Registration in the Netherlands: the complete guide for 2022

Fresh off the plane? Welcome! 🇳🇱 If you’re feeling a bit lost and aren’t sure what you’re meant to do next, don’t stress — we’re here to help. First things first, let’s get you registered in the Netherlands.

Not sure what that means? As we say here in the Netherlands, geen probleem. We promise registering at a Dutch municipality isn’t as difficult as you think.

Registering in the Netherlands: what is it?

Once you arrive in the Netherlands (EU national or not), you must register at the town hall in the area in which you will live. This is necessary if you plan to work or study in the Netherlands and/or are staying for over four months.

Once you register, you are marked as a legal resident of your municipality. You can register in two ways:

  • From abroad: you can make an appointment to “register abroad” and they prepare you for what you need to bring with you.
  • On arrival: as soon as you arrive and seal the deal with a property, you can make an appointment and register as soon as possible.

Why do I have to register in the Netherlands?

Registering is essential for getting life started in the Netherlands.

When you register you are making your presence known in a specific household. This helps the Municipal Personal Records Database (BRP) keep track of how much tax a household must pay, manage emergencies, and monitor the Dutch population. Registering is mandatory, and you can be fined if you don’t register, or falsify your registration.

Once you have registered, you will receive a burgerservicenummer (BSN). This handy number will let you apply for almost everything you need for life in the Netherlands.

What is a burgerservicenummer (BSN) — and why do I need one?

Once you register, you are given a unique nine-digit code. This is your BSN (or citizen’s service number), and it is sacred. Your BSN helps the Dutch government to identify you whenever you have dealings with them, for example, when you have to pay tax.

Until you have your BSN, you can’t do other necessary basic things in the Netherlands, like:

In order to apply for any of these things, you need those magic nine digits.

Penalties for failing to register in the Netherlands

Avoiding that simple trip to your municipality office is not without consequences. If you move to the Netherlands and plan on staying longer than four months, you are legally required to register your address. If you fail to register, you risk being fined €325.

This also applies if you change your address and fail to notify the municipality on time, or if you have given the incorrect address.

The municipality will launch investigations if they believe there’s a chance someone has given the wrong address/ is living illegally at an address. So if you don’t want bureaucrats knocking at your door (or the wrong door) — register.

How do I register in the Netherlands?

First things first: the government says that you must register within five days of your arrival in the Netherlands. That means you may need to make your appointment before you arrive.

To take the first step, just Google “registration ______” (insert city you live in, e.g. Rotterdam) and you’ll find the correct municipality. We also have a handy list below of the main municipality contact details.

Depending on the municipality, you will either have to call to make an appointment or fill out an online form. You can find the appropriate phone numbers and website links below.

Once you call or apply online you will be given a date and time to come to the municipality office. Now all that’s left to do is gather your things and turn up to the meeting!

Tip: Pssst! Haven’t learned Dutch? No problem! It’s easy to make an appointment in English.

photo-the-hague-municipality-main-building
The Hague municipal building or ‘stadhuis’. Image: Depositphotos

What documents do I need to register in the Netherlands?

The fateful day has arrived, so what do you have to bring to your appointment? Here’s a list of everything you will need:

  • Valid ID: such an as identity card or passport (in date)
  • Your original birth certificate: this needs to be translated in either English or Dutch and legalised with an apostille. (Some government employees will request this, and others won’t, but you should bring it no matter what).
  • Any other legalised documents: such as marriage or divorce certificates, if applicable.
  • Your letter of enrolment: if you’re a student
  • Your tenancy agreement: showing that you are living at the specified address

Note: Some people don’t realise that depending on where you are registering, there are sometimes no appointments available for weeks. So not only is it important to register but try and register on time too.

Help! Can I register in the Netherlands without a permanent address?

If you have arrived in the Netherlands and you’re struggling to find housing (a common struggle, unfortunately) then fear not. You can still register using a correspondence address.

How does this work? Allow us to explain.

If you need to register but haven’t found a permanent residence yet, then you can turn to your family or colleagues and register with their address.

