Just when you think you’re ready to start your Dutch adventure, you find out there are some things no one told you. No worries, we’ve got you covered!

1You can’t pay by credit card in the Netherlands’ biggest supermarket

Now that might sound like a trivial fact until you find yourself standing at the checkout in the Albert Heijn, starving and only one plastic card away from getting that alluring food that might save you from a hungry-related fall out with your new neighbours. Yeah, we don’t want that! Make sure you possess a Maestro Card or take out enough cash to survive the time until you’ll be able to open a Dutch bank account.

2The BRP is not the same as the BSN

There seems to be a lot of confusion about the BRP and BSN when, in fact, it is quite simple. The ultimate goal is to get a BSN which is quite essential when living in the Netherlands. You will need it for all administrative steps like opening a bank account, take out health insurance etc. To get a BSN, you need to register at the BRP (Basisregistratie Personen). The BRP is a database which contains personal data of all residents in the Netherlands (as well as from people who have left the Netherlands again). To register at the BRP, you need to make an appointment with the municipality of your place of residence. So again: You make an appointment for your registration at the BRP. After your registration, you’ll receive your BSN. Piece of cake, right?

3Getting an appointment at the municipality sucks

Unfortunately, it is not quite that easy! Registering at some municipalities can truly be a pain in the a**. Why is that? First of all, not all municipalities allow you to register an appointment online. Although we must confess all bigger municipalities like AmsterdamDelftDen HaagEindhovenGroningenNijmegenRotterdamUtrecht actually do. So the real hassle starts, as usual, with the formalities. First of all, we must tell you that it makes no sense to rock up at that appointment when you don’t have a residential address yet. “Fun” fact: For some accommodations, you need a BSN to be able to register, and you end up in a classic catch-22 situation. But more about this elsewhere. However, if you managed to arrange your housing in the Netherlands already (well done!) and you are all set to pay a visit to your local city hall, make sure you bring the ORIGINAL documents like birth certificate etc. Not all municipalities demand this, but carefully check before you have to leave the appointment empty-handed.

So far, so good. Now you know how to get food and have the necessary formalities settled, let’s have a look at the following steps. Insurances!

4Most insurances in the Netherlands don’t have an English website

You might have guessed it: Taking out health insurance in the Netherlands is mandatory. At least if you work in the Netherlands or live in the Netherlands for more than four months. Which is why it stays a secret to us, why only eight of over 50 health insurances in the Netherlands have an English website. Fortunately, you’ve found us! On comeandstay.nl we’ve put together all non-Dutch-speaking-friendly health insurances in the Netherlands which actually do have an English website.

5Some apps are not available in the Dutch app store

Some apps are pretty essential when moving to the Netherlands. A good and especially reliable weather app, for example. One of them is called buienradar. Problem though is that you won’t be able to download it in the Apple app store (if you have an iPhone) if you aren’t registered in the Dutch app store. Yes, you heard right, there is such a thing as app store discrimination. And rejected access to buienradar while living in the Netherlands is in our eyes totally counted as discrimination (If you don’t live in the Netherlands yet, wait and see!). Fortunately, it is pretty easy to switch the app store. To do so, you need to update the country or region that’s associated with your Apple ID. To change the app store, you need to provide a Dutch payment method which you might not have (yet). However, there is a simple trick how you can do so without a Dutch credit card. 

Be aware that switching the app store might cause the problem the other way round though. E.g. online banking apps from local banks from your country of origin are possibly not available in the Dutch app store, and you won’t be able to update them if you switch the country of your Apple ID to the Netherlands. 

And last but not least. Don’t panic if you hear the sirenes in the Netherlands because:

6Every first Monday of the month the alarm goes off

Don’t panic! Stay calm and check what date and time it is. Every first Monday of the month at exactly noon the municipalities test if the sirenes are still working correctly. Furthermore, the test makes sure the sirens are recognized in a real case of emergency. For the test, the sirens go off for exactly 1 minute and 26 seconds (yeah, we’re also not sure why this is important, but the Dutch government states this on the website and we might as well mention it here just in case we missed it’s importance). If you hear the sirens any other time or if they go off multiple times in a row, go inside and listen to the radio or watch television. 

But enough panic talk! Knowing what you know now, we’re convinced that panic isn’t something you have to deal with when starting your Dutch adventure. comeandstay.nl provides you with everything you need for a smooth start in the Netherlands without losing time browsing the internet for information you didn’t know you needed. The site informs you as relevant and as short as possible. Whether you come to the Netherlands as a student, young professional or job seeker, make sure you’ll browse the corresponding section.

Even though the information on comeandstay.nl is a result of our own experience as well as of numerous interviews with internationals in the Netherlands, we still might not have covered all important topics. Please let us know if we didn’t! We love to receive feedback.

Written by Simone Sollberger | Published on 04 November 2019 | Categories: Holland Life, Official Issues