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Practical matters

Last updated on 2 May 2023
Before you start working at VU Amsterdam there are some practical matters that needs to be taken care of.

Here you find information about what you need to know before you move to The Netherlands, once you arrive and what needs to be arranged. 

  • Once you arrive in The Netherlands

    Collecting your residence permit (VVR)

    If you need an entry visa (MVV) to enter the Netherlands you will be able to collect your residence permit immediately at IN Amsterdam. The International Office will book an appointment for you.

    If you are exempted from the obligation to have a MVV, and you can enter the Netherlands with your passport, but you will need to have your biometrics (fingerprints, digital signature and passport photo) taken at IN Amsterdam. About two weeks later you will receive a message form IND or the International Office mentioning you can collect your residence permit at IN Amsterdam.

    Registering in the municipal records database (BRP)

    Registering at your local municipality is a mandatory procedure if you intend to stay longer than 4 months, irrespective of your nationality. The registration is done in person at the IN Amsterdam in case you will be residing in the Amsterdam area. All family members that will be registered must be present. No registration fees apply. The database is used as a source of information by various other organizations, including IND, the Dutch Tax Administration and the Social Insurance Bank. These organizations rely on the address details as listed in the Municipal Personal Records Database.

    International employees, PhD candidates and guests of Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam from outside the EU/EER can only register with the Municipal Personal Records Database after they have applied for a residence permit with the IND. Both registrations will be arranged during your appointment at the Expatcenter.

    More about BRP

    The citizen service number (BSN)

    After registering with the Municipal Personal Records Database (GBA), you will automatically be allocated a citizen service number (BSN), which will be sent to your home address in the Netherlands. The citizen service number (BSN) is a unique personal number allocated to everyone registered in the Municipal Personal Records Database. The citizen service number is recorded on passports, driving licences and identity cards and is required to receive a salary or to open a bank account at a Dutch bank.

    More about BSN

    Setting up a local bank account

    Next to IN Amsterdam you will find a local branch office of ABN AMRO bank. You are free to open an account at any bank you wish in the Netherlands. However, international employees, PhD candidates and guests of Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam generally have an account at ABN AMRO Bank. International employees and PhD candidates need to show a valid passport at the bank as well as a copy of your employment contract with Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam. Guests need to show a valid passport and a declaration of courtesy privileges from Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam. You must also be able to provide proof of your Dutch address, such as a copy of the rental agreement or a utility bill. Furthermore, you must provide the bank with your citizen service number within four weeks.

    Applying for a DigiD

    DigiD stands for Digital Identity and is needed for tax purposes. A DigiD allows users to access a great number of online services offered by Dutch government agencies. DigiD is only available to people who are registered in a Dutch municipality and have a BSN number (citizen service number).

    Apply for a DigiD at:

  • Arrange insurance

    Healthcare and insurance (ziektekostenverzekering)

    Everyone living in the Netherlands is legally obliged to have health insurance. The health care system in the Netherlands is a social provision, which means that everyone has health care insurance and access to care.

    Two types of healthcare insurance

    Dutch public health insurance (basiszorgverzekering)

    You will participate in the Dutch public healthcare insurance if you fall under the Dutch social security - either through being employed by a Dutch employer or through having the center of your social, economic and cultural life in the Netherlands (ordinarily resident). All employees of Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam will automatically participate and are obliged to take out Dutch public health insurance.  You need to arrange this within 4 months after arrival in the Netherlands. The basiszorgverzekering is a standard insurance and may be extended with additional packages. Although it is a public health insurance scheme, the insurance policies are provided by private insurance companies. Each company offers a different package and competes on different service levels. You are free to choose any company you like, however, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam offers a group health insurance scheme in cooperation with health insurer Zilveren Kruis. Zilveren Kruis offers you and your family a 10% discount on the basic health insurance policy and an attractive group discount on the supplementary packages and dental insurance cover. Like most other insurers, Zilveren Kruis offers supplementary packages ranging from limited to very extensive. With the exception of comprehensive dental insurance cover, Zilveren Kruis does not make this subject to medical selection. 

    For further information on premiums and reimbursements, or to register for health insurance, visit Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam’s group insurance policy number for is 207083079.

    If you have any questions, contact Zilveren Kruis’s customer service at +31-(0)71 36 52080. This service is available from 08:00 to 21:00 Mondays to Fridays, and from 10:00 to 14:00 on Saturdays. Always quote Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam’s group insurance policy number.

    Dutch private health insurance

    International guests of Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam (if not considered an ordinarily resident) can take out Dutch private health insurance. Several private insurance companies sell policies designed especially for researchers coming to the Netherlands, for instance: AON.

    Please see the Euraxess website for more options.

    The insurance packages offered, usually also include liability insurance, accident insurance, theft insurance, travel insurance, repatriation insurance and legal aid insurance. They provide adequate healthcare cover and information in English. The latter is something that most Dutch healthcare insurance companies lack.

    Healthcare in The Netherlands

    Watch the Dutch healthcare system in video, part 1 & part 2.

    Finding and visiting a doctor                                

    In case you need medical care in the Netherlands, you will need to register with a doctor (General Practitioner (GP)/ in Dutch: Huisarts) close to your home. Many practices have male and female doctors and allow you to specify any preferences when you make an appointment. Most doctors speak English. It is advisable to find a GP and register with them as soon as possible. This can take some time as there are often waiting lists.

    The GP should be the first point of call for all medical problems with the exception of real emergencies. You can make an appointment over the phone, and in some cases by email. Most doctors have set consultation hours and some even give advice over the phone. If the problem is serious, the doctor may make a house call, but this is not normal practice.

    When visiting the doctor for the first time, take any medical records with you, as this enables the doctor to assess your medical history and this may help communication.

