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. Unfortunately, because of measures to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, we can’t greet you in person as we usually would, but we’re hoping this guide gets you off to a good start.
When you do not need to self-quarantine, or once your quarantine has finished, you can follow the steps in the step-by-step guide below. Please note that some of the steps are mandatory. We also recommend watching the video first. Also, be sure to check the dates for the informative webinars on this subject at the bottom of this page.
Amsterdam has an extensive transport system, including trams, buses, trains, metros and ferries. The GVB operates most public transport in Amsterdam.
The GVB in Amsterdam and the Dutch Railways (NS) are not the same operators. You can buy 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 to which you add money. You can buy one at the ticket office of most major train stations or the yellow ticket machines. The ticket machines accept payment by debit and credit cards (V-Pay, Maestro, Mastercard, Visa and American Express) using a PIN 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 website 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 are required to use your mask on the train, bus, tram and metro. Also, please remember that 1,5-metre is a safe distance to keep from your fellow passengers.
Have you arranged housing through UvA? Our housing partners will welcome you to your new home in accordance with the current coronavirus safety measures. In addition, they have all taken additional steps for your safety, such as signage in public spaces, reminding students to maintain social distancing and extra cleaning of public areas.
Collecting your keys
You'll need to collect your key from your housing provider to move in. Some housing partners will offer a room key pick-up service, while other providers hand out the room keys near the location of your new address. If any updates are available, you'll find them here.
Check the Locations and room types page for details on your housing provider.
Please note the following:
As an international student, you must register as a resident if you plan to stay in the Netherlands longer than four months. In addition, you must register in the town where you will live.
Please note that the criteria that you must register within 5 days do not apply to students at the moment. Unfortunately, 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'll be given a citizen service number (burgerservicenummer, BSN). A BSN is required for many things in the Netherlands, including opening a bank account, visiting a doctor or getting hospital treatment.
Rode Kruislaan (De Key) or OurCampus
If you reside at Rode Kruislaan (De Key) or OurCampus, you'll have to register at the municipality of Diemen, a neighbouring town of Amsterdam.
Register at the municipality of Amsterdam
Contact the municipality of Amsterdam for an appointment by calling:
Make sure to bring with you:
Please prepare all these documents carefully ahead of your appointment.
Register at the municipality of Diemen
To register at the municipality of Diemen, you need to make an appointment. You can do this by calling the following number:
What to bring:
Please make sure you print out and fill in the required forms before going to the city hall.
Address municipality of Diemen:
D.J. Den Hartoglaan 1
1111 ZB Diemen
You'll receive your BSN by post at your address in the Netherlands within 2 to 3 weeks.
Register in other municipalities
Check 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 helpful to open a Dutch bank account. International money transfers are usually costly and take days to process. Also, credit cards are not widely accepted. The debit card you receive when opening a Dutch bank account is easy and free of charge to pay at supermarkets, cafes, and restaurants.
Choose a bank
You can open a student bank account at several banks in the Netherlands.
You can make an appointment online at ABN AMRO. To complete the opening of your bank account, you'll need to visit one of their desks. For the necessary verification, you will need:
You will receive your banking card, pin code and activation code within 5 working days. Please note: that you can only open a bank account with ABN AMRO if you live in the Netherlands for at least 6 months. Also, due to ongoing Covid-19 measurements, if you have to go into (self) quarantine, you cannot have an appointment with the bank during your quarantine period.
You can make an appointment online at one of the ING service points. To complete the opening of your bank account, you'll need to visit one of their desks. For the necessary verification, you'll need:
Please first download and read the ING flyer (pdf) with instructions on making an appointment.
At Bunq, you can make an appointment online. As with the other banks, you'll need to provide your BSN number. But Bunq allows you 3 months to do so. For the necessary verification to complete the opening of your bank account, you'll also need:
How to apply for your student card
First, upload a picture of 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 go to the Student ID card page for more information about how and when to use your student card.
Only applicable if you have the nationality of one of the following countries: Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Japan, Monaco, United Kingdom, Vatican City, USA, South Korea.
For your residence permit, the IND requires a passport photo, fingerprints and a signature. You can make an appointment after you have received an e-mail that says that the IND needs your biometrics.
Leading up to the start of each semester and due to COVID-19, the IND desks can be busier than usual. In some cases, you have to plan more than 4 weeks ahead. Please note that this does not affect your legal residence in the Netherlands.
As a general rule, the residence permit should be ready to be picked up about three weeks after submitting your biometrics to the IND. Please schedule an appointment to collect your residence permit here. The immigration office will also inform you of this process by email.
If you want to track the progress of your application and the availability of your residence permit yourself, you can open a MyIND account.
1. To open such an account, you need a DigID (which gives you online access to governmental websites)
2. To obtain a DigID, you need a BSN (citizen service number, check Step 3)
Another option is to make an appointment with the IND in advance. You can do this online. The IND further informs you whether an appointment is possible or whether they still need to process your residence permit card application.
