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 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 some of the steps are mandatory. We also recommend watching the video first. And be sure to check the dates for the special webinars on this subject, at the bottom of this page.
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.
Arranged housing through UvA? Our housing partners will welcome you in your new home, according to strict coronavirus safety measures. They have all taken additional measures such as signage in public spaces, reminding students to maintain social distancing and extra cleaning of public areas.
Collecting your keys
Rental contracts will start on 27 January 2021. From this day on, you can collect your key and move in. Some housing partners will offer a room key pick up service (with assigned time slots to avoid queues) directly at your new address on January 27. Other housing providers hand out the room keys near a location of your new address.
Check the Locations and room types page for details on your own housing provider. On that page, scroll down to "Who will be my housing provider that sends me a housing offer?" to find direct links to the housing providers.
Please note the following:
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 do not apply 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). 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 are going to reside at Rode Kruislaan (De Key) or OurCampus, you will have to register at the municipality of Diemen, a neighbouring town of Amsterdam.
Register at the municipality Amsterdam
To register at the municipality Amsterdam you need to make an appointment. You can make an appointment here. Please make sure your planned residence will be in the city in Amsterdam, and not in a different municipality. Also, note that the city of Amsterdam requires you to go into self-quarantine per recommendations from the Government.
Make sure to bring with you:
Please prepare all these documents carefully ahead of your appointment.
Register at the municipality Diemen
To register at the municipality 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 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.
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.
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 due to Covid-19, if you have to go into (self) quarantine you cannot have an appointment with the bank during your quarantine period.
To prepare, please first download and read both pdf’s, containing the manual and the ‘how to’ document.
You can make an appointment online at ING. To complete the opening of your bank account, you'll need to visit one of their desks. For the necessary verification, you will need:
Please first download and read the ING flyer (pdf) with instructions on how to make 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 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.
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.
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 is available on the IND website.
The IND informs the UvA when your residence permit is ready to collect, and the UvA will let you know.
However, it is likely that this process is delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Chances are that it takes longer than usual for the IND to inform the UvA.
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 the application of your residence permit card.
You will need your V-number, which you can find on the IND confirmation letter that we have sent to you earlier.
Please note: you have the rights associated with your residence permit, even if you haven’t received the permit yet. You can find your rights in the IND decision letter. This letter is sent to you as soon as the UvA’s Immigration office has received it from the IND.
Your residence document will remain at the IND desk for 6 months.
More information can be found on the IND website.
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.
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.
To help you with your arrival in the Netherlands, Student Services is hosting a series of webinars. We'll bring you up to speed with the latest on your municipality registration, student card, residence permit, health insurance, and quarantine during these webinars. You'll also have the opportunity to chat with staff and ask your questions.
The latest webinar was on 20 January.
Who should quarantine on arrival in the Netherlands?
Travellers arriving in the Netherlands from certain countries and regions are strongly advised to self-quarantine for 10 days from the day of arrival. 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. In both cases, you need to wear a (non-medical) face mask and 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. In case 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. 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.
Introduction week online
You can follow the online programme of the introduction week. Most faculties organise additional activities during the introduction week. You will receive further information about this directly from your study 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 once you've finished 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?
In case you develop symptoms that could be 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 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 if you 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.
during the September and the February enrolment period
Every few weeks during the enrolment period, you receive our Start Newsletter full of practical information as well as nice-to-know items to keep you updated for a smooth start of your time at the University of Amsterdam. Previous editions (pdf) can be downloaded below.
We wish you the best of luck with your preparations and we look forward to welcome you in Amsterdam.