The Leidener

A Blog by International Students at Leiden University

Saving money when moving to Leiden (or living in Leiden) – part 3: housing grants

meme-about-bureaucracy

Here it is: part 3 of my series on how to save money when moving to Leiden. In case you missed the first two installments of this series, click here and here and learn about tips and tricks on how to make your life in the Netherlands a tiny bit easier.

This week I want to focus on the process of applying for housing grants (huurtoeslag) in the Netherlands. Housing grants can make a real difference in the budget of an international student in this city (up to 260€/month) and if you qualify for it, there is no reason why you should not apply for them.

You might be thinking: “free money, seriously? what’s the catch?” – let me assure you, there is none! The only thing you need to be prepared for is that in order to receive the grants, the Dutch government will really make you work hard for it. Because the application process is quite difficult to sift through and most parts are exclusively in Dutch, a lot of people shy away from even trying, which is a big mistake in my opinion. What I found quite amusing is that the application process does not only appear to pose a problem for internationals but there are even Dutch companies who offer to fill in and correct huurtoeslag applications in exchange for money, which must mean that even locals struggle with all the bureaucracy involved in receiving government grants.

Here are the requirements you need to fulfil in order to qualify for huurtoeslag (ATTENTION: the system is built in a way that you could theoretically enter false data and still get the money you apply for. However, once they check your application and see that you illegitimately received funds they will make you pay back every cent of it, so really only apply if you are sure that you pass the following criteria):

– you need to be an EU citizen or have a valid residence permit
– your address must be registered with the municipality (check with you housing agency/organisation if this is possible for your accomodation)
– you need to have a BSN (citizen service number) number with the local council
– you need a Dutch bank account and a bank statement which serves as your proof of address
– in order to log into the web portal, you need a DigiD
– you must live in an “autonomous” apartment that has its own entrance door, toilet and kitchen
– if you are between 18 and 22 years old, your rent must be between 229,64€ and 403,06€
– if you are older than 22, your rent must be between 229,64€ and 710,68€

In any case, I would suggest you do a quick test calculation here in order to see if you qualify for huurtoeslag and how much money you would get. For all pages and documents that only come in Dutch there is one cardinal rule: Google Translate is your friend, just set up an immediate translation in Google Chrome and you should be able to manoeuvre around language issues quite well. The organisation dealing with the grant is called ‘Belastingdienst’ and although there is an English version of their webpage, it does not give you information on grants of any sort (I know, how cheeky is that!?).

Should above calculation tell you that you are eligible for funding, go ahead and start you application process here. In addition, this webpage was created to guide you through the registration process in English step-by-step and even though it’s from 2011 and thus a bit outdated, it should still be useful.

Here is some additional information on the application process:

– I recently learned (the hard way) that you can apply for every FULL month you’ve been registered in the Netherlands, so keep this in mind when filling in the start date of your huurtoeslag

– I was asked to come into the Belastingdienst office and provide payslips and some other documents as proof, I could choose between offices in Den Haag and Utrecht, for obvious reasons I chose the former.

– the letters you receive from Belastingsdienst will only be in Dutch. However, if you call them you can now speak English to service employees over the phone (until a short while ago they would tell you in beautiful English that due to company policy they are not allowed to converse with you in English).

– I recently heard that many people don’t apply because they think that huurtoeslag is only for people who live on their own and rent their own apartment – this is not true. You can also apply for the grant in collaboration with a partner, simply indicate this when going through the test calculation.

– once you have received the letter saying that your registration has gone through and you are eligible for huurtoeslag, you will have to wait another 6-12 weeks to receive a final letter, the so-called “voorschotbeschikking”. Once you have that in your hands, you made it! After receiving the voorschotbeschikking, you should have the money on your account within 10 working days (at least that’s what I was told).

fdo4rixm9xp1zw4zqfqd

voorschotbeschikking = success

Besides the housing grant you can also look into applying for this student grant if you work more than 56 hours per month or this insurance grant, where you can claim money back that you paid for private health insurance.

I hope these tips will help you and encourage you to wade through the bureaucratic jungle that is huurtoeslag and get the grants you apply for. Yes, the process might be a tad bit painful but it really pays off once you’re done with it.

