first steps

Moving to your new, adopted city of Rotterdam can be a stressful time. But worry not! The team at ISR have put together all the helpful tips you will need to enable you to make your transition as smooth as possible.

Anyone moving to a new city within the Netherlands is required to register with the Municipality in which they will now live. In doing so, you will also be provided with your personal ‘Burgerservicenummer’, which acts as your social security number. In Rotterdam you will have to register at the Town Hall located on the main street of Coolsingel, using the side entrance opposite the Police Station on Doelwater. You will be able to either make an appointment through your Educational Institute or through the Municipality (instructions below). We advise that you make the appointment as soon as possible so you can get the most administrative part of moving out of the way.

How to register at the Municipality:

1. MAKE AN APPOINTMENT

Call +31 10 267 16 25  and ask for an appointment at the Town Hall which is at Stad­swinkel Centrum. More information here.

2. COMPLETE REGISTRATION FORM

This is best done before your arrival; it can be either obtained from the Town Hall or through here

3. VALID PASSPORT OR VALID IDENTITY CARD

Original version of your latest passport or latest identity card.

4. BIRTH CERTIFICATE

Original birth certificate or a recent copy (from the last 3 months) that has been authenticated or with an apostille.

5. TENANCY AGREEMENT

Tenancy agreement (verhuurdersverklaring), where applicable, or a declaration from the main occupant (verklaring Inwoning) or rental contract (huurcontract). Both can be found here if not provided by your landlord.

6. DUTCH RESIDENCE PERMIT

Dutch Residence Permit (For Non-EU/EEA students only) – or a letter stating that you have an appointment to apply for a residence permit.

7. PROOF OF ENROLLMENT

Proof of enrollment given by your educational institute. You will usually receive this by mail upon completion of the enrollment. If not, request one from your Educational Institution.

Tip: We advise that as you will probably need this number at various points during your time here in Rotterdam, it’s wise to save it in your phone so you can always have it on hand. Please be aware that it is a legal requirement to register with the Municipality and you will need it to be permitted to work, open a bank account, make use of a hospital or doctors, and to apply for benefits.

REGISTRATION FOR DIGID

You will soon find out that most government services in the Netherlands are available online and some services are only available online. To ensure the safety of information transference online, the Dutch authorities will ask you for your DigiD. The DigiD is your identification name and password for websites of governmental and national organizations (e.g. city hall, tax authorities, health insurance providers and universities). The DigiD is linked to your social security number (BSN or sometimes referred to as Sofi number), your name, address and birthday – to make sure you are who you say you are when you log on to government websites.

It’s not only useful to have a DigiD, but sometimes it’s the only way to access information and registration procedures. For example, in order to complete university registration, the Dutch Higher Education Authority (DUO) requires you to enlist with a DigiD. You can apply for a DigiD account on the official website of the DigiD. The English version of the website www.digid.nl has helpful and clear information and frequently asked question in English; unfortunately, the application itself is in Dutch. Once you have filled in your details, you will receive an activation code in the post within one week. You will need to fill in your code in the activation section in the DigiD website. Once your DigiD is activated, you will be able to access all DigiD requiring websites with your username and password.

Although in Dutch, instructions are easy to follow. Thereafter, you will need to choose your Username (Gebruikersnaam) and Password (Wachtwoord). Write these details down and do not forget them. They are very important because you will have to use them often!

DIGID FORM TRANSLATIONS

BURGERSERVICENUMMER – Social security number/BSN/Sofi

 GEBOORTEDATUM – Birthday

 POSTALCODE – Postcode (e.g. 1234AB)

 HUISNUMMER EN TOEVOEGING – House number and affix (e.g.123A)

 GEBRUIKERSNAAM – Username

 WACHTWOORD – Password

REGISTRATION FOR STUDIELINK

StudieLink is a website that belongs to the Dutch Education Authority (DUO). It’s entirely in English and very easy to follow. Any queries should be directed to your potential educational institute. It is less relevant for exchange students, but very important for full-time students that choose to study a Bachelor or Master’s education. StudieLink is an important administrative tool, and each student in the Netherlands needs to know how to use it. It is a mandatory requirement to be registered via Studielink for every educational institution. You must be registered via Studielink for your current study year and for each year you wish to continue studying in the Netherlands. It does not happen automatically and you MUST REMEMBER to do so.

