When you arrive

When you arrive

Your first days and weeks in Amsterdam will be filled with new experiences, new people and a few practical considerations too. We have compiled the following information to help you:

Arrival Days in August 2016
The international office of Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam has received quite a few questions about when the introduction activities will take place. Our introduction team is working hard to put together an engaging, informative and fun programme. As soon as a final overview of all activities is ready, we will make sure to publish it on our website. For now, please mark the following days in your agenda!

The arrival days are part of the Introduction week. Students are expected to arrive either on Friday 19 or Monday 22 August. 23 August is also an option but then you'll miss out on some services.

An overview of what happens on each during the arrival period.        

As you can see on the graph, depending on which day you arrive in Amsterdam, you can follow the arrow and choose the best option in order to:
1) Collect your keys (if you arranged your accommodation via VU Amsterdam)
2) Register at the municipality
3) Arrange all practical matters regarding your registration at VU Amsterdam

Social Events
Before the start of the academic year, students are invited to join the social events to kick off the start of a new academic year at VU Amsterdam and to meet with fellow students!

VU Amsterdam offers an introduction programme for international students at the beginning of each semester. In August all new foreign students will be given a warm welcome to the student life at our university and in Amsterdam. All kinds of activities are organized, such as social, cultural and sport events. You will meet fellow international students and the board of ESN VU Amsterdam.

If you will stay in the Netherlands for more than four months, then you need to register with the local authorities, the municipality. After registration the municipality office will send a social security number (BSN) to your Dutch address.
Required documents 

Passport or European ID card.

Rental agreement for your Dutch address (if you do not have a rental agreement then you must bring a written statement of approval signed by the main tenant and a copy of his/her passport).
Birth Certificate (legalized)* - please note that is only required if you staying for longer than one year or if you are not staying in accommodation in Amsterdam or Amstelveen. Should you be living outside Amsterdam or Amstelveen and your birth certificate is not in Dutch, English, French or German, then you must supply a sworn translation into one of these languages.

Students who are married will also need to bring their marriage certificate (legalized)*.

* The legalization method depends on the respective country. The Dutch missions in other countries are responsible for legalizing foreign documents for use in the Netherlands. The documents must first have been legalized by the country’s own authorities, usually the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the country where the document was issued.

You will need to open a bank account in order to arrange your day-to-day finances in the Netherlands. Especially for Non-EU students and students who find a small job in the Netherlands it is recommended to open a bank account.

VU University Amsterdam recommends opening a bank account with the ING bank, because you do not need to have a BSN number and your bank card is provided immediately after you complete the procedure.

Required documents for opening a bank account are:

Valid passport
Proof of an address in the Netherlands (e.g. a rental agreement)
Proof of registration at VU University Amsterdam.

Opening a bank account, including a debit card with chip functionality and (Dutch) Internet banking, involves a one-off cost €20 and thereafter €3.75 every three months. The nearest local branch of the ING is in the neighbourhood of Uilenstede in the shopping mall Gelderlandplein. For additional information, please see the ING website.

You will be invited by email for an appointment with a bank officer at an ING bank located nearby your accommodation. Here you can open an bank account where you will receive your bank card immediately after you completed the registration.

It is important that you are properly insured during your time in the Netherlands. VU University Amsterdam requires all incoming international students to be properly insured by an internationally recognized insurance agency for the duration of their stay (this is also required by Dutch law). Your insurance policy should cover all costs related to sudden illness, accident or death.

Health insurance (ziektekostenverzekering)
Everyone living in the Netherlands is legally obliged to have health insurance. However, the rules are quite complex for exchange students. Extensive information on this subject can be found on the Nuffic website. We recommend AON Students Insurance company, an agent will be present during the arrival days, since they offer a day to day rate. However, you are free to choose your own insurance company.

EU health insurance card (EHIC) schemes differ from country to country and might not always live up to expectations. Therefore we strongly advise you to top up your coverage by taking out an additional student insurance policy to cover for travel, repatriation and liability.

Liability insurance (aansprakelijkheidsverzekering)
If you damage someone’s property or cause an accident, then Dutch law states that you are responsible for paying the costs of this. You are therefore advised to take out a liability insurance policy, especially if you will be working in a lab or doing research using expensive instruments.

Travel insurance (reisverzekering)
When temporarily studying in another country, most students make use of the opportunity to travel and become acquainted with new cities and countries. It is important that you have a suitable travel insurance policy to cover the costs of stolen baggage, repatriation etc.

Insurance packages
To simplify the business of arranging suitable insurance during your time in the Netherlands, it is advisable to consult your insurance company and explain that you will be going on exchange for a semester or an entire academic year. If your insurance company is unable to meet your needs, then you may consult either of the following companies, each of which offers packages specifically tailored to the needs of international students.

Experience shows that living and studying in the Netherlands for one year costs a student between €1000 and €1,100 per month. Some students manage to spend less, but this of course depends on your own lifestyle. An indication of likely monthly expenses:

- Rent for housing: €450
- Food: €250
- Insurance: €100
- Public transport: €50
- Books: €50
- Other costs: €60
- Total: €960

Working while studying

You cannot count on finding a source of additional income after you arrive and, unless you are from an EU member state, your opportunities to work are restricted. If you are a non-EU student, under Dutch law you are only permitted to work a maximum of 10 hours per week if you have a work permit.

How many hours am I allowed to work in the Netherlands?
If you hold a passport from a country that belongs to the European Union (EU) (with the exception of Croatia), the European Economic Area (EEA) or Switzerland, then you are permitted to work in the Netherlands without limitation. If this is not the case, then you are only permitted to work a maximum of 10 hours per week averaged over the year or full-time during the summer months (June, July, August). Your employer will also be required to apply for a work permit.

Do I have to pay income tax if I work in the Netherlands?
Under Dutch law, everyone who works in the Netherlands is obliged to pay income tax to the Dutch government. However, the rules may be different if you are already paying income tax in your home country and that country has signed a treaty with the Netherlands that income tax is only to be paid in one of the two countries. All EU member states have signed such a treaty.

What does the Dutch government do for international students working in the Netherlands?
The Dutch government has a comprehensive system of social security, insurance and tax measures related to working in the Netherlands.

More information can be found on the Nuffic website Working while studying. There is also a factsheet on international students and part-time jobs (pdf).

Amsterdam is a city of bicycles. With an extensive network of cycle lanes, bicycle parking everywhere and even traffic lights specifically for bicycles, there is no safer or easier place to cycle than here. There is a bike shop in the basement of the main building of the university. Bike sales for exchange students will also be arranged several times throughout the year. Most students arriving for the first time in Amsterdam find that buying a (second-hand) bike is both an affordable way to travel between home and study, as well as a great way of getting to know the city and the surrounding area.

Public transport
The city of Amsterdam has an extensive public transport network consisting of trams, metro services, buses, ferries and trains. Extensive maps and timetables of all routes can be found on the GVB (municipal transport company) website.

Public transport smart card (OV-chipkaart)
The most convenient (and affordable) method of paying for public transport is the OV-chipkaart. You can buy an anonymous (refillable) card at ticket vending machines, GVB Tickets & Info locations, certain newsagents and supermarkets. More information is available on the GVB website.
Check in, check out
It is very important that your remember to check both in and out when using your OV-chipkaart. This can be done by holding the card against the reader present on platforms (for trains and metro) and on board the vehicle (for buses and trams). You must also check in and out when changing to a different line or mode of transport.

If you have a smartphone, the app 9292 (available in English) is a convenient way of planning your journey.

9292 at the iOS App Store
9292 at the Google Play Store


During your stay you will have access to VUnet, the internal network of VU University. You will be sent login details during the process of preparing for your arrival. It is important that you familiarize yourself with VUnet, as a great deal of important information is only available via this network. Registration for courses etc is also carried out via VUnet.