A Blog by International Students at Leiden University
Two years ago, I was in the same position as many of you – I had also just begun my study, moved away from home and to a foreign country. I don’t know about you, but for myself and many of my peers this was my first time living away from home. I’d travelled by myself but never lived alone. I’m in the final year now of my study and these are the things that I probably should have done earlier to make my life a bit simpler.
I waited for so long before I got a DigiD. It stands for Digital Identity. It’s not mandatory, which probably explains why I left it so late, but it’s really helpful. Without a DigiD you can’t do anything online like apply for benefits, re-register your address, or apply for a tax exemption (all things that you can and should do!). It’s super easy to set up, taking only ten minutes online and another ten minutes once your confirmation arrives in the mail.
It took me so long to work out what I could get and not get from the government. Everything from travel discounts to healthcare benefits to tax exemptions. As a student, and likely not earning much money, you can apply for a health care benefit. It should cover most of the costs for your healthcare. It’s relatively easy to do but the whole website is in Dutch – A little bit of Google translate or a Dutch friend will be a great help!
This is dependent on where you are from. Generally if you are from the EU or have health insurance that gives you coverage in the Netherlands you will not need Dutch health insurance – but check with your government and the Dutch health insurance policy. If you are working or interning you will definitely need health insurance, if you don’t you might be charged €400 – which isn’t pretty!
There are lots of places and lots of sites which won’t take your MasterCard or Visa, including Albert Hejin. The best thing to do is set up a Dutch ban account, it’s incredibly convenient because you can easily tikkie some one (to send some one a payment request). The are also student accounts which means you don’t have to pay for the account. You will need your BSN number, your passport and proof of enrollment. You will need to make appointment online but it’s super easy!
Plenty of people don’t do this until they really need to go to visit the doctor or dentist but it really should be one of the first things you do. It’s easy enough to find one near you and compatible with your health insurer! Most practices will also speak English but the university can also recommend one!
It’s even more important in this current pandemic to be registered with your embassy because they can give you updates and hep you get home if you need to. It’s generally quite easy but this varies from embassy to embassy.
It’s so much easier to do this when you first arrive in the Netherlands than when it’s really close to an election. This can be much more of a time consuming job so best to start early! You need to discuss with your embassy or your home country how best to make voting arrangements. The difficulty varies from country to country but definitely worth doing.
It’s best to spend an afternoon doing all of these things when you first arrive. It’ll be a lot easier once you’ve gotten them out of the way. Do you have any recommendations for what I should add to the list? Comment below!