The address must be residential so you can’t just use your office building. On top of this, the address must be recognised as legitimate by the BRP.

photo-historic-dutch-red-mailbox
Make sure you have somewhere that the municipality can send letters! Even if your mailbox isn’t as pretty as this one. Image: Depositphotos

Once you’ve sourced a suitable address, you must head to the municipality office for the address with your relevant papers to apply for a correspondence address. The “relevant papers” depend on the municipality, so make sure to check their website!

This solution is only temporary, but it allows you to receive a BSN and continue setting up everything else that is involved with moving to the Netherlands.

Do I need to register for a short stay in the Netherlands?

If you’re moving to the Netherlands for less than four months (and aren’t just a tourist travelling around) then you still need to register as a non-resident in an RNI municipality.

An RNI is a municipality that has the ability to enter you into the non-resident’s database.

To find out which municipalities you can register at as a non-resident, here’s a government list

How to register a change of address with a Dutch municipality

Let’s say you’ve managed to figure it all out — you have your BSN, you’re a registered citizen, everything is in order — but you’re about to change address. You have to notify your municipality office, even if you’re moving within the same municipality (we know, we know, it’s a pain.)

This is because the municipality must always have your current address. Also, it’s for your own sake — the last thing you want is for any important letters to go missing (something you can get fined for!) Next thing you know you’ll find that you owe the municipality taxes that were never paid.

Why do I need to deregister when I leave the Netherlands?

If you’re looking to romanticise your life by dropping everything at once and dashing off to a different region/country — then just make sure to pop into your local municipality office during the montage.

If you leave the Netherlands without telling anyone in the municipality, the municipality is going to assume you’re still living there. This becomes a problem when somebody notices that you don’t have health insurance, or haven’t paid tax — both mandatory when living in the Netherlands.

photo-woman-looking-out-the-window-at-airport
Getting ready for your next adventure? Image: Depositphotos

A letter will be sent to your address informing you of which health insurance you are receiving and then voila! You will be expected to pay the bill. Next thing you know, you’re frolicking across foreign hills and accumulating hundreds of euros in health insurance fees.

How do I deregister from my local municipality?

The process of deregistering in the Netherlands varies depending on your municipality.

Sometimes this process can be done in writing. You can send a letter listing the names of your family members who will be leaving, your old and new address and a copy of a valid I.D.

In other cases, you and any other departing family member above the age of 16 must fill out a form and report to the municipality in person.

It’s also important to note that municipalities will often have a required notice period when processing departures. This means that in some cases, you must deregister no more than five days before you leave the Netherlands. We recommend you check your local municipality’s website for any notice period.

Where can I register and deregister in the Netherlands?

Ready to march into that municipality office? Great! Here’s some contact information. With 355 municipalities in the Netherlands, we can’t list every single one, but here are some of the main hotspots for expats.

Tip: If your municipality isn’t listed, just Google “[city name] registration” or “[city name] gemeente.”

MunicipalityLocal PhoneInternational PhoneWebsite
Amsterdam 14 020 +31 20 624 1111Amsterdam Gemeente
Den Haag14 070 +31 70 353 30 00Den Haag Gemeente
Rotterdam 14 010(010) 267 16 25Rotterdam Gemeente
Utrecht14 030030 – 286 00 00Utrecht Gemeente
Groningen14 050+31 (0) 88 043 04 30Groningen Gemeente
Maastricht 14 043+31 43 350 4040Maastricht Gemeente
Leiden14 071 +31 71 516 51 65Leiden Gemeente
Eindhoven14 040 +31 40 238 6000Eindhoven Gemeente

Registering in the Netherlands: handy Dutch vocabulary

DutchEnglish
GemeenteMunicipality
Inschrijven / InschrijvingRegister / Registration
Inschrijven vanuit het buitenlandRegister from abroad
Burgerservicenummer (BSN)Citizen service number
Basisregistratie personenPersonal Records Database
Het gemeentehuis / het stadhuisThe city hall
LegalisatieLegalisation
AfspraakAppointment

Have you registered in the Netherlands before? How did you find the experience? Tell us in the comments below!

