Preparing to move abroad is an exciting (albeit stressful) life situation for anyone. Fortunately, the Netherlands is such a popular country to live and work in for skilled professionals from anywhere in the world – and settling there does not have to be difficult either.

To help you prepare for your next adventure abroad, we have prepared this checklist of everything you need to arrange in order to start your new life in the Netherlands.


Arrange a residence permit

You do not need a residence permit to move to the Netherlands if you are from an EU member state (or Norway, Switzerland, Iceland or Liechtenstein). However, if you are a non-EU/EEA national, you will need a residence permit or work permit to live and work in the Netherlands (for more than 90 days).

Register with the Municipality

If you plan to stay in the Netherlands for four months or longer, you will need to register with the closest municipality to your location. This is mandatory, and it will also enable you to register for other necessities, such as your BSN number.

After obtaining your residence/work permit, you will need to register with the municipality (gemeente) you live in.  Most require you to register within five days of arriving in the Netherlands. That is why you should contact your gementee before your arrival and request an appointment for “registration from abroad” (inschrijven vanuit het buitenland). When your appointment is set, you will receive confirmation by post or email which will list the documents you need for your registration appointment.

If you’re planning to arrive before you have a fixed address, plan to register as soon as your rental contract is finalized. When in doubt, you can always contact the municipality for advice about how to register.

Documents needed to register:

  • Valid passport or ID card (not a driving license)
  • Residence permit (if applicable, either a sticker in your passport, a plastic ID card, or letter from IND (Immigration Department)).
  • Your rental contract
  • A certified copy of your birth certificate
  • Your foreign marriage certificate or registered partnership or divorce (if applicable)

Use links to resources: Registration in the Netherlands.

Open a Dutch bank account

Setting up a bank account is essential no matter where you live – you will need it to be able to receive the salary, rent an apartment, or go shopping. 

Fortunately opening a bank account is as easy as walking into your nearest branch or making an appointment online. Most banks in the Netherlands will also be able to provide their most important services in English. 

Known banks in the Netherlands 

Useful links to resources 

Apply for a DigiD

DigiD (short for Digital Identification) is a form of online ID that allows you to access many services and government websites in the Netherlands.

Upon your registration with the municipality (gemeente), you will receive your BSN (burgerservicenummer) to be able to sign up for your DigiD. DigiD is your online identification which gives you access to governmental organizations and other services such as:

  • Health insurance companies
  • Hospitals
  • Various other insurers like car insurance
  • Pension funds
  • UVW unemployment agency
  • DUO for students
  • KvK Chamber of Commerce 

Apply for a DigiD here: 

Take out Health Insurance

Everyone who lives in the Netherlands is required to have health insurance. If you’re moving from outside the EU/EEA, one of the first things you’ll need to do is get started on a Dutch health insurance policy. Even if you have an existing policy from your home country, you’ll be required to take out a Dutch insurance plan within the first four months of registering.  

Register with a General Practitioner

Family doctors (General Practitioner’s / GPs) are the gatekeepers of the Dutch healthcare system. You need their referral to go to any other medical specialist or even get emergency care.

In the Netherlands, you are required to register with a general practice (huisarts) in your area in order to get access to medical care. This should be the first point of contact if you have a health complaint that is not an emergency. Appointments with your general practice are always covered by basic health insurance. In case you need a specialist for your medical problem, you will need a referral letter from your general practice to book appointments. This includes mental health professionals. If you decide to see a psychologist or psychiatrist without a referral, your insurance will not cover your session. 

You can find all the GPs in your area here. This website is in Dutch, but it is quite easy to understand. Fill in your postal code and click on the banner that says ‘Zoek Huisartsen’. There you can select the general practice of your preference. 

Get an OV chipkaart

OV-chipkaart is the travel pass for the train, bus, tram, and metro services throughout the country. The chipkaart is sustainable and super convenient to have if you regularly travel with public transport. There are two types of OV-chipkaart: the anonymous card, and a personalized card. With the anonymous card, you can purchase this at any train station, tobacco shop, and supermarket. To order the personalized one, you would have to be registered in the Netherlands and have a BSN number. The most important tip for using your public transport chip card is to always remember to check in and check out

Get a bicycle

Did you know that there are more bicycles in the Netherlands than there are people? While the population is just under 17 million, approximately 22.7 million bikes can be found across the country. It is impossible to separate the Dutch out of their bicycles. Superpower in real life can actually be demonstrated by Dutch people talking on the phone, changing their clothes, carrying an IKEA bed frame while cycling through town! Biking in the Netherlands is a way of life. Biking is not only a convenient way of transport, but it is also affordable.  

That is it! Our checklist to for a simple move to the Netherlands. We hope you can take the headache out of relocation with this checklist and have a smart, stress-free move. If you are still looking for a job for you or your partner, have a glance at our vacancies! We wish you all the best during your stay in the Netherlands! 


Are you moving to the Netherlands with your business? Octagon Professionals offers international deployment and immigration services for employers with skilled professionals from outside of the EU/EEA and Switzerland. Octagon is a recognized sponsor of the Immigration and Naturalization Service (IND) and can facilitate applications for Dutch expat benefits for your business. Learn more about our comprehensive international deployment services here.