Opening a bank account in the Netherlands

Dutch bank account: Opening a Dutch bank account as an expat

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Expatica's guide explains who can open a Dutch bank account and what you need to present when opening a bank account in the Netherlands.

The Netherlands is home to some of the world’s banking giants. Before you open a Dutch bank account, you should have no problem obtaining cash from an overseas account using an ATM or geldautomaat. They dispense money (in several languages) and accept a wide range of debit and credit cards.

The amount you can withdraw and any extra service charges will depend on what kind of account you have and where it is. There should be no charge if you are using a card from one of the 18 Eurozone countries (Britain is not one of them). If you want to exchange cash, services can be found at the Post Office (postkantoor) or a GWK exchange office. If you shop around, you may find good rates in banks and exchange bureaus but check if they have higher commissions.

All major credit cards are accepted but not everywhere. Hotels, restaurants, large department stores and tourist attractions present no problem, but you can’t use a credit card in some supermarkets. Cash is still widely used, but the most common method of payment is pinnen, using a debit card with a PIN code. In some cases, a magnetic swipe card might not work, for example, some train ticket booths only accept chip-and-pin cards or cash.

The Netherlands has had the euro since 2002 and paper denominations are EUR 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 200 and 500, though you may encounter problems using anything bigger than a EUR 50 note. The coins, with an image of Queen Beatrix on the back, come in denominations of EUR 1, EUR 2, and 5, 10, 20 and 50 eurocents. Coins for 1 and 2 eurocents have been discontinued but prices will be quoted exactly – for instance, as EUR 7.21 – but will be rounded up to the nearest 5 eurocents for giving change. On bank statements, the exact figure will appear.

Opening a Dutch bank account

The main Dutch banks are:

ABN-AMRO, which was nationalised, has the most information in English online and a special expat package but you should generally have no problem conducting business in English at any of them. SNS Reaal was also nationalised in early 2013. You will also find financial providers aimed specifically at expat clients, with extensive English-language services.

Documents generally required:

  • Valid ID, plus residence permit if applicable;
  • BSN burgerservicenummer, which you’ll get when you register with the BRP or direct from the tax office;
  • Proof of address (bevolkingsregister extract, utility bill, rental contract etc.).

If you want to open anything other than a savings only account you may also need evidence of income, such as an employment contract or payslip.

The credit rating of new clients may be checked with the Central Credit Registration Office (BKR). An account can be opened in your name and your partner’s (they will also need identity documents).

A private bank account is a privérekening. Various cards are on offer but the bankpas is standard. You can pick up the card personally with ID. A four-digit PIN code (pincode) will either be posted separately or given to you on pick up, but it can be changed at a bank. When you pay by pin, you swipe your card through the machine and punch in your four-digit number. It’s the most common method of payment used in shops, supermarkets, bars and restaurants.

Since December, any debt higher than EUR 250 has been added to the Dutch credit registration agency's (BKR) list of debts. This includes any debts held longer than one month, including shop and credit cards and bank overdrafts. Banks also check the BKR register when determining if clients can realistically manage payments, such as a Dutch mortgage.

Quick payment methods

Chipknip was once intended as an easy way of paying small transactions since, unlike with pinnen payments, you dind’t need a PIN. However, the e-purse system was phased out in 2015, as pinpas is increasingly being accepted for small transactions.

However, it was in announced in 2017 that a mobile banking initiative was being set up by a collaboration between the main Dutch banks, known as the Payconiq system. The system is being slowly being implemented and will allow payment by scanning a QR code with a mobile phone, which directly debits the amount from your bank account.

Credit cards

Commercial banks usually have an arrangement with Mastercard or VISA but you will generally need to be a customer for a while before getting one. A credit card will be more expensive than other bank cards and you will be encouraged to pay off the card swiftly and consistently.

Transfering money abroad

International bank transfers may result in a fee from both the issuing and receiving bank. As this is a fixed rate, it is typically cheaper than a money union for large sums and more expensive than online payment systems, such as PayPal and Transferwise, for small amounts. In addition, some banks may not be willing to send funds to certain countries, such as Somalia. Currency exchange brokers are increasingly offering cheaper options for money transfers and currency exchange. You can find out more about how to transfer money internationally here.

Internet banking

Online banking is common in the Netherlands. You will usually be issued with a calculator-sized device into which you slot your bankpas and enter your PIN, then exchange numbers with the online login system to gain authorised access to your account. You can pay bills directly or set up direct debits (automatische overschrijving) for regular payments. There is usually information in English but you can also get step-by-step tuition from the bank.

IBAN Acceptgiro

A common method for paying bills, this is a yellow payment slip attached to the bottom of an invoice into which you enter your bank details and sign. You can pay online into the account on the slip or ‘post’ it at the bank, where there’s a box for them. These are only acceptable with IBANs (International Bank Account Numbers).

Offshore banking

The term ’offshore banking‘ originates from the Channel Islands (Jersey, Guernsey etc.) but is generally used today to refer to any tax haven (such as the Netherlands Antilles). Essentially it is any account held in a bank located outside your country of residence, usually in a low tax jurisdiction, and offers certain financial benefits for those who wish to reduce their tax liability.

Accounts can be held in a variety of currencies and there’s a diverse range of savings and investment products. Previously renowned for a high degree of confidentiality, offshore banking is changing with the US Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA), which requires foreign banks to share account information of US citizens with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).

For expats based in the Netherlands, the tax situation can be complex. Dutch residents pay tax on their worldwide income and there are wealth, inheritance and gift taxes. Non-residents, however, generally pay tax on Dutch-sourced income, but if you are a US citizen or green card holder and have the 30 percent ruling, you can be considered as a non-resident or partial non-resident taxpayer. In such a case only offshore banking might offer extra advantages.