To complete the process, you will need to upload your past diplomas, current address, and your educational details. This website also facilitates other governmental issues such as study financing and other student-related administrative affairs. It’s important to know that without a registration in Studielink, you will not be officially registered in your Educational Institution, and thus will not be regarded as a student by the government.

If you are an EU/EEA citizen, you need a valid passport and proof of address in order to open a bank account. Some banks may, in addition, ask for a Citizen Service Number (BSN), and even proof of a residence permit application. In addition, non-EU/EEA citizens are sometimes requested to bring evidence of registration with the foreign police. The largest banks in The Netherlands are ABN-AMRO, ING (Postbank), Rabobank, and SNS. For a nearby office refer to their official websites.

Tip: We advise that when choosing a bank, take the following into account: ABN-AMRO is the only bank with online banking in English. ING and Rabobank do, however, offer an English App for Smart-phones.

You have the choice between getting a pay as you go Sim Card or choosing a subscription.

Prepaid SIM

The advantage of this is that you are not tied down to paying a fixed cost every month, you can dispose of it once your stay is over and you can add internet or just call minutes.

The disadvantage of this option is that the costs of the package is highly inflated and you will end up paying more for call time than with a subscription. You will also have to ensure that you have an already unlocked phone otherwise the sim card will not work. Also be aware that many pre-paid sims do not run on 4G.

We advise using a Lebara sim which you can easily get by ordering for free online (you can have it ordered to your new address, so you’re ready to go as soon as you arrive), by finding the man with the wondering trolley who gives them out for free in the city centre, or by buying one in a local supermarket or department store. They offer cheaper rates for calling abroad, whilst you’ll probably use WiFi to contact people in your home country, this feature is useful for emergencies or quick phone calls. You can also top up online using paypal (useful for its safety) or you can buy credit in  supermarkets and drugstores.

Subscription

The advantage is that you can get a full bundle of texts, calls and internet at a much cheaper cost and can tie a phone into the contract as well. Additionally, if you already have an unlocked mobile phone you can just get the sim with the bundles you need.

The disadvantage is that you will be tied to a contract that you will have to pay consistently otherwise you’ll be charged interest. If you have not factored this additional cost into your budget then you might find that it is quite expensive. Additionally you will be tied to the contract for at least a year and if your stay isn’t that long you will still have to incur the cost even if you don’t use it.

Tip: We advise heading into a comparison shop such as the Phone House (or even on their online store where google translate should be able to help you) where they can show you a variety of contracts that will best suit your needs. Alternatively you can have a look online at providers such as Vodafone or T-Mobile and pre-order them to come when you arrive.

What is it and how can I get it?

Student financing is a right that Dutch and European full time students in higher educational institutes such as University and University of Applied Science (Hogeschool) are eligible for.

There are three general limits for this financing allowance: you have to be under 30, you will have finished your education within 7 years, and you have to have an EU nationality.

If you are from the EU, you must be employed for at 56 hours a month with a registered Dutch employer to be able to apply.

If you are not Dutch nor from the EU, but you have a residence permit that gives you the same rights (for example, if you have a partner’s visa or a work visa), you are also eligible to apply for student financing. To make sure you can always check it out via DUO (The Dutch Education Authority).

If you are starting your education in September 2015, the financing possibility is made up of three parts: a loan, a travel product (student OV-Chipkaart) and supplementary help that depends on your parents income. The maximum monthly amount that you are allowed to borrow is € 1,016, however, this amount also includes the supplementary help of up to € 390. This is the only part that becomes a gift/grant if you finish your education within 5 years. In the past, the whole study financing payment was a grant. These rules no longer apply, therefore do keep this in mind  if you apply for study financing assistance from the Dutch government – you will have to pay off the loan eventually within the generous term of 35 years. Even if you do not require the loan, it is worthwhile applying to have a student OV-Chipkaart, as it allows free or discounted travel on all public transportation within The Netherlands.

