The Citizen Service Number (BSN Number) in the Netherlands

On June 20, 2016 by Dutch Umbrella Company

If you want to work in the Netherlands as an expat there are a few important things to consider. To begin with, you should apply for a Citizen Service Number (Burgerservicenummer, or BSN number). This is a social-fiscal number issued to all Dutch tax residents, and it makes it easier for public authorities to exchange information without making errors.

The BSN is a unique registration number for everyone who lives in the Netherlands. It is required for any interaction with the Dutch authorities: starting a job, opening a bank account, applying for a Dutch driving licence, deducting your taxes and social security contributions, taking out health insurance, applying for benefits and announcing a change of address. The Dutch Authorities use it also to combat identity fraud and misspelled names. With the citizen service number, the Dutch government wants to improve the services it provides to you, combat fraud and improve the protection of your privacy.

Applying for a BSN number

You can obtain a BSN by registering with a municipality – you’ll find more on that topic in this article. Registering with the personal records database is obligated whenever you move to the Netherlands, either temporarily or permanently. The municipality where you must register depends on your situation and how long you will stay in the Netherlands.

➢ If you stay here for 4 months or longer, you must register as a resident at your municipality. You must do so within 5 days after your arrival in the Netherlands.

➢ If you stay in the Netherlands for less than 4 months, you are a ‘non-resident’. This simply means you will have dealings with the Dutch government, but you do not reside in the Netherlands permanently. You must register as a non-resident with a municipality that has a special registration facility. These are Alkmaar, Almelo, Amsterdam, Breda, Den Haag, Doetinchem, Eindhoven, Goes, Groningen/Eemshaven, Heerlen, Leeuwarden, Leiden, Nijmegen, Rotterdam, Terneuzen, Utrecht, Venlo and Zwolle.

What if you don’t have a BSN number?

If you want to rent a room or apartment it’s important to check if you actually can register at that address, since some owners may not allow registration at their property in order to avoid paying the increased taxes. We strongly advise you not to rent a place where you are unable to register, since it can cause quite some trouble.

Remaining unregistered or registering at the wrong address is not permitted. Most municipalities can impose fines of up to 325 euros for people who fail to register at the correct address, to notify the municipality of their change of address on time or to present all relevant documents. You have to provide your employer with a BSN as well, so they can check and verify your identity. Please note that if you don’t have a BSN, an anonymous tax tariff of 52% will be applicable.

Do you have any questions about the BSN or the application process, or would you like to have more information? Feel free to contact us on +31 (0)20 820 1560 or at