The BSN or burgerservicenummer
Quite an interesting experience moving from a country where people don`t even have their name on the door, and are quite worried about their personal data such as in the UK, to a country with central administration.
Without a BSN number (burgerservicenummer) or citizen service number you are nothing in the Netherlands. It is not only for the Dutch tax system as you may assume.
You won`t get a mobile phone contract, bank account nor can you get healthcare, apply for benefits and so on. The BSN number identifies you and is used for all sorts of services including tax, banking, healthcare, schooling and so on. It is basically a personal records database run by your Dutch municipality. Your BSN is a unique number which you should keep confidential. A social security number would be the equivalent in other countries.
Important, your employer can`t payroll you without your BSN! To get a BSN is the single most important thing to do when you arrive.
How do you get your BSN (burgerservicenummer)
You will get one either at the local municipality office, you will have to make an appointment, or if you move to Amsterdam, you can use the services of IN Amsterdam. The latter I would advise as they will guide you through the process and you leave the meeting with your BSN.
If you are a European Citizen you just need to bring your passport, birth certificate, tenancy agreement or a form signed by your landlord. In the beginning, it is also possible to temporarily use your employer`s address, for which you also need a form. Once you are registered with your municipality they will write to you to confirm that you have been added to their register.
Got your BSN - all systems are on go
Once you obtain your BSN life gets quite easy. You can just walk into a bank open a bank account, get a mobile phone contract and so on. By the way, if you use IN Amsterdam, just next door you find ABN Amro`s international branch where staff speak English, German, Spanish and so on.
Be careful with accommodation
Be careful when you sort out your accommodation. Make sure to check with the landlord that you can register at their address. Often they don`t tell you that this is not possible. Stay away if that is the case as you have to be able to register where you live. It is a legal obligation to always register your current address and the Dutch authorities are not shy to hand out fines.
So now everybody knows where I live and authorities can check my BSN and address. It is like being back in old Germany. Have to get used to this again...