The Netherlands is an open country for international. There are many multinational companies with employees from all over the world with different nationalities. I came to the Netherlands with Orientation Year Visa. I share my experience here.
However, there are some things to be considered before you decide to move and stay in the country. I have read some blogs about negativity and how hard it is for some people, even though they are already granted the visa and moved. So this is based on my experience and I can tell that everything will be great as long as we plan it good and follow the procedure.
Mostly, renting house/ flat/ apartment in the Netherlands is processed through agencies. There are many agencies available and they put an advertisement online. You can check the price and location and decide if it is convenient for you then contact the agencies for detail information or requirements to rent. But they only advertise free accommodations, which means the places that are still occupied and still not available will not be advertised.
When I came, I stayed in BnB and hotel for two weeks because I didn’t get any suitable accommodation. I visited some agencies directly and figured out that not all accommodations are listed online. The place where I lived at the moment was not available at that time. I needed to wait for a week before the previous tenant left the house. So it’s also good to go and visit the agencies.
Normally, the documents needed are the copy of passport, visa/ residence permit, bank account information and employment contract letter. In my case, the agent accepted foreign bank account detail information. What about if you don’t have a job yet?
This is mostly the case when agencies reject your proposal because you don’t have an employment letter as proof of income and your capability to pay the rent. But some agencies accept a bank statement. I did not have a job either when I first moved to the Netherlands. That is why it’s helpful to visit the agent directly, explain your situation and show an indication that you are capable enough to pay the rent. The agent representative will communicate with the landlord to decide if you are allowed to rent their property. You then need to fill the form, pay one-month rent deposit and agent fee.
Tips for this is if you are into cheaper accommodation (below EUR 800) or students price then it will be difficult to find agencies who will approve your request without an employment contract. Save your money for a couple of months to be able to rent the accommodation.
Another alternative is renting BnB or temporary accommodation. I have some friends renting three to six months flat and all documents requested by the agent are only passport and visa.
If you have any friends or relatives staying in the country, then I think it will be better to stay with them for a while before you get a job and find your own suitable accommodation.
Now, after renting the accommodation for a while, if you decide to buy a property, it’s also not difficult for the foreigner to get a mortgage. There are agencies who help expatriates to process a mortgage. The documents needed are the copy of passport, residence permit and permanent-contract employment letter. Many of my colleagues from work bought a house and got 30 years mortgage.
2. BSN Number
The citizen service number (BSN) is a unique number as our identification in the Netherlands. After we get the accommodation-rent contract letter then we can register BSN Number as this is mandatory. Some cities in the Netherlands have an expat centre and we can make an appointment to register for the BSN Number. Otherwise, you can make an appointment in the city council and register.
It took less than 15 minutes for me to get the BSN number in the Leiden expat centre. The officer also asked for a birth certificate but because I don’t have the Dutch certified copy, they still gave me my BSN number.
But my advice is while you’re still at your home country, you still can do translation/ apostille for your birth certificate. Administrative procedure and process in the Netherlands are really subjective. It depends on the officer who provides the service. My experience in Leiden was not difficult at all, but then I moved to Amersfoort and faced challenging experience in dealing with administrative processes in the municipality. So, better to complete all documents.
DigiD is Digital Identification. We need DigiD to access services from government websites online in the Netherlands. We also need DigiD for insurance registration or process-related matters.
You can apply DigiD online in https://www.digid.nl/en
I applied for DigiD then received a confirmation paper letter in less than a week with an authorisation code. I input the code online then activated my account directly.
4. Bank Account
I also didn’t face any difficulties when opening a bank account as some people experienced and told in their blogs. I haven’t got any job when opening my bank account in Rabobank. I got my current job after being in the country for 2 months.
I made an appointment with two banks, ABN Amro and Rabobank. ABN Amro actually agreed to set up an appointment time but there were so many forms to be fulfilled and I needed to scan identity documents. They then needed to approve this before the appointment. So I just went to Rabobank, told the officer that I need to open a bank account as a requirement for my employment contract. I provided my copy of passport, residence permit and accommodation rent contract to show that I reside in the neighbourhood. The address is also important for any necessary communication, including sending the ATM card.
E-commerce payment system used in the Netherlands is called iDEAL. The bank will give us an individual scanner that needs to be used when we make a transaction with the debit card. No CVV number is included.
Most of the shops don’t take VISA/ Mastercard payment as the local bank card is Maestro. However, we still can take money from a foreign bank account in the ATM machine and pay them cash before we have a local bank account.
5. TB Test
TB test is only applied if we’re from the countries who are required to undergo a TB test. The country list can be found here.
When we submit the Orientation Year Visa application, we also sign the form to undergo the TBC test. Within three months after we arrive in the Netherlands, we need to make an appointment with the Area Health Service (GGD) to do the TB Test. We need to bring the TB Test Referral Form to the appointment. The GGD will fill the form and they will send it to the IND. It is free of charge.
The information about the TB Test and Referral form can be found here.
I did the TB test two months after I arrived. I called the local GGD then made an appointment. It only took less than 20 minutes when they filled the information in the form, put it in their online system and scanned the chest in the lab. We don’t need to do anything after the check, as GGD will communicate with IND directly.
We will need to do the check five times. The GGD will send us the letter to our address to inform us about the time for the appointment. I have already done my second check.
Health insurance is compulsory for all people who live or work in the Netherlands. We must take out Dutch health insurance within four months of receiving our residence permit. I have heard some cases when people don’t take the basic Dutch health insurance and the government becomes aware, they will send a letter asking to sign up for the insurance within three months. If after that you still don’t register for insurance, then you need to pay a fine.
You can use this website to compare insurance price and coverage:
7. 30% Ruling
Tax is quite high in the Netherlands. I was shocked when I first saw my salary slip. It happens to anybody, so nothing to complain. But compared to other countries (especially the UK), I think the salary level in the Netherlands is a better and decent amount.
It’s not a hundred per cent accurate, but you still can use this site to calculate tax and deduction from the salary.
However, there is a 30% ruling scheme. This is a tax advantage for highly skilled migrants moving to the Netherlands for a specific employment role. So the salary tax is reduced by 30% and the employee will receive a 30% tax reduction as reimbursement for expenses. It means the gross salary will be 30% more (from tax deduction).
It is only applied if we are recruited from abroad and when we move to the Netherlands, we already are in the employment status with the employer. If we come unemployed and get a job when we already stay in the country, then 30% ruling is not applicable to us. In my situation, I don’t get 30% ruling as I was already in the Netherlands when I started my job.
I’m glad that I didn’t experience any significant difficulties when dealing with the administration process. In my opinion, I guess the Netherlands is quite systemised and all detail information can be accessed easily.