A Blog by International Students at Leiden University
The process of moving is daunting enough in the first place. Moving to a new country adds even more pressure to the process. There are a few crucial steps you need to take upon arrival in the Netherlands.
Step 1: Settle into your new city and move in.
The most important step to moving to a new place is to have somewhere to call home-base. Finding accommodation before you arrive is not a requirement, but it definitely makes the start to your journey that much easier. Leiden University offers housing options on their website – this is the best place to start your house-hunting. The next best places to look at are on the DUWO website, The Student Hotel and RoomPlaza, depending on your price range. Thereafter, Facebook groups such as Den Haag Housing are great options to find apartments and rooms to call your own.
Step 2: Register at the municipality
Whenever anyone moves to a new city in the Netherlands they are required to register at the municipality. This is to keep track of who is in the city and where they live. Thus, it is necessary to have an address. There is often a “student day” in which all the students of your city will be registering.
To register you will need to have with you: your accommodation contract, a confirmation of your acceptance at Leiden University, a copy of your ID or passport as well as a form which is accessible on the city website, for the Hauge use https://www.denhaag.nl/en.htm and for Leiden use https://gemeente.leiden.nl/. Once you have completed these steps you have applied for your BSN.
Step 3: Receive your BSN
This is your Burgerservicenummer which is essentially your identification number for your residence in the Netherlands.
With this BSN number you can create your DigiD. This is a form of online ID that allows you to access many services and websites in the Netherlands. It is very important for your StudieLink account. It has a username and password that will be linked to your BSN number. You can apply for your DigiD on the website www.digid.nl/en/ , but only once you have your BSN number.
Step 4: Get a Dutch phone number
There are two options facing you when getting a Dutch phone number. Either you can get a prepaid SIM card or a monthly subscription.
A prepaid SIM card gives you the freedom to avoid fixed monthly costs and buy data as you need it. However, they can eventually be costlier for the same services you would get through a monthly subscription.
A subscription allows you to tailor your account to your needs and take advantages of deals. However, it does tie you down to specific monthly costs and a designated time period for which you have to use the SIM card.
Step 5: Get a Dutch bank account
The importance and benefits of a Dutch bank account cannot be stressed enough. Many stores in the Netherlands only accept Dutch bank cards, and do not accept Visa. Leiden University cafes and vending machines are one of these places where Dutch cards are essential.
The biggest banks in the Netherlands are ING, Rabobank, ABN AMRO, Banq, SNS Bank, ASN Bank and Triodos. To make a bank account you can make an appointment online with one of these banks or just walk into the bank itself. Make sure you bring along to your appointment: your BSN number, an ID or passport, proof of residence and a residency permit if you are from outside the EU.
Many of these banks offer special rates for students that allow you get a cheaper bank plan.
Step 6: Bike time
The Netherlands is world renowned for their emphatic use of the bike. The first choice of transport is your bike. Come rain or sun, snow or sleet you will see the Dutch on their bikes. Thus, it is of great importance that you, yourself, own a bike.
There are many options for bikes. Swapfiets offers you a bike at a monthly cost of 12 euros. The perk of Swapfiets is that if there is something wrong with your bike you can get it repaired for free or change your bike for a new one.
If you want to be a proud bike owner, there are several bike shops around your city that will offer both new and second-hand bikes.
Step 7: Meet new people and enjoy
After all the admin here is the easy part. You have successfully completed all the nitty-gritty steps to moving to the Netherlands and it is now time to start studying and making friends. At international universities it is often easy to get to know people as they all want to make new friends and get to know one another. Embrace all of the first-year activities and events and immerse yourself into your new Dutch life!