Editor’s Note: This article was originally published in October 2020 and was fully updated in May 2022 for your reading pleasure. 

Feature Image:Unsplash
Sarah O'Leary 🇮🇪
Sarah O'Leary 🇮🇪
Sarah originally arrived in the Netherlands due to an inability to make her own decisions — she was simply told by her mother to choose the Netherlands for Erasmus. Life here has been challenging (have you heard the language) but brilliant for Sarah, and she loves to write about it. When Sarah is not acting as a safety threat to herself and others (cycling), you can find her sitting in a corner of Leiden with a coffee, trying to sound witty.

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10 COMMENTS

  1. Hello. I have a couple a question.

    I did my registration in a agency accomodation. The problem is, I have to change job, but the other agencies doesn’t allow me make the registration on their accomodations. Obviusly, if I leave my current accomodation, I lose my registration here. What kind of problems could I have if I go to another accomodation without be registered?

  2. Hi , my name is Alex, i am and EU citizen living in Nederlands for the pass 4 years , according to this topic, wich is helpful, I saw and common thing at the landlords and I want to know if this thing is legal and if they make a illegality because is start to be often and annoying. “Inschrijven op die Gemeente is is NIET mogelijk” if is an abuse people should know and report this kind of bad behavior!
    Thank you!

    • Hi Dear Alex, I had spoked to a lawyer about this , at this point he told me that the only thing you can do is to try to presss the tenant saying you are taking of my right to be registered since i am payng for the room . but sthill if they do not let you register in the room thats the way it is. I am agree with you should be exist any type of pre procedure to enforce geemente that if the tenant allows you to stay and pay for it then must be mandatory to have registration it does not make any sense at aoll!!

  3. Hi Sarah! This was so helpful and answered all questions i had about registration. Only wish there was a guide like this to find accommodation. Sigh. *Prospective Amsterdam student*

  4. For me, after nearly One year – 7 days left, as we speak – the language is the real challenge!
    Winter is the second biggest issue, speaking as a South European Citizen. Winter can/is depressing duo to hours of daylight, not the Rain, Snow or wind, that we can manage, the best we can.
    House Rental can be a pain, specially One that fullfills, all the requirements needed: adress registration ( without that you can pass to some hard Times ) for health insurance – mandatory btw – and any other kind of allowances such as, health insurance, house rent, childcare…
    Registration and later the Dgid APP, is the way to go. Your perspective Will change.
    Because when you get that, a whole new world is here.
    Resuming, what puts me down, most part of the Times, is the language.
    In terms of living cost, not a scandall, if I compare it to my Country right now.
    If you nail the language, here is a country for you

  5. Hey there! Just two questions regarding my current situation.
    So, I secured a 6-month job in the NL with the possibility of a 3-year extension in September.
    However, my housing contract ends in July and I still haven’t found a place to stay (I’m staying at a friend’s house for a couple of months). The thing is, I’m gonna loose the “address” since I won’t be registered in the apartment I’m currently renting due to the termination of the housing contract.

    Will it be possible for my company to extend my contract without me having a legit address on my name?

    Will my BSN be still active after the deregistration?

    Thanks a lot!

  6. Not true. They say many times registration is mandatory but that is a lie. Recently a government official said on TV that it is a real problem that there is no legislation to do so. The city of Hague for example, is struggling with people living in the city not registered, the spokesman said. It is no more than a desire to register. Effectively no penalties were ever given. Technically they cannot do much about it since one can stay somewhere for various reasons other than being a permanent resident.

    • I do not understand completely to whom you are responding and what does it mean this #Technically they cannot do much about it since one can stay somewhere for various reasons other than being a permanent resident.

  7. Hi! I have some questions?

    I have a BSN number and RNI. But from now i will be living more than 4 months. Currently i am living in hotel in hotel. Can i have a BRP in this case? I dont have anybody to use their adress. I saw some ads in people who sells their address but goverment says dont use that way. If you know something about this situation please let me know thank you!

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