In the Netherlands, you need official documents to work and live. You can use some foreign documents. Others must be evaluated or exchanged. Sometimes you need a Dutch document. Find out what applies to your situation.
On this page
Citizen Service Number (BSN) and DigiD
The citizen service number (BSN) is a unique personal number assigned to everyone registered in the Personal Records Database (Basisregistratie Personen, BRP). This registration is managed by the municipality where you take up residence and must occur within 5 days of arriving in the Netherlands. This database consists of:
- permanent residents; and
- people who are registered in the Non-residents Records Database (Registratie Niet Ingezetenen, RNIBSN).
Your BSN is equivalent to a social security or national insurance number.
You only have to submit your BSN to a government body once. From then on, authorities will be able to exchange information. You will also be able to view your own information, without having to constantly resubmit your details.
Your BSN is tied to an online identification system: your DigiD. It consists of a name and password. You can apply for a DigiD only if you have a BSN.Your DigiD is a highly secure and safe means of identifying yourself to numerous organisations. It gives you access to hundreds of Dutch government and non-government websites. For instance, you use your DigiD to get an excerpt from the BRP, or to apply for reimbursement of health care costs from your medical insurance company. Visit the DigiD website to apply for a DigiD or for more information.
Professional recognition in the Netherlands
Check with a relevant competent authority in the Netherlands whether your credentials are valid in the country where you want to practise your profession, whether you are planning to practise your profession:
- in the Netherlands, using credentials you received outside the Netherlands; or
- abroad, using Dutch credentials.
The Nuffic website provides more relevant information.
Credential evaluation in the Netherlands
If you want to enter the Dutch labour market using foreign credentials, you or your future employer may want to apply for credential evaluation using the Dutch international credential evaluation system (IDW). IDW compares your foreign diplomas or certificates with the equivalent Dutch diplomas or certificates. If the credentials are comparable, that means the level of your training is comparable to that of a Dutch professional.
IDW does charge a fee for a credential evaluation of your foreign diplomas and certificates. The IDW website was established by Nuffic and the Foundation for Cooperation in Vocational Education, Training and the Labour Market (S-BB). Nuffic coordinates the evaluation of foreign credentials awarded at a higher or general secondary educational level.
Old vocational education (MBO) diplomas
If you have old Dutch vocational education (MBO) diplomas or certificates that date from before the current educational system, it may also be sensible to have your credentials evaluated. The Centres of Expertise for International Credential Evaluation (S-BB & