One of the first things you’ll need to do when arriving on Dutch land is to register at the local council where they will provide you with a national identification number for the Netherlands, known as a Dutch BSN. This Dutch Citizen Service Number will be used for many official procedures, including housing, work, studies and taxes.
Whether you’re a long-term or short-term resident in the Netherlands, you should apply for a Dutch Citizen Service Number (Burgerservicenummer – BSN) which is a national individual identification number in the Netherlands. You should also apply for a Dutch BSN if you are a non-resident that has dealings with the Dutch government. Having a Dutch identification number means that you are listed on the national register (Basisregistratie – BRP) and will be able to carry out a range of activities and functions from paying tax to getting a job or a driving licence.
This guide to tax identification numbers in the Netherlands will look at:
- The Dutch Citizen Service Number: what is a BSN?
- Who needs a Dutch Citizen Service Number?
- Applying for a BSN
- Requirements for a Dutch Citizen Service Number
- Using your Dutch Citizen Service Number
There is also a further information section at the end of the guide with links to useful websites and web pages with additional information on tax numbers in the Netherlands.
The Dutch Citizen Service Number (BSN) is your official national identification in the Netherlands. It replaced the old social security number (sofinummer) in 2007. The Dutch BSN was introduced in July 2007 to enhance the efficiency of government administration and improve public service delivery to citizens.
The BSN in the Netherlands is closely linked with the national register (BRP). Registering with the BRP is key to getting your Citizen Service Number in the Netherlands. Once you have registered with the BRP, you will be issued with a Dutch BSN which will be needed for any interactions with the Dutch government or public services, from receiving social security or healthcare to enrolling for study or paying tax. This means that the BSN functions as a social security number, a national identification number and a tax number in the Netherlands.
Whereas the sofinummer was the responsibility of the Dutch tax authority (Belastingdienst), the Dutch BSN is administered by the Ministry of the Interior (BZK) and issued by the local municipalities. It is a unique 8 or 9 digit number which can be found on Dutch passports, national ID cards and driving licences.
You will need a Citizen Service Number in the Netherlands if you are a long-term or short-term resident or if you intend to use any government service from abroad (e.g. receive a social security payment).
If you are coming to live in the Netherlands for long-term (longer than 4 months) then you will need to register with the BRP within 5 days of arriving in the Netherlands. You will then be sent your Dutch BSN.
If you are coming to the Netherlands for a short-stay (less than 4 months) then you should register with the BRP as a non-resident (RNI). You will be sent a Dutch BSN which will enable you to access public services and interact with the Dutch government.
If you live abroad and want to claim a Dutch social security payment (e.g. a pension), or if you would like to make a claim for a partner who is abroad, you can enrol in the BRP from overseas as a non-resident and receive a Dutch BSN.
Companies registered in the Netherlands will be issued with a RSIN which is the Dutch company tax number. The RSIN is issued by the Dutch Chamber of Commerce. Unregistered companies such as sole traders and unlimited partnerships will use individual BSN numbers of owners for tax purposes. See our guide to setting up a business in the Netherlands for more information.
If you are a Dutch citizen, your Dutch citizen service number will be on your Dutch passport or national ID card. See our guide for more information on obtaining Dutch citizenship.
You can apply for a BSN in the Netherlands through the following ways:
- If you are living in the Netherlands for longer than 4 months, you should apply for a Dutch BSN by registering with the BRP at your local municipality. You can find details for all 388 local municipalities in the Netherlands here.
- If you are living in the Netherlands for less than 4 months, you should apply for a Dutch BSN as a non-resident at one of the non-resident offices located in 19 municipalities.
- If you are applying for a Dutch BSN from abroad, you should make your Dutch BSN application through the Dutch Social Insurance Bank (Sociale Verzekeringsbank – SVB).
- If you are making a Dutch BSN application for a partner abroad, you will need to complete a Request for Citizen Service Number for Supplementary Partner (Foreign) form.
The Dutch BSN requirements in terms of documents depend on where you are from. Those from the EU, the European Economic Area (EEA) and Switzerland will need to provide photo ID (e.g. passport) along with proof of Dutch address. Those from outside the EU/EEA/Switzerland will also need to provide a valid Dutch residence permit. Registration on the BRP is provisional for non-EU nationals until a Dutch residence permit has been confirmed.
Registration on the BRP and issuing of the Dutch Citizen Service Number is free of charge.
The Dutch BSN is also used as a student identification number known as the PGN. Schools, colleges and universities use PGN for administration purposes and any overseas student enrolling at a college or university in the Netherlands will need to apply for a Dutch Citizen Service Number. Students studying in the Netherlands but not living in the country will need to apply for a temporary Dutch BSN via the school they are enrolled at.
You will need your Dutch BSN for any dealings with the Dutch government or public services in the Netherlands as well as various other financial and official transactions. The government also used the Dutch Citizen Service Number to combat identity fraud.
Things that will require a BSN in the Netherlands:
- getting a job in the Netherlands
- paying tax in the Netherlands
- studying in the Netherlands
- receiving a Dutch pension or social security payments
- voting in Dutch elections
- accessing public healthcare in the Netherlands
- setting up utilities in the Netherlands
- starting a business in the Netherlands
- moving address or buying a home in the Netherlands
- opening a bank account in the Netherlands
- getting a driving licence in the Netherlands