Practical information for living in the Netherlands

Visas and permits

Student residency

Foreign students accepted into higher education study programs in the Netherlands are eligible for Dutch residency for the duration of their course. If you’re coming to the Netherlands to study for more than three months, your institution will apply for your student residence permit on your behalf - once you have been accepted onto a course. You can contact them for details of the procedure.

Residency for interns/workers

If you’re coming to Rotterdam for an internship or work, you’ll need a residence permit (in addition to a work permit in some cases). However, there are some exceptions where you don’t need them. Whether you can get a residence or a work permit depends on your situation, the period you want to stay in the Netherlands and the type of work will be doing.

For detailed info, depending on your situation, go to this Dutch Government on staying or living in the Netherlands. You choose your status (student, worker or other) and can read all about it. Or benefit from Study in Holland’s Internship Guide if you’re here for one of those.


If you’re planning to stay in The Netherlands for more than 4 months for work or study, you have to apply for registration in the Municipal Personal Record Database. This is located at the Town Hall and you need to make an appointment. We advise you to do it well in advance, even before you come to the Netherlands; the appointment is not always arranged quickly, and sometimes the wait can take several weeks. Further information and a guide to all documents required for registration are available.

You must register at your Dutch address. However, not all of the rooms or apartments are eligible for a tenant’s registration (where you officially report your residence), so pay attention and always ask the owner whether or not it's possible.


A BSN number (Burger Service Nummer) is Dutch social security and tax number, and it's needed to get a job or open a bank account. You should get a BSN number from Rotterdam tax office as soon as you arrive in the Netherlands. If you’re an intern it will serve for your company to pay you the internship allowance.


DigiD is a digital signature or verification used for many Government’s applications and requests. With it you can register with the Government website and apply, as an example, for your annual tax return (if you worked) or health insurance allowance. Here you can track all your activities regarding taxes and registration, or look for a bunch of other useful information. However, you need a BSN number. After the online application, you will receive a password which you can use to activate your DigiD.

Opening a Dutch bank account

Generally, on arriving, you can manage a few days with a credit card/foreign bank card. However, you should get a Dutch bank card as soon as possible, for a whole bunch of reasons - namely, it’s impractical not to.

There are loads of banks where you can open an account as an international. Rabobank, ING, ABN Amro are all good and reliable options. If you have a Dutch BSN number (check section ‘Registration’ on how to get one) you can chose any bank you’d like. If you do not have a BSN yet and you need to open an account, you can still apply to ABN or ING.

Getting a SIM Card and a phone number

Depending on the length of your stay - and how much you use your phone - there are a bunch of options for getting a Dutch number.

  1. Get a SIM card and pay prepaid

The easiest option is to get a SIM card and pay prepaid. This is great if you are not staying that long, or if you prefer connecting to the WiFi and sending Whatsapp messages. The disadvantage is that if you do need to call or use mobile data, the costs can add up pretty fast.

  1. Get a monthly SIM-only subscription

Pay a small monthly fee to get some minutes, internet and text messages at your disposal. For around 10 euros you can have a package that covers all that you need. You can find these from providers as Tele2, T-Mobile or KPN. The advantage of these subscriptions is that you aren’t tied into a 12 or 24-month contract; simply pay for the month’s you need, and the SIM is deactivated the rest of the time. No payment = no services or charges. However, you’ll still be able to use your number and connect to Wi-Fi for services like WhatsApp.

  1. Get a subscription (and a phone!)

If you’re staying for over two years, consider this option. Telecom providers normally have good deals when you order and device and SIM with them. For a monthly subscription around 30-40 euros per month, you can normally get 120 minutes, 500 MB/1 GB of internet and text messages, plus an iPhone 4 or 5 or an older Samsung model.

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