more on the specifics about the BSN number in this post.
You get your BSN number after you register.
Do I meet the requirements?
Basically, there are 3 scenarios where you need to complete a city hall registration.
Either you are Dutch, have a residence permit, or have been living in the Netherlands for more than 4 months.
In reality, almost everyone needs to register their address at a town hall.
Where do I register?
You register at a gemeente, meaning a Dutch municipality. You do this by locating your city hall. For instance, if you live in Rotterdam, you need to register at the city hall in Rotterdam. You should do this within your first week or so of being in Holland if you are planning on staying in the Netherlands for 4 months or more. The sooner you do it, the better!
You can make an appointment directly with the city hall. You can find your city hall by searching for your location and ‘city hall’. On their websites, you can usually make appointments online or by phone. If you know when you will be arriving, it might be best to schedule ahead of time. In this downloadable guide, you can find the websites and phone numbers of each major city hall.
However, keep in mind that there are long waiting lists, and it might take weeks to get an appointment. Many universities offer specific time slots for new students to register. You might be able to do this on campus or even book at a time at the city hall. Ask your school or look out for emails or notifications regarding registering.
What do I need to bring to my city hall registration?
As an EU student, you need to bring a proof of identity (passport or ID), proof of address, your original birth certificate, and your housing contract. You also need to make sure they are legalized if need be.
If you are non-EU, you need to show the same documents, perhaps proof of your university enrolment, as well as a valid residence permit. You can also show proof that you have applied for your residence permit.
Non-EU students, listen up
Whether, or when, you get your BSN number depends on the Immigration and Naturalisation Service (IND). Depending on where you are from, you might need a residence permit. You can apply for your residence permit first and then register at the city hall. The IND will approve your permit, tell the municipality, and you will be registered. After around 10 days you will get your BSN number.
That was a short guide to registering in the Netherlands. Aim do to it within 5 days of arriving in the Netherlands and check out whether you can register through your university. This is a super important step to studying in the Netherlands, so don't sleep on it!
Do you have any experience with city hall registration? Share it with us!