You’re about to start a new life: living and studying in Amsterdam! Read this step-by-step guide to find out what you need to do once you arrive in the Netherlands. Because of measures to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, we can’t greet you in person as we normally would, but we’re hoping this guide gets you off to a good start! Please note: some of these steps are mandatory.
Amsterdam has an extensive transport system, including trams, buses, trains, metros and ferries. Most public transport in Amsterdam is operated by the GVB.
The GVB in Amsterdam and the Dutch Railways (NS) are not the same operator. You can by single tickets but it is handy to travel using an OV-chipcard. With this card you can travel by train, bus, tram and metro - one card covers all possibilities!
An OV chipcard is a smart card that you add money to. You can buy one at the ticket office of most major train stations or at the yellow ticket machines. The ticket machines accept payment by debit and credit cards (V-Pay, Maestro, Mastercard, Visa and American Express) using pin and/or contactless. The machines do not accept banknotes.
If you want to travel by train, the minimum credit on your card must be €20. For all other public transport, no minimum amount is required on your card.
Plan your route
Need some help planning your route? Visit https://9292.nl/en to see what route is best! This covers all modes of transport.
Wear a mask
Because of the coronavirus, all passengers using public transport need to wear a face mask before boarding. You need to use your mask in the train, bus, tram and metro. Please maintain a 1,5-metre distance from fellow passengers.
Did you arrange your housing through the UvA? Our housing partners will welcome you to your new home while following strict coronavirus safety measures. Some housing providers offer a key pick-up service directly at your new home address. Other housing providers hand out the keys at their office near your new address. Please check with your own housing provider for details on your key pick-up.
Our housing providers are:
Key pick-up is possible during specific hours. You might need to stay in a hostel or hotel at your own expenses if you arrive outside of these hours.
As an international student, you are required to register as a resident if you plan to stay in the Netherlands for longer than four months. You must register in the town where you will live.
Please note that the criteria that you must register within 5 days is not applicable to students at the moment. Due to Covid-19 this is not always possible. However, please try to make an appointment within 5 days after arriving in the Netherlands.
Citizen service number (BSN)
Once you’ve registered, you will be given a citizen service number (burgerservicenummer, BSN). This is required for many things in the Netherlands, including opening a bank account, visiting a doctor or getting hospital treatment.
How to make an appointment to register
Register at the municipality Amsterdam
To register at the municipality Amsterdam you need to make an appointment. You can make this appointment using the link that will be available on this website after 14 August 2020.
What to bring:
You will receive your BSN the day you have your appointment.
Register at the municipality Diemen
To register at the municipality Diemen you do not need to make an appointment. You can register at the municipality on the following dates between 13:30 and 15:30 hrs.:
What to bring:
Please make sure you print out and fill in the required forms before you go to the city hall.
Address municipality Diemen:
D.J. Den Hartoglaan 1
1111 ZB Diemen
Because of strict coronavirus measures, the municipality allows max. 8 students to enter the building at the same time. If you arrive with more students at the same time, please wait outside for your turn.
You will receive your BSN by post at your address in the Netherlands within 2 to 3 weeks.
Cannot make it before 17 September?
After 17 September, you need to make an appointment for your registration by phone:
Register in other municipalities
Check on the website of your town or city to find out how to register and what you need to bring.
Once in the Netherlands, it’s useful to open a Dutch bank account. International money transfers are usually very expensive and take days to process. Also, credit cards are not widely accepted. With the debit card you receive when opening a Dutch bank account, it is easy and free of charge to pay at supermarkets, cafes and restaurants.
To open a Dutch bank account you will need:
Choose a bank
There a several banks in the Netherlands where you can open a student bank account. Not all banks offer English-language information on their websites about how to open an account, but you can read more on the websites of ABN-AMRO and ING.
It can take some time to register with your municipality and get your BSN number. If this takes longer than two weeks, you might want to open a bank account with Bunq which doesn’t require a BSN number immediately. With Bunq you will have to provide your BSN number within three months. Read more about it on their website.
How to apply for your student card
First upload a picture for your student card. Read more about how to upload your student photo.
When your student card is ready for pick-up, you will receive an email where to collect it. You need to bring valid proof of identity (ID card or passport) when you collect your card.
Please note that the information on the UvA website mentions that you need to pick-up and activate your student card before October 1st, this does not apply to international students.
When to use your student card
You will need your student card to:
Make payments: at vending machines, printers, library information desks and cafeterias.
Only applicable if you have the nationality of one the following countries: Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Japan, Monaco, Vatican City, USA, South Korea.
