Where do I get food?
What to arrange in the first week? After your arrival in the Netherlands, make sure you get enough fuel to start the bureaucratic battle of the coming days. The most common supermarkets in the Netherlands are: Albert Heijn, Plus, Jumbo, Dirk, Spar, Coop, Lidl and Aldi. Please note that it is not possible to pay by credit card by some supermarkets. Therefore make sure you`ll bring your Maestro Card or enough cash with you if you don`t have a Dutch bank account yet.
If you`d rather grab a bite to eat, look for an eetcafe. As Dutch people love their bread for lunch, in an eetcafe you find a nice selection of sandwiches (broodjes) and salads. The places called “restaurant” are mainly for a fancy dinner with friends. Or you can order your food online at for example: Thuisbezorgd.nl or Deliveroo.
Open a Dutch bank account!
What to arrange in the first week? If you live in the Netherlands, you will find out credit cards are rarely used and not always will be accepted. Paying with a maestro card as well as cashless payment is very popular. For a lot of administration things (like getting a personalized public transport card) you`ll need a bank account. So you might want to think about opening a Dutch bank account.
To open a bank account in the Netherlands, you`ll need:
- residential address
- passport and
- BSN number
The most popular banks in the Netherlands are ABN Amro, ING and Rabobank.
Practical apps to find your way!
If you live in the Netherlands, the following websites (also available as apps) will help you get around.
- 9292.nl lets you plan your travels within the Netherlands. Whether this is from or to an address or a public transport station. It shows you which public transport (incl. ferries and boats) are necessary to get from A to B successfully.
- ns.nl is the official website of the Dutch railway. It might be a good idea to quickly check your journey before you take the train. The Dutch railway system is pretty busy, and it happens quite frequently that trains are not running due to disruptions.
- buienradar.nl shows you the rain forecast for the upcoming hours. This app is indispensable if you live in the Netherlands! One moment you are sitting on the bike and the rain is pouring down. Five minutes later, the sun is shining again. Unfortunately, the app is only available in the Dutch app store.
- Tikkie.me doesn’t exactly help with finding your way in the Netherlands, but can be considered as pretty important while living in the Netherlands. Tikkie is wildly used and allows you to easily ask your money back via WhatsApp or messages. As Duchies usually share bills it is quite common that someone pays the bill at a pub or restaurant and afterwards sends a Tikkie to all participants to get the money back.
Problems finding the apps in your app store? If you own an iPhone, it could be that you need to change the app store.
First Monday of the month.
Good to know: every first Monday of the month, exactly at 12 o’ clock, the sirens go off in the Netherlands. This is a test and no reason to panic.
Register at the BRP and get a BSN!
What to arrange in the first week? If you live in the Netherlands for four months or longer you need to register at the BRP (Basisregistratie Personen). The BRP is a database which contains personal data of all residents of the Netherlands. When you register yourself at the BRP, you’ll receive your Citizen Service Number (burgerservicenummer = BSN) within four weeks after registration (normally!). With the BSN, you can be identified by governmental and non-governmental organisations, which is why you’ll basically need it for all steps ahead (opening a bank account, getting health insurance etc.).
To register at the BRP, you need to make an appointment at your municipality, which in most municipalities you are supposed to do within five days after arriving in the Netherlands.
Get a public transport card!
With the OV Chipkaart, you can travel on all public transport in the Netherlands. You top it up with money, check-in at the station of your departure and out at your final destination, and off you go. The OV Chipkaart works on trains, busses and even ferries. There are two types of OV Chipkaarts: the anonymous and the personalised one. Purchase the anonymous card at one of the different service points like sales devices at a stations and newsagents and supermarkets or apply for the personalised one online. If you just moved to the Netherlands (especially if you don`t have a bank account yet), the anonymous one will do the trick. However, the personalised OV Chipkaart allows you to book abonnements, etc. on it and might be worth considering it if you live in the Netherlands for a more extended period.
Tip: Since you’ve just moved to the Netherlands, you’d probably like to explore Holland, and therefore the daaluurenabonnement might be recommendable. It costs €50 a year and allows you to travel off-peak (including weekends) with a discount of 40%. Please note that you need a bank account to get a personalised OV Chipkaart.
Where to get to your everyday commodities?
What to arrange in the first week? If you live in the Netherlands, in addition to food, you will likely need a few commodities. Here are some common retailers in the Netherlands:
- Etos and Kruidvat sell care products and toiletries but also medicine without subscriptions. E.g. for light painkillers or flu medicine in the Netherlands you don’t have to go to the pharmacy but can buy these at Etos or Kruidvat.
- Hema is a warehouse which sells a lot of basics for your house for a reasonable price. At Hema, you’ll find everything from bedding to kitchen gear and cutlery to (basic) clothing.
- At Gamma, Praxis, Karwei, Hornbach or Bauhaus you’ll find everything you need for DYO projects like screws and bolts, paints, tools etc.
- If you are looking for sports clothing or gear, you might find it at Decathlon.
- Bol.com is one of the biggest online marketplaces in the Netherlands. You’ll find everything from books to clothing to gadgets.
Medical assistance and emergencies!
What to arrange in the first week? We hope your stay in the Netherlands will be emergency free. However, should you need any medical assistance or emergency services while living in the Netherlands you might want to have the most important numbers at hand.
- For the police, an ambulance or the fire brigade call 112 (emergency number).
- If you need to reach the police in a non-emergency matter, call 0900-8844.
If you need to see a doctor at the weekend when your GP is closed, you can go to huisartsenpost (not the emergency room!). Just google huisartsenpost, and you will find one close to you.
Here are some useful Dutch words to know:
- Doctor = Dokter
- General Practitioner (GP) = Huisarts
- Hospital = Ziekenhuis
- Emergency Room = Eerste Hulp
- Pharmacy = Apotheek
- Dentist = Tandarts