Tip: We advise applying for student finance three months in advance, as it takes a while to process requests. You will need to use your DigiD and your social security number (BSN) to apply online. The governmental authority in charge of Study financing is DUO and you can find more general information and the application in English in their website.

Rent Allowance / Huurtoeslag

What is it and how can I get it?

The Dutch government offers a rent allowance for students as a way to support low income citizens in the case they have to pay a  higher rent. As it can sometimes be  hard to find a suitable place to live within your budget.

This allowance does come with requirements: your residence period in The Netherlands has to have a duration of a year, you must be registered in the city hall (Gemeente) and you must be Dutch or have a valid residence permit. This allowance is only available for rented units, so a shared accommodation is usually not eligible for this allowance, but an appartment is. There is also an income restriction, meaning that if you make more than a certain amount  (€1,829 a month if you live alone and combined salary of € 2,483 if you have roommates) you are not eligible for this allowance. Yes, you might get this allowance, but the rules and regulations about it are typically Dutch, meaning, with a lot of ifs and buts. Special circumstances such as being handicap or having a child mean the requirements are more lenient. In any case, it’s good to have a talk with someone at the city hall to help you best in your specific situation.

The general requirements and conditions are:

Your ageRequirements if you live aloneRequirements if you don’t live alone
Younger than 18Technically speaking, this allowance is only for those who are older than 18. However, some cases are exceptions. The cases are only if both parents are deceased, or the person is married, or has a child.In addition, your rent including fees you might be paying for cleaning the stairs in the building or other general costs is minimum € 225,08 and maximum of € 417,34 per month. Secondly, your yearly income is lower than € 21,950. Lastly, your property, including bank accounts, investments and other property is worth less than € 21,330. If you are handicapped, your rent requirement is up to a maximum of € 710.68.Technically speaking, this allowance is only for those who are older than 18. If you are living with others who are older than 18, they should apply for this allowance. However,  in some cases there are exceptions for those below 18. The cases are only if both parents are deceased, or the person is married, or has a child.In addition, your rent including fees you might be paying for cleaning the stairs in the building or other general costs is minimum € 225,08 and maximum of € 417,34 per month. If you have a child, your maximum rent can be up to € 710.68. Secondly, your combined yearly income is lower than € 21,950. Lastly, your property, including bank accounts, investments and other property is worth less than € 21,330. In case you are a single parent, you’re allowed to have more than that amount (the best is to ask at the gemeente about exact rules). In case you or any of the people you are living with are handicapped, your rent requirement is up to a maximum of € 710.68.
Between 18 – 23 years oldIf your rent including fees you might be paying for cleaning the stairs in the building or other general costs is minimum € 225,08 en maximum of € 417,34 per month. Secondly, your yearly income is lower than € 22.400. Lastly, your property, including bank accounts, investments and other property is worth less than € 30.000. In case you are handicapped, your rent requirement is up to a maximum of € 710.68.
Older than 23If your rent including fees you might be paying for cleaning the stairs in the building or other general costs is minimum € 225.08 and maximum of € 710.68 per month. Secondly, your yearly income is lower than € 22.400. Lastly, your property, including bank accounts, investments and other property is worth less than € 30.000.If your rent including fees you might be paying for cleaning the stairs in the building or other general costs is minimum € 225,08 en maximum of € 710.68 per month. Secondly, your combined yearly income is lower than € 22,400. Lastly, your property, including bank accounts, investments and other property is worth less than € 30,000. In case you are a single parent, you’re allowed to have more than that amount (the best is to ask at the gemeente about exact rules).

The application procedure for the allowance is through the tax authorities, and they are only in Dutch. So if you think you might be eligible, check out the at huurtoeslag section here.

Health Insurance Allowance/ Zorgtoeslag

What is it and how can I get it?

Just like with other allowances, you can get money back from the Dutch government if you are a student under the age of 30 with a valid residence permit. For this matter, you have to have basic Dutch health insurance (“Basiszorgverzekering”). In this case, you can apply for a health care allowance and get a monthly sum of up to 70 Euros. However, if you are insured by an independent policy such as AON or Lippmann you will not be eligible, you will also not be able to make any claims if you earn more than €1,700 a month. This can be done through the Dutch websiteAdditionally, you can go through the instructions on this website where the information on how to fill out the form and how to obtain a paper copy has been translated into English here.