    Please also bring a valid ID and valid proof of insurance with you. This initial meeting will normally be charged as a consultation.

    Once a diagnosis is made, the doctor decides on the method of treatment. He or she may treat the problem themselves, perhaps with prescription drugs available from a chemist. Alternatively, the doctor may refer the patient to a specialist in a hospital. A referral is always necessary to see a specialist except for physiotherapists or midwives.

    Pharmacy (Apotheek)

    The Dutch word for pharmacy is Apotheek. At the pharmacy you can obtain prescribed drugs and other related items, such as non-prescription cough syrup, vitamins and pain relievers. Only a doctor may issue a prescription (recept). He or she may ask which pharmacy you would like to collect your medicine from and contact them on your behalf. It can be to your advantage to use the same pharmacy for all your prescriptions. Employees at the pharmacy are qualified, licensed pharmacists and can answer your questions about the drugs you are getting and about minor medical afflictions.


    All students and employees of Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam who stay in the Netherlands for more than one year can register with ACTA for dental care. Employees who stay for less than one year can contact the Tandartsenbemiddelingsbureau (Dentist mediation bureau). They will assist you in finding a dentist who can help you at short notice.

    Please note that basic Dutch health insurance does not cover dental care. Additional coverage may therefore be necessary.

    ACTA Amsterdam (Dentist) 

    Gustav Mahler Laan 3004, , 1081 LA Amsterdam, +31 (0)20-5980380,, open on weekdays from 8:30AM to 12:30PM, and from 1:30PM to 5PM, Tandartsenbemiddelingsbureau (Dentists, urgent matters), +31 (0)20 3034500

    Personal liability insurance (aansprakelijkheidsverzekering voor particulieren, AVP)

    In the Netherlands, you are legally liable if someone suffers damage due to a mistake made or an accident caused by you. This means you must compensate the other party for the damage suffered. Personal Liability Insurance (AVP) protects you against this. AVP covers almost all damage for which you, as a private individual, can be held liable, regardless of how the incident in question occurred. The cost of damages can be quite considerable. AVP will also cover damage that your child or pet might cause. However, damage caused by motor vehicles, for example, through a collision, is not covered by AVP. For this, you must take out Third Party Insurance (WA-verzekering) via a car insurer.

    Car insurance and driver's licence

    If you have your own car, motorbike or moped while living in the Netherlands you are required to insure yourself against legal liability through Third Party Insurance (WA-verzekering). You are then insured against damage you may cause with your vehicle. Damage to your vehicle, however, is not covered. You can supplement your Third Party Insurance with All Risk Cover (cascodekking). This provides insurance for the car itself but not its contents. For more information please see the website of  IN Amsterdam.

    Collective car insurance via Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam (for employees only):
    International employees of Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam can take out car insurance via the University’s group contract with Aon Nederland. For information and premiums, contact:

    • Service Center Aon Verzekeringen, tel. +31 (0) 71 364 35 30 (open from 08:00 to 18:00)  (Dutch only)

    House contents insurance (inboedelverzekering)

    Fire and theft can cause unforeseen damage and expense – you can insure yourself against them. In some larger cities, you will always have an excess (eigen risico) for theft. There is also a maximum insurance payout for audiovisual equipment such TVs or DVDs. It is important to make sure you have proper cover. Your house contents must be insured at replacement value. If your cover is too low, the insurer will pay out less, even for minor damage. This will mean that the money is insufficient to replace old articles with new.

    • For more information please see the website of  IN Amsterdam.
  • Finance

    Bank affairs

    Next to INAmsterdam you will find a local branch office of ABN AMRO bank. You are free to open an account at any bank you wish in the Netherlands but international employees, PhD Candidates and guests of VU Amsterdam usually have an account at ABN AMRO bank. Top open an account you need to bring a valid passport, a copy of your employment contract with VU Amsterdam, a proof of your Dutch address and provide the bank with your citizen service number. 


    In the Netherlands, income tax is charged on three different types of income, with each type of income classified into a separate regime or ‘box’ as follows: 

    1. Box 1: Income from employment and home ownership
    2. Box 2: Income from substantial interest in a corporation
    3. Box 3: Income from savings and investments 

      Contact details Dutch Tax Administration:
      T +31 (0)55 5 385 385 (from the Netherlands) or +31 (0)555 385 385 (from abroad) 

    30% ruling

    Dutch employers may pay expats who have specific expertise that is scarce in the Dutch labour market 30% of their wages as a tax-free allowance for extraterritorial expenses, without the need to submit further evidence. Application for the 30% rule first requires the permission of the Dutch Tax Administration, and will then be granted for a maximum of 5 years. The expat and the employer will have to file a joint request to the tax authorities for this. For further information to arrange the application for the 30% rule, please do not hesitate to contact us via


    The Dutch AOW pension (paid under the National Old Age Pensions Act, AOW) is the basic state pension. As a rule, everyone who had reached the AOW pension age and lives or has lived in the Netherlands is entitled to a state pension. This comes into effect from the day you reach the state pension age that applies for you. It makes no difference in which country you live at that time. The Sociale Verzekeringsbank (SVB) is the organization that implements the state pension scheme in the Netherlands. 

    Social security

    The Netherlands has an extended social security system, which provides financial security when your income is affected by events such as illness, job loss or old age. There is a division within the social security system between the general national insurance schemes and the income-related employee insurance schemes. Besides these schemes, there are several other social provisions which might be relevant to you. Whether or not you fall within any one of these schemes depends on your situation, for instance if you are an employee of VU Amsterdam, or a guest. 

    Another important aspect is that people from EU Countries who work in several countries are only covered by the social security system of one country.