Until next week, enjoy the paperwork!
Bernie

14 comments on “Saving money when moving to Leiden (or living in Leiden) – part 3: housing grants

  1. sabrina
    June 23, 2015

    hey, thanks for all your tips. do you by any chance know if the huurtoeslag and health insurance allowance is also for PhD’s who are getting paid by the university?
    cheers 🙂

    • Bernhard@theleidener
      June 24, 2015

      Hi Sabrina,

      you’re more than welcome 🙂

      Yes, everyone can get the huur- and zorgtoeslag, regardless of whether they are students, workers or researchers.

      • sabrina
        June 25, 2015

        thank you

    • Ina
      August 6, 2015

      Hi Sabrina – how did it turn out, are you eligible for the huurtoeslag?

      • sabrina
        September 7, 2015

        hi ina. i just started working this week and i don’t have an apartment yet, so i couldn’t really try yet

  2. sabrina
    July 11, 2015

    hello again. do you have any tipps for a good bank account and also mobile phone deals (i don’t really need it for phing or sms, just for using the internet) or maybe some other saving money tips for the daily life? 🙂

    • Bernhard@theleidener
      July 12, 2015

      Rabobank offers free and easy student accounts. Should you care about fair and sustainable banking, I would strongly recommend Triodos Bank – just because they are pretty awesome.

      Regarding phone contracts, I use Ben (ben.nl) because they offer contract-free packages which you can individually put together; especially for temporary students who don’t want to be tied to any contracts I think this is an unbeatable offer.

      “other saving money tips for the daily life” is a bit vague – if you can think of anything concrete I’ll be happy to be of assistance 🙂

  3. Matt Brown
    August 13, 2015

    Hi,

    This sounds really interesting, I’m wondering a couple of things though….

    1. How do I go about getting a Dgid number? I understood this was only for Dutch residents as it requires a burgerservicenummer. But perhaps I’m wrong? https://www.digid.nl/en/faq/#jfmulticontent_c915-1

    2. I will be living with four other house mates (who I don’t know) renting the room + communal facilities, would I still be eligible.

    Thanks for your blog and I’d also be interested in writing for the Leidener when I’m in town!

    Cheers,

    Matt

    • admin@theleidener
      August 14, 2015

      Hi Matt,
      When you arrive, please email c.j.barr@bb.leidenuniv.nl about blogging. That’s me and I’d be happy to discuss it.

      When any new resident arrives to The Netherlands, they must register with the Gemeente (municipality) at the local city hall within 5 days of arrival. To do so you need to have proof of where you are living and your passport. If you are non-EU there may be other documents needed (proof of residence permit application, university acceptance letter or more depending on the country). Once you register you can ask for a BSN number, which will then allow you to request a DigiD online.

      Students are only eligible to apply for Huurtoeslag if they live in an autonomous apartment. This means they have their own door with key lock, their own kitchen and their own toilet. Therefore it seems that communal living arrangements would not be eligible from what the website says.

      However, we look forward to having you in Leiden!!

      Carolyn Barr, Leiden University

  4. Clara
    July 22, 2016

    Hi, I know this is an old post but was wondering if you could help me. I’m moving to the Netherlands as an EU student and will be applying for huurtoeslag. Which documents other than payslips will I need to provide them with? Thanks!

    • admin@theleidener
      August 8, 2016

      Hi Clara, Once you arrive it’s best to contact our International Student Advisor who will put you in touch with the tax students on-campus that assist current students with the process. The International Student Advisor is Jantien Delwell and she can be reached at j.delwel@sea.leidenuniv.nl after August 14th.

      Best regards,
      Carolyn Barr

  5. Jitka P
    October 27, 2016

    Hello, thanks for this post! I have lived in Amsterdam in 2011, and have received huurtoeslag then. Now, 5 years later, I got a letter that they want half of the money back for reasons I don’t understand. Is there anyone I can talk to about it? Thank you very much.

    • admin@theleidener
      October 27, 2016

      Dear Jitka,

      You should request from those authorities why they have asked for repayment. It will depend on a number of factors. If you are still a student with Leiden University you might consider contacting the International Student Advisor, Jantien Delwel at Plexus to see if she can get you connected with the group of students on campus who help students with the huurtoeslag. If you are no longer a student, you could try the Jurischeloket to see if they can offer assistance.

      • Jitka
        October 28, 2016

        Thank you very much, will do.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Information

This entry was posted on March 26, 2015 by in Living in Holland, Practical Stuff, Student Life.
%d bloggers like this: