What to do when you arrive

There are many things you need to arrange before or after you arrive in the Netherlands. Arranging for healthcare is just one of them, but obviously most important, especially if you are bringing small children or have a medical condition yourself.

To arrange access to the Dutch healthcare you need to take the following steps:

  1. Register at the local municipality if you intend to stay for more than 4 months. They will issue you and your family members a BSN (Citizen Service Number, in Dutch ‘Burger Service Nummer’ -BSN). Sometimes you will need a residence permit first to obtain a BSN.  If there is an expat center in your region, they will help you in this process.
    Note: If you intend to stay for less than 4 months for instance to study or to work, you’ll need to register at one of 19 registration centers or an expat center to get your BSN.
  2. Arrange health insurance for you and your family members. In most cases you are obliged to take out Dutch health insurance, although there are exceptions. For this you will need a BSN and in most cases a Dutch address and bank account.
  3. Register with a GP in your area. The GP (huisarts) is the key to Dutch healthcare. For most of your medical needs he/she will be your first point of contact.. To register with a GP you will need a valid health insurance and BSN.
  4. Acquaint yourself with the Dutch healthcare system. It ranks among the best in the world, but some things, however, may be arranged in a way that is different than you are used to.

Even if you have not yet been able to complete the abovementioned steps, Dutch healthcare will, of course, be available to you and your family in case of life-threatening emergencies.

While you are at it, you may also apply for DigiD, a digital identification tool, that you will need to access the online services of health insurance providers and many healthcare providers.

National programs

Once you are registered in your community as a resident and are over a certain age, you will be invited, at some point in time, for nationwide preventive health screenings. If you have questions about your health, you can discuss this with your GP.

If you have children below the age of 18, they will be invited to participate in youth health care programs.

You may need to undergo a screening for TBC (Tuberculosis) to get a residence permit. You will get more information about this when you will register with the municipality. Many nationalities are exempted from this obligation.

Note that  unless it is an emergency, you cannot go to the hospital or a specialist without a referral from a GP.