Moving to Amsterdam? Here’s 10 essential tips for expats.

So you’re making, considering or already have made the move to Amsterdam, Netherlands from foreign lands? We’ve rounded up 10 essential tips you need to know so you can hit the ground running!

  1. You might need a residency permit

    If you’re not an EU/EEA/Swiss national – you will.

    EU/EEA/Swiss nationals are able to come and live and work in The Netherlands but everyone else needs a residency permit. If you do need one, you should visit the immigration service office within 14 days of your arrival – they can process your residence permit card. There’s one in Amsterdam, The Hague, Rotterdam, Utrecht, Den Bosch, Eindhoven and Zwolle. You can find out more over on their site.

    From the UK, living in Amsterdam and worried about Brexit?
    If you’re from the UK and are worried about Brexit – you can find out the latest information from the IND (Immigration and Naturalisation Service) here. If you’re from the UK and not worried about Brexit – then lucky you!

  2. Finding accommodation is notoriously difficult 

    Amsterdam is in high demand, and therefore it’s quite a competitive market when it comes to looking for somewhere to live. You’re often alongside a group of people when looking at an apartment and companies like to take everything into account when choosing a tenant. Have a personal statement ready, they often ask for character references.

    When I was looking for accommodation in Amsterdam I had a moderate budget and it took around 3-4 weeks to find somewhere permanent. Many people suggested Facebook groups – and they really are a good place to start. Just search Accomodation in Amsterdam on Facebook to find them.  Below are some of the best sites to get looking.

    Expat Rentals

  3.  Register with City Hall

    If you’re staying in Netherlands for more than 4 months and have found a place to live – then you need to register with the local municipal. You can book online here.

    You’ll need to bring your ID and a document showing you have the right to live at that address i.e. rental agreement or a letter of permission from the house owner with a copy of their ID. Sometimes they need to see a copy of your birth certificate too.

    If you’re a highly skilled migrant – this process can be done seamlessly at an Expatcentre. The one in Amsterdam can be found at the World Trade Centre (WTC) at Amstedam Zuid.

    If you’re staying for less than 90 days – you’ll need a short-stay Schengen visa. It allows you to travel freely within the Netherlands and other Schengen countries.

  4. You’ll need a BSN number to work, access healthcare and banking.

    You can get one from the city hall or Expat centre (which ever you chose in the above tip) – they’ll issue you with an on-the-spot BSN (Burger Service Nummer). Burger means civilian in Eng, unfortunately you probably won’t receive a burger at the point of registration.

    This really is an important step when moving to Amsterdam or the Netherlands as you can’t get much done without it.

  5. Over 18? You’ll need local health insurance.

    It’s a legal requirement that all Dutch residents aged 18+ purchase health insurance. A basic package will cover you for the doctor, emergencies and other medical care. You will need a dutch address, BSN number and a dutch bank account. Even if you have an EHIC card, you still need local health insurance.

    Speaking of bank accounts…

  6. Open a Dutch bank account.

    I’d personally recommend ING, I found them extremely easy to use and they have experience dealing with expats. There’s also Rabobank and ABN.

    You’ll need your BSN number, passport/ID, proof of address and your employment contract.

  7. Get a Dutch mobile phone number.

    I think all banks require you to have a Dutch phone number, at least ING definitely do. Get yourself a sim card so you have a number with the +31 06 prefix.

  8. Learn some Dutch.

    Keep an eye out for local language classes or download some language apps on your phone to start learning the basics. We’ve pulled together a list of essential phrases to help get you started.

  9. Sort some transport.

    There are lots of options for getting around – other than walking – the most popular two are probably cycling and making use of an OV-chipkaart.

    These cards will cover you for use on trams, trains, metros, buses and ferries. You can’t use cash on public transport in Amsterdam so we really recommend getting a card – which is super easy to top-up. 

    Find out more in our guide to public transport in Amsterdam.

  10. Explore the rest of The Netherlands!

    To use public transport – you’ll need your OV-chipkaart. Public transport in Amsterdam is very good and allows you to visit other cities in The Netherlands such as Utrecht, Den Haag or Rotterdam.