For your residence permit the IND requires a passport photo, fingerprints and a signature. After you have received an e-mail which says that the IND needs your biometrics, you can make an appointment online through the link you have received in this e-mail.
At the moment it is very busy at the IND desk. It is possible that you won’t be able to make an appointment right now. Please note that you have the rights associated with your residence permit even if you had not had your biometrics taken. Your residence permit rights are in the letter with the decision on your application.
If you are planning to arrive in the Netherlands later because you want to follow online education from home, you do not have to make an appointment right now but you can do this at a later stage. More information can be found here.
At the moment it is not possible to schedule an appointment to collect your residence document. This information will be updated as soon as we receive more information from the IND.
Please note that you have the rights associated with your residence permit, even without your residence document. Your residence permit rights are in the letter with the decision on your application. This letter will be sent to you once the UvA’s immigration office has received it form the IND.
Your residence document will remain at the IND desk until you have an appointment to collect it.
More information can be found here.
All international students are required by law to have appropriate health insurance for the duration of their stay in the Netherlands.
Before coming to the Netherlands
You do not need health insurance for the Netherlands if you are following online education back home.
Read more about health insurance for international students on the UvA website.
If you have questions about your health insurance and whether it offers enough coverage, check out these frequently asked questions from the zorgverzekeringslijn, an organization that specializes in health insurance for international students.
Who should quarantine on arrival in the Netherlands?
The Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs has labelled each country in the world with a so called travel advice. That travel advice indicates whether or not you are advised to self-quarantine after arriving in the Netherlands from that country. Unfortunately the page where you can check the travel advice is only available in Dutch. You can check if you need to self-quarantine by entering the country your traveling from in the ‘Voer hier uw land of gebied’ in section. You need to use the Dutch spelling. Please check this website regularly, the travel advise can change from day to day.
It does not matter whether a country already had an orange travel advisory when you arrived there or this changed during your stay. In both cases you must self-quarantine for 14 days after arriving in the Netherlands. This also applies if you return home immediately if an advisory changes to orange. If a country has an orange travel advisory for reasons other than health, you do not need to self-quarantine.
No, if you have to self-quarantine because you traveled from an orange or red country your roommates do not have to self-quarantine if they travelled from a country with a green or yellow travel advise. Only when you (or they) develop symptoms you should all stay inside and avoid contact with others.
How do I arrange this self-quarantine?
What can I do before I quarantine myself?
When you arrive in the Netherlands you can travel to the city using public transport or a taxi. In both cases you need to wear a (non-medical) face mask. You can pick up the key to your accommodation. If you arranged housing via the UvA you will get information from your housing provider where and when you can pick up your keys. If you have arranged your own housing you need to make an appointment with your landlord.
You can have your groceries delivered by the following supermarkets:
There are also buddies who can help you with your groceries. You can sign up for a buddy on the website of the ASVA Student Union.
Make sure that you have a credit card or cash to pay for living expenses for two weeks. You can also open a Dutch bank account with Bunq online to use iDeal (see step 4 above).
You can do all this after your self quarantine period. See below for instructions on how to make an appointment with the municipality and for more information on the student card.
No, since you are expected to stay at home during your self-quarantine you cannot go outside or visit the UvA campuses.
What should I do if I develop Corona-related symptoms while I am in the Netherlands?
If you develop symptoms that could be related to coronavirus, you can get tested for free to check if you have Covid-19. Please visit this governmental website for more information. Please stay at home and do not visit the campus if you have any symptoms.
If you have severe symptoms or belong to an at-risk group, contact a general practitioner (see below).
In a life-threatening situation, always call 112.
For medical assistance, the usual practice in the Netherlands is for a patient to have an initial consultation with a general practitioner, before making an appointment with a specialist in hospital.
As a student in Amsterdam you can contact the General Practitioners Practice UvA if you need medical assistance. Do not visit the practice, please call first.
What if I don’t have to quarantine?
If you do not have to self-quarantine yourself because you are travelling from a country with a yellow or green travel advise, please follow the steps below to get you settled in.
And you can of course sign up to help students who do need to quarantine by becoming a buddy.
To help you with your arrival in the Netherlands, Student Services is hosting a webinar. During this webinar you will be informed about the following topics:
You will also be able to chat with staff from Student Services during this webinar.
Date and time of the webinar:
During the period preceding your enrolment, you will receive the Start Newsletter with a frequency of two or three weeks. This newsletter contains information about all sorts of practical matters you need for a smooth start of your studies at the University of Amsterdam.