Health Insurance

Basiszorgverzekering

This package covers not only basic medical costs such as visits to the general practitioner, costs for hospitalization, medications, and most medical treatments – but also more “leisure” types of treatments, such as new glasses every two years, alternative medicine, and other preventative medical treatments like blood tests. The average cost of taking out this insurance is around €100 per month depending on whether you require additional packages to visit specialist doctors. For information about the health insurance allowance, check here.

There are various companies that offer this package, however you should try to choose one that can give you service in English. For example, you can find English information on the website of the insurer IAK.

All in all, the best way to compare all the packages is through here. This website is in English and provides objective information about prices, coverages and other features. Another good source is this.

Dental care: emergency Vs regular dental care

Dental care will be automatically covered in all insurances described above only if its a medical emergency, for example, if someone fell off a bike and broke his/her jaw. This is not meant for aesthetic reasons, for example, if you just have a chipped tooth you’d like to fix – that is considered regular/standard dental insurance. Regular dental care is NOT included in either package, and you must add this to your package with a supplementary payment. If you would like to insure yourself against dental care costs and even other medical expenses, you must take out supplementary insurance ‘Aanvullende’. This additional Dental Insurance is usually around an additional €11- €26 per month depending on the level of dental care that you require.

EHIC

For European students that will not be working in The Netherlands

If you are an EU/EEA citizen, or a citizen of a country that has a health care treaty with The Netherlands, and you already know you will not be working in The Netherlands, then your home insurance is considered your `European Health Insurance Card` (EHIC). This insurance is enough to be covered in The Netherlands, allowing you to receive the same public healthcare as a resident in all EU/EEA countries (including Switzerland), either for free or for a reduced cost. However, it is important to note that the EHIC is not a replacement for travel insurance and does not cover anything else such as stolen items. The EHIC covers any medical treatment that you might need during your stay due to sickness or an accident; it also includes the necessary treatment of chronic or pre-existing medical conditions.

More information on the EHIC is available on the website of the European Commission, it is sensible to get one of these cards in case of an accident or emergency whilst you are traveling in Europe.

Liability and Contents Insurance

Everyone in The Netherlands is insured with multiple and various insurances beyond the legally binding health insurance. In other words, liability insurance is NOT mandatory like health insurance, but it is helpful as it covers you in case you damage something that belongs to someone else or something of yours is stolen. For example, if you are sitting in a cafe and you accidentally spill coffee on someone else’s laptop, or if you are at a friend’s house and you unintentionally break your friend’s lamp – or if you accidentally break your homeowner’s lamp in the place you rent. The insurance coverage also includes accidents (on the road for example) or other types of damages you might cause to people or their property that can end up being very expensive for you to pay on your own.

With liability insurance, you will be able to claim these costs up to a certain amount. This amount is usually a very high amount there is no chance you will ever actually need to claim (unless you visit NASA and accidentally tip over a shuttle maybe).

Who offers this type of insurance?

Who doesn’t? Your bank, your health insurance company, and every other insurance company in The Netherlands has some sort of liability insurance. The costs are usually very low but having your peace of mind intact throughout your stay will be priceless.

Each company will have its own policy and conditions for this insurance, but they are usually very generous and fair, you can expect to pay around €4 .

Tip: We advise that you again head over to our favourite comparison site where you can find the type of insurance that you need based on age, income and the value of the things you wish to insure.

Household Contents Insurance ‘Inboedelverzekering’

Just like liability insurance, this insurance is not mandatory but it will give you peace of mind in case something happens. Burglary, fire, flood or any other damage or loss of your property that is beyond your control will be covered by this insurance. In case of damage or loss, the insurance company will ask you to ensure that you do anything reasonably within your power to prevent damage by locking your doors to prevent theft or leaving candles burning. However, this is usually only applicable to homeowners as Liability Insurance covers loss, damage and theft of your goods.

Tip: We advise that you head over to our favourite comparison site where you can find the type of insurance that will suit your situation if you are privately renting your accommodation your landlord may want to take this insurance out for extra protection at a minimal cost of around €2.50.

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