One of the first things you’ll need to do when arriving in the Netherlands is to register at the local council where they will provide you with a national identification number for the Netherlands, known as a Burgerservicenummer. This Dutch Citizen Service Number will be used for many official procedures, including housing, work, studies, and taxes.
All residents in the Netherlands should get a Dutch Citizen Service Number (Burgerservicenummer – BSN). This is the 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 on the national register (Basisregistratie – BRP). It also means you can carry out a range of activities such as paying tax, getting a job, or getting a driving license.
This guide to tax identification numbers in the Netherlands looks 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 Burgerservicenummer or 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 tied to the national register (BRP). Registering with the BRP is key to getting your Citizen Service Number in the Netherlands. After registering with the BRP, you’ll receive a Dutch BSN, which is necessary 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 Burgerservicenummer 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 licenses.
You need a Citizen Service Number in the Netherlands if you live in the country or you intend to use government services from abroad.
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 receive 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 receive a Dutch BSN, which enables 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 Dutch Chamber of Commerce issues the RSIN. 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’re Dutch, your BSN is 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 live in the Netherlands for longer than 4 months, apply for a Dutch BSN by registering with the BRP at your municipality. You can find details for all 388 local municipalities in the Netherlands here.
- Living in the Netherlands for less than 4 months? 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, must provide a photo ID along with proof of your 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 your Dutch residence permit is 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. Any overseas student enrolling at a college or university in the Netherlands needs a Dutch Citizen Service Number. Students studying in the Netherlands but not living in the country must apply for a temporary Dutch BSN via their school.
You need your Dutch BSN for any dealings with the Dutch government or public services in the Netherlands. It’s also used with 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 license in the Netherlands