Practical Matters

Living in Amsterdam
In order to make sure your semester goes as smoothly as possible, there are several practical mattes which should be taken care of before and after arrival.  We are here to help you with each and every process.  You can find a complete list of needed practical matters here.

Upon arriving in Amsterdam, you will need to register with a local general practitioner (huisarts in Dutch) so that you can see a doctor if needed. Your general practitioner will be your first point of contact for all medical problems except in the case of real emergencies.  A member from the Gap Year Experience team will help you to register with a general practitioner upon arrival.  

Please be aware that the Netherlands may have different customs and rules regarding the prescription of medicine than you are used to.  For this reason, it is important that you make plans in advance to get any needed prescriptions while you abroad.

You can make an appointment with a GP over the phone, and in some cases online or by email. You can also receive advice over the phone.  In the case of serious problems, the doctor may be able to visit you at home (though this is not common practice).

Please make sure to bring any needed medical documents of your medical history with you so that you can share this with your new doctor.  This enables the doctor to assess your medical history and will help you to accurately communicate about any medical conditions or problems you may have. Please always bring a valid photo ID and valid proof of insurance with you to your doctor appointments.  

Please consult this document to find a doctor near you.


Everyone living in the Netherlands is obliged to have health insurance, otherwise you risk a fine.  Please check with your current insurance company to see if you will still be covered while studying abroad.  If you are and EU citizen, you are likely able to use the European Health Insurance Card (for EU, EEA and Swiss citizens). 

If visits to a general practitioner while abroad are not covered by your current health insurance policy, we advise you to take out international student health insurance with AON Student Insurance.  You can find more information here.

Please be aware that if you want to work alongside your studies, or are doing an internship in which you earn more than €150 a month or €1500 a year, you are required to take out a Dutch health insurance policy, even if you are covered by your insurance at home.  


After acceptance to the programme, VU Amsterdam will apply for a visa and/or residence permit on your behalf. Depending on your nationality, you may need the following:

  • Residence permit (VVR) or
  • Entry visa (MVV) and residence permit (VVR)

Please check below to see what applies to you. 

All citizens who stay in the Netherlands for more than 4 months must register with the municipality, regardless of nationality (this also applies to EU students). After registration, the municipality will send a social security number (BSN) to your Dutch address.  If you plan to work alongside your studies, you must have a BSN number.

You must also deregister before leaving the Netherlands.  The Gap Year Experience team and the Introduction Team will help you through this process upon arrival.

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).
We recommend that all students open a Dutch bank account.  Please be aware that it is unfortunately not possible to open a bank account at most banks when you are a minor and your parents/legal guardians are not with you.  You can find more information about how to open a bank account and how you can open a bank account if you are a minor here.

Amsterdam is one of the most bicycle friendly cities in the world. In fact, there are more bicycles than people! It should then come as no surprise that cycling is by far the most frequently used transportation method by the locals. With an extensive network of cycling lanes, bicycle parking and even traffic lights specifically for bicycles, there is no better place to cycle than in the Netherlands.

The BikeBoys provide students with high quality second-hand bikes for a good price.  The BikeBoys will even buy back your bike at the end of your semester!  For more information and ordering, please visit their website.

Alternatively, you may wish to make use of Swapfiets! The word fiets translates to bicycle in Dutch (a very important word in the Netherlands).

Swapfiets is named after the concept of bicycle swapping. How does it work?  You pay a monthly fee in exchange for a reliable bike and full support services. If your bike needs maintenance, gets stolen, or you have a flat tire, Swapfiets promises to replace your bike within 12 hours. They'll even come to you!  If they can't fix your bike within 15 minutes, then they'll swap it for a new one until your bike can be repaired.


The IT Service Desk can help you with problems and questions about the use of IT services at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam.

Available by mail and phone on working days from 7.30 AM to 5.00 PM. 

E-mail: servicedesk.it@vu.nl 

Telephone: 020 59 80000

Counters IT Service Desk

In the Main Building (0A-11) and W&N Building (M-020) 

Opening hours: 9.00 AM - 5.00 PM

On VUnet, staff and students can find different manuals for the use of IT services at VU Amsterdam. You can log in to VUnet when you have a VUnetID.

For questions about IT services in your housing, please contact your housing provider.

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