Dutch Registration

The first, and possibly the most frustrating, bit of Dutch bureaucracy every new arrival has to overcome is registration.

Dutch rules say that to be officially resident in The Netherlands, you must register and receive a BSN number, like the NI number in the UK or the SIN number in Canada. Without it you won’t be legally registered in The Netherlands and you won’t be able to work or get paid.

You start the process off by calling and asking for an appointment to register: 070 353 3000.

If you’re smart, do this a couple weeks before you actually arrive because there’s often a 3-4 week waiting list for an appointment. We found this was the hardest part of the process. We had to call 3 times before we reached the right department and the first 2 times we were given incorrect information. Persist and you’ll get there eventually!

For your appointment, you must bring:

  • Your passport
  • Your rental contract or a letter of permission if you’re staying with friends/family

These 2 things are enough for initial registration for EU nationals. If you come from outside of the EU, you need to complete the process.

To do this, bring:

  • Your birth certificate
  • Your marriage / divorce / single status certificate
  • Birth certificates for any children

In many cases, all of these certificates need to go through a multi-layer approval process, which can take literally months. EU nationals can bring these documents whenever they are ready to complete their application but they can start work without any of this extra documentation.

If you get stuck, one very helpful resource is the Expat Welcome Centre in the City Hall of The Hague. Their website gives detailed advice on Dutch registration procedures and the staff there are exceedingly helpful.


  1. Angie
    19th January 2013 at 8:15 am #

    Hi there! Can you move to the Netherlands, as a Canadian, just because you want to live there, or do you have to prove you:a) have enough of money to live of without having to work for a certain period of time; b) have a work contract; c) be married to a local; d)…? Thanks!

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