One of the first steps you should take into account when thinking about relocating and working in the Netherlands is to make sure you obtain a BSN number (Burger Service Nummer). Your BSN number is your personal identification number, and everyone who lives in the Netherlands is required to have one. It allows you to: open up a bank account, and to pay your taxes over your income, which are essentials before starting employment. 

Your BSN number also will enable you to be able to use the healthcare system, apply for benefits and declare any change of address. 

It is important to note here that having a BSN number does not automatically grant expats the right to work in the Netherlands. Indeed, you might need to apply for a work permit as an extra step (this varies depending on your country of origin). 

You will receive a BSN Number when you register at the municipality (or 'gemeente' in Dutch) . Everyone who moves to the Netherlands and plans to stay longer than four months is required to register themselves at the municipality within the first 5 days after arrival. 

In order to obtain the BSN, there are a few documents that you are required to provide: 

  • A valid passport (please note that a driver's license is not enough!)
  • Non-EU members also need to bring a residence permit and employment contract if applicable
  • An address to register as your home address

Some municipalities only process registrations via a pre-scheduled appointment. Getting one can take a few weeks and delay the process of getting a BSN Number. We therefore advise you to make an appointment as soon as possible upon arrival.

Please note that depending on the municipality, you might require additional documents.

EU-members can also get a BSN number while still living abroad. You will still have to make an appointment at the municipality, but you can register with your current EU address. You will then receive a temporary BSN Number which is valid for 4 months and this will be changed to a long-term BSN as soon as you have a Dutch address.

If you are in urgent need of a BSN number and can not wait for the appointment at the municipality, there is one other solution. The expat center in Amsterdam issues BSN numbers right away. Note that the expat center charges a fee for this service.