Pensions, investments and savings can all be arranged through a licenced independent financial adviser (IFA) or a bank. Interest rates for savings can be fixed or variable; some banks’ websites provide tools to predict investment returns. The type of fund and level of appropriate risk will obviously depend on individual circumstances, and it is advisable to consult an adviser to ascertain your ‘Risk Profile’. In the current economic climate, there are additional risks to depositing money offshore: recent bank mergers, differing protection schemes and deposits held in a different country to the bank’s service centre can mean investors are unclear about how safe their deposits are.

Before settling on a bank, expats would be wise to ask themselves the following basic questions: Which bank is my money in, who owns it, what is its credit worthiness, and which jurisdiction does it fall under? Read more about offshore banking.



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Updated 2016.


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13 Comments To This Article

  • Sophie posted:

    on 4th February 2017, 16:30:31 - Reply

    Hi Terry - I am having the exact same problem (non EU citizen with ZZP visa of 2 years) - did you manage to find a bank which let you open an account? Sophie
  • eric posted:

    on 28th January 2017, 10:15:30 - Reply

    I rocked up to ING with my passport in June 2016. 30 minutes later I had a bank account.

    I dont see what the hassle is about.

    Tax is a different issue. If you think NL tax authorities are bad know that ALL countries will tax you as much as possible.
  • Julie posted:

    on 28th November 2016, 11:56:18 - Reply

    did you read the article at all?
  • Kalhid posted:

    on 15th November 2016, 01:44:32 - Reply

    Hi, I'm going to study abroad next year in Rotterdam, I'm form Mexico and i want to open a bank account. What documents do I need and what bank is recommended? Thanks.

    [Moderator's note: You can also post questions on our Ask the Expert free service.]

  • Bernard posted:

    on 26th October 2016, 12:42:27 - Reply

    Hi Terry,
    I hope by now you have found out that indeed you can open an account. There is a lot of misunderstanding, even within banks. Generally you can open a payment and savings account, but no investment account. If you want to invest, we can help you out.

  • Terry posted:

    on 24th August 2016, 14:43:45 - Reply

    I am a US resident with a residency permit to live in the Netherlands. I am now 49% owner of a Dutch BV. When trying to open a bank account with ABM-AMRO last week, I was told that this is no longer possible. How is it that you are allowed to work, own a business, and expected to pay taxes, however you can not have a bank account as a non-european resident. If anyone has any suggestions, I would greatly appreciate it. This is evidently a very new issue.
  • Indy500SpeedingTicket posted:

    on 12th April 2016, 20:57:11 - Reply

    "They will tax you a nice 30% inheritance tax if you happen to die - yes, even outside their country."

    Per an official EU website:

    For both gifts and inheritances, a large number of deductions apply. The deduction for surviving spouses is 523 667 EUR.The same amount is available to the surviving partner of an unmarried couple who have been living together for at least five years and the exemption amount is reduced proportionally if the couple has been living together for less than five years.

    Although this exemption is much less than the 5 million dollars offered by the US IRS it doesn't make much difference because it is essentially just saying that you are exempt unless you are highly affluent...I didn't verify anything else you said because I would like to see what your response is for what I am pointing out here.

  • Stina posted:

    on 17th June 2015, 21:44:47 - Reply

    That is not true. You can open a bank account at Triodos even without having another Dutch bank account before (at least as an EU citizen). But compared to other countries, this process is extremely nerve-wracking in the Netherlands. It took me five weeks to get my bank card by Triodos. It is possible, but don't come without savings to make it through this horrible long period without access to anything. They will for sure ask for 10 more documents before sending out the four different letters it takes to have the whole bank package completed.
  • Alex posted:

    on 13th June 2014, 12:54:16 - Reply

    If I don't have a job nor am I an international student, can I open an account? I need it for toeslag en belastingteruggaven.They take money from my father's account but for some reason, they can't refund them there, so I need my own bank account. Rabobank is out of the question, I tried already.
  • TwoOneStu posted:

    on 1st May 2014, 03:48:56 - Reply

    @Rich Obviously you haven't heard of the 30% rule [Edited by moderator]
  • Rich posted:

    on 16th January 2014, 20:07:47 - Reply

    PLease do try to open a DUTCH bank account in USA's Rabobank branch.
    Just, don't be surprised if you get a wealth tax bill, annually, from the very nice Dutch Tax office. They tax globally, wherever you go, even 10y after you leave the Dutch country again: 1.2% year on year. They will tax you a nice 30% inheritance tax if you happen to die - yes, even outside their country.
    A Dutchman would do anything to be able to enjoy your low income tax in USA. The Dutch tax labour income at 52%, and if God forbid you land a supervisor job, you will be paying another 16% 'crisis tax'. So you are left with a meager 25% in your pocket to spend. I wonder what convinced you to pick the highest tax country -of all places- to work. Even welfare is not accessible for home owners (regardless if they paid off the house), so anyone owning a place is not going to see a cent back from those paid taxes. Honestly, you must be out of your mind to relocate.

  • Dan posted:

    on 2nd October 2012, 16:55:28 - Reply

    Triodos and ASN Bank are both nice banks unfortunately migrants can't get accounts there because to open an account you need provide a Dutch bank account during the sign up process. So either way you need to open one of the 'big banks' accounts first... "een beetje dom"
  • osita posted:

    on 25th June 2012, 20:19:41 - Reply

    As far as I know, you always need a sofinummer/BSN to open an account. The usual way to get it is when you register with the gemeente (legal requirement), but this requires proof of residency (eg. rental contract from your landlord). It is possible to get a temporary BSN while you sort things out. Call your provicial tax office (for Amsterdam/Noord Holland, it is Sloterdijk) and make an appointment.