Opening a bank account
Now that you have registered and have a Citizen Service Number (BSN), you should not encounter any problems with day-to-day administrative activities. This section will cover the general steps needed to open a bank account and receive a debit card (pinpas)*. Once you have a Dutch bank account, you can apply for health insurance and make arrangements to receive your wages and pay taxes in the Netherlands.
What you need to open a bank account:
* Citizen Service Number (BSN)
* Valid form of identification (passport or EU national identity card are preferable)
* Residency documents: a provisional residence permit (MVV) or residence permit
* An appointment with your chosen bank
* Some form of deposit for your new bank account
* An employment contract, if applicable
Make an appointment with the bank of your choice. There are many to choose from in the Netherlands and most have websites in English; many also offer their forms in English, and some have dedicated expat services. If their website is not clear to you, or if you are having difficulty figuring it out, look for the words ‘afspraak maken’ (make an appointment) and click on the button or link to navigate to the appropriate page and contact details. Please note that punctuality is a priority in Dutch culture; ideally, you should try to be there five minutes before your scheduled appointment time.
Popular Dutch banks
During your appointment, the bank staff will confirm your details, check your ID and make copies for security purposes. If you are living in short-term accommodation to start out and are planning on moving to a different apartment, don’t forget to change your address with the bank! This is easily done online in most cases.
How long does the process take?
The process is completed very quickly and your bank account will be set up by the end of your appointment. You may then proceed to the bank teller to deposit money if you wish. You will receive your debit card (pinpas) in the post a few days afterwards. You will also receive your authorisation code (PIN) for your debit card by post, but this usually occurs in a separate delivery. Depending on your bank, you may also receive a small electronic device which acts as a security measure for your online transactions with the bank. In the Netherlands, this device is also used to confirm transactions on Dutch websites that use the iDEAL payment protocol, for instance to pay bills and shop online in Dutch webshops. Examples include concert tickets, clothing and takeaway food that you order online.
*A quick note on the debit card in Dutch life
In many countries, cash is king, with credit cards as the second choice; in the Netherlands, however, having a debit card (pinpas) is quite important. Many smaller shops and cafés will only accept payment by debit card and will not accept payment via a credit card for the same transaction. In fact, many places will display a sticker that says ‘Hier alleen pinnen’ (debit cards only) in the window or on the door. To avoid embarrassment in the early stages of your move, it is advisable to check if you can pay with cash in the shop before attempting to make a purchase. Staff in shops and cafés will not find this question strange.
The debit cards issued in the Netherlands are all Maestro cards. If you have a Maestro card issued from another bank in another country, you might be able to use your foreign debit card without any problems. However, if you only have a credit card or debit card from Visa, Visa Debit, MasterCard or American Express, it is recommended you get a debit card from your Dutch bank as soon as possible. Once you do, you will soon find that, like the Dutch, you no longer carry as much change or cash as you used to – and you will probably like it.