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Upon arrival in Amsterdam

Information for international students

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.

  • Step 1: Transport when you arrive in Amsterdam

    Amsterdam has an extensive transport system, including trams, buses, trains, metros and ferries. Most public transport in Amsterdam is operated by the GVB.

    OV chipcards
    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 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.

  • Step 2: Collect the key to your room or apartment

    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:

    Please note:

    • Rental contracts start on 14 August 2020.
    • You must collect your key in person. This cannot be done by someone else.
    • Please inform your housing provider of the date and time of your arrival.
    • Have your travel plans changed or is there a delay? Please inform your housing provider.

    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.

  • Step 3: Register with the municipality

    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:

    • Your valid passport, plus a copy of this passport with the pages that have your personal details and photo.
      If you have more than one nationality and more than one passport, you are required to bring all your passports.
    • A printed copy of your rental contract.
      If you’re staying with a friend or relative you may not have a rental contract please fill in the 'Permission to register at an address' form and have it signed by the primary resident.
    • Your student card or proof of registration at a university.

    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.:

    • 17, 20, 24, 27, 31 August
    • 3, 7, 10, 14, 17 September

    What to bring:

    • Your valid passport
    • The IND “kennisgevingsletter” (decision letter) that has been sent to you by the immigration office
    • Your rental contract printed out
    • Registration form (already filled in)

    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:

    • In the Netherlands: 020 314 4888
    • Outside the Netherlands: +31 20 314 4888

    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.

  • Step 4: Open a Dutch bank account

    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:

    • A valid passport or ID card (for non-EU students: a passport is sufficient)
    • A proof of enrolment of the UvA
    • A Dutch address where you will live during your stay
    • A BSN number (the social security number assigned by the Dutch government when you register with your municipality).

    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.

  • Step 5: Collect your student card

    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:

    • Confirm your identity when attending classes, writing exams or visiting  study centres at UvA locations
    • Borrow books from the university library
    • Get student discounts offered by the University Sports Centre (USC), the student cultural organisation CREA, etc.

    Make payments: at vending machines, printers, library information desks and cafeterias.

  • Step 6. Make an appointment to have your biometrics taken

    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.

  • Step 7: Collect your residence permit

    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.

  • Step 8: Arrange your health insurance

    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

    • Check whether your current insurance will cover the complete period of your stay abroad, and what type of coverage it consists of.
    • Make sure you have health insurance coverage from the moment you arrive in the Netherlands.

    You do not need health insurance for the Netherlands if you are following online education back home.

    More information

    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.

Important information about self-quarantine

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.

  • Should my roommates also 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.

  • How do I get groceries?

You can have your groceries delivered by the following supermarkets:

  • Jumbo: (translate via Chrome). Payment via debit card/iDeal/credit card
  • Albert Heijn: (translate via Chrome). Payment via debit card/iDeal

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).

  • When do I register at city hall, collect my student card and make my biometrics appointment?

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.

  • Can I come to the campus during my quarantine?

No, since you are expected to stay at home during your self-quarantine you cannot go outside or visit the UvA campuses.

Medical matters

  • 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.

  • What if I need medical assistance?

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:

  • How to register with the municipality
  • Where to pick up your student card
  • How to collect your residence permit
  • Quarantine
  • Health insurance
  • How to open a Bank account

You will also be able to chat with staff from Student Services during this webinar.

Date and time of the webinar:

Start Newsletter

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.