You will need your V-number, which you can find on the IND confirmation letter we sent to you earlier.
Your residence document will remain at the IND desk for 6 months.
You can find more information on the IND website.
Dutch law requires all international students to have appropriate health insurance for their entire 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.
You'll find more information on the page about health insurance for international students.
If you have questions about your health insurance and whether it offers enough coverage, check out these frequently asked questions from the zorgverzekeringslijn, an organisation specialising in health insurance for international students.
To help you with your arrival in the Netherlands, Student Services hosts a webinar each year. We'll bring you up to speed with the latest on your municipality registration, student card, residence permit, and health insurance. You'll also have the opportunity to chat with staff and ask your questions.
As soon as the new date is available, you'll find it here on this page.
Who should quarantine on arrival in the Netherlands?
You need to check whether you are required to self-quarantine yourself. You can find the information on this website. The University of Amsterdam expects students to act responsibly and to self-isolate per the recommendations from the Government of the Netherlands.
In case you're obliged to self-quarantine, please take careful note of the guidelines here and the ones below:
Arrival at Schiphol Airport
Once you've arrived at Schiphol or another airport, you may or may not be invited to get tested at the airport. However, you still need to self-quarantine. Please follow the guidance provided at the airport.
Public transport to the city
When you arrive in the Netherlands, you can travel to the city of Amsterdam using public transport or a taxi. Please ensure to check and follow any current COVID regulations when using public transport or taxis. Also, be sure to keep 1.5 metres distance from other people.
Pick-up your key
You're allowed - and need - to pick up the key to your accommodation. If you've arranged housing via the UvA, you'll get information from your housing provider about where and when you can pick up your keys. If you've made your own housing arrangements, you'll need to make an appointment with your property owner.
Can I come to campus?
No, since you are expected to stay at home during your self-quarantine, you cannot go outside or visit the UvA campuses.
How to get groceries
You can have your groceries delivered by the following supermarkets:
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 in the step-by-step guide below).
Buddy Programme for support and practical matters
We can imagine that having to self-quarantine in a country where you have just arrived can be challenging. Therefore, the ASVA Student Union has set up a buddy system to connect with other students from your programme while self-quarantining. These buddies can also assist you with practical matters such as groceries. More information: ASVA Buddy Programme.
What needs to wait until after your quarantine period
Some arrangements will have to wait until after your quarantine period. For example, picking up your student card (when ready) and making your biometrics appointment. During your quarantine, you can go ahead and make an appointment for your registration with the municipality of Amsterdam for when you finish quarantine. If you live in a different town, please check with their office.
Registering with the municipality
This is where you’ll find information on registering with the municipality.
Collecting your student card
And here you can find information about collecting your student card.
General Health Rules
Following are the official guidelines that apply in the Netherlands to stop the spread of Covid-19:
What do I do when I develop possible Covid-19 symptoms?
If you develop symptoms related to coronavirus, you need to get a free test to check whether you have the virus. Call 0800-1202 (or +31 850 659 063 if you're calling with a foreign phone number) to apply and make an appointment. You can also go here for more information.
Medical assistance for students at UvA
For medical assistance, the usual practice in the Netherlands is to have an initial consultation with a general practitioner. This practitioner can then refer you to a specialist in a hospital. As a student in Amsterdam, you can also contact the General Practitioners Practice UvA. We kindly ask you not to visit the practice but to make a call instead.
When in acute need of medical assistance
If you have severe symptoms or belong to an at-risk group, please contact a general practitioner. In case of a life-threatening situation, always call 112.
Information on Corona by the Dutch government
For coronavirus-related questions, you can call the government’s corona information line on 0800-1351 (from the Netherlands). From abroad you can call 00312 0205 1351. Or, go here for more information on the Coronavirus test.
National Institute for Public Health (RIVM)
RIVM is the National Institute for Public Health and the Environment in the Netherlands.
UvA’s General Practitioner Office
If you need medical assistance, you can contact the UvA’s General Practitioners Practice by phone (+31 20 525 2878). Or, visit this page for more information.
Check the government websites regularly for up-to-date information.
Travellers arriving in the Netherlands from certain countries and regions may be required to self-quarantine once they have arrived in Amsterdam. You need to check whether you are required to self-quarantine yourself. You can find the information on this website. The University of Amsterdam expects students to act responsibly and to self-isolate per the recommendations from the Government of the Netherlands.
If you have a BSN number (which you receive after registering with the municipality), you’ll get an invitation from the government, either by letter or email. It will say what you have to take with you (such as your ID). It will also tell you where you can get the vaccination.
during the September and the February enrolment period
Every few weeks during the enrolment period, you receive our Start Newsletter full of practical information and nice-to-know items to keep you updated for a smooth start to your time at the University of Amsterdam. You can download previous editions (pdf) below.
We wish you the best of luck with your preparations, and we look forward to welcoming you to Amsterdam.