Moving to the Netherlands for your studies is a tall task for someone from outside the EU. But we’ve got you covered! With our Quick Setup Guide to Studying in the Netherlands as an American, you’ll be enjoying your time in the Netherlands in no time.

1Find and get accepted by a study

Well, let’s start from scratch here; There are a few different aspects to consider when choosing a study in The Netherlands, some of which may seem weird to you as an American. For one, there is a distinction between two types of Bachelor programs that you can pick from: ‘HBO’s’ and ‘WO’s’.

HBO (University of applied sciences) programs are more professionally inclined and will set you up for a specific occupation. WO’s (academic university education) are more like a typical American university and are academically inclined. The focus lies on learning, and critical thinking and your instructors conduct research within their given field. Both have their benefits; it just depends on what you want.

Here‘s a list of all (WO) universities in the Netherlands.

Good to know: If you graduate from an HBO program and intend on doing a Master’s program (WO) after your Bachelor studies, you will have to take a pre-Master’s 1-year course.

Once you’ve made your pick and applied, you will (hopefully!) receive a Conditional Letter of Acceptance from the chosen University, meaning you’re accepted as long as you can complete some requirements which typically include:

  • Proving sufficient financial means
  • Validating your original diploma and grade list
  • Have a valid residence permit (which will usually be arranged by your University)

2Search for scholarships

Money can be a limiting factor when studying in the Netherlands as an American as it is not a cheap country. Unfortunately, for individuals outside of the EU/EER zone, there is a higher tuition, with it being roughly 8.000 euros per year. While still affordable compared to many American universities, it’s always something to consider. This makes it all the more important to find possible scholarships. On you can find a list of potential scholarships for you.

3Prove your financial means

If you want to study in the Netherlands as an American, you need to prove that you can pay your tuition fee and have the financial means to provide for yourself. This comes in at 10.350 euros total and must be confirmed for each year you study in the Netherlands. For your first year of study, you will likely have to prove your financial means by providing a ‘Package Fee’ to your chosen educational institution. This package fee includes your tuition and your proof of financial means.

At first, this might seem daunting: you’re sending considerable money to a different country. Rest assured that once your Dutch bank account is set up, the proof of financial means will be sent back to you. After this first year, there are more flexible ways to show you have the financial means to stay. Read more about how to prove your financial means on the website of the Dutch Immigration Service.

4Arrange your housing

Finding housing in the Netherlands, especially when still living in a different time zone, can be quite a challenge. One major tip is to arrange temporary accommodation for the first weeks and to arrive in time to be able to start looking in person. We have a whole article dedicated to finding housing in the Netherlands which you can read here.

5Arrive in the Netherlands

Once you’ve been accepted to your study program, you’ve arranged (temporary) housing, and you’ve proved your financial means, it’s time to start your Dutch adventure. Yay! Most schools provide a moving service where people from your educational institution will pick you up from Schiphol (the Netherland’s main airport) and will bring you to the city where your school is located. If this isn’t an option, simply jump on the train which is literally located in the airport. You’ll find it easily by following the train signs, and you can purchase your ticket on one of the yellow ticket machines with your credit card.

6Open a Dutch bank account

To receive your proof of financial means back (and to be able to pay in the largest Dutch supermarket, which doesn’t accept credit cards) you might want to open a Dutch bank account. However, a major issue, especially for students coming from outside of the EU, is a classic Catch-22 situation of getting your Burger Service Number (BSN) and opening a bank account. Your educational institution will be arranging your Residence Permit and BSN appointments. Therefore, avoid the Catch-22 of waiting on your BSN to open your bank account, as your 10.350 euros are currently being held until you provide your bank information to your school. Here’s what you can do:

  • Open a temporary bank account without a BSN by providing a letter of recommendation from your bank back home.
  • Choose a bank that doesn’t require a BSN. Online banks like BUNQ don’t require a BSN (provided you have it within 90 days), you just need to provide a permanent address and a Passport.

7Get student health insurance

Health Insurance is a requirement for everyone within the Netherlands. As a non-working student from outside of the EU, you are ineligible to apply for Dutch Public Health Insurance, and you can’t rely on your health insurance from back home. With this in mind, you need to apply for a student health insurance plan as soon as you moved to the Netherlands, of which there are a few options. Read our guide on Dutch Health insurances to find the most suitable option for you.

8Visit the IND office and provide biometric info

Your school will apply for a Residence Permit on your behalf. Once this is approved, you will be notified, and you will have to make an appointment at the Immigration and Naturalisation Service (IND) to provide biometric information (2 fingerprints and a passport photo) to complete your Residence Permit application. Once you’ve done this, your Residence Permit will be created, and you will either be able to pick it up at the IND office at a later date, or receive it at your school’s International Registration Day.

9Attend your school’s Registration Day

Your school will more than likely have an International Registration Day where employees from your local Gemeente (municipality) will sit with you and register you with the municipality and hand you out your Residence Permit. Once completed, you will receive your fabled BSN information via email a few days later, which you’ll need for your bank account and other important bureaucratic functions.

10View the comeandstay Step-by-Step guide for students 

On our motto is ‘you don’t know what you don’t know’. That’s why in our Step-by-Step guides, we created an overview of all steps you need to take when moving to the Netherlands from the preparation to the first week, first month and onwards. 

Things can feel a bit overwhelming at first: we’ve been there! In fact, the person writing this right now went through this and is now living happily in the Netherlands. If you take everything step by step, it will surely work out perfect, and you’ll be having the best time studying in the Netherlands. You’ll most likely experience a lot of support from your school, which will assuredly answer any questions you have. Also, don’t hesitate to contact us if there is anything we could be helping with. 

Good luck and see you around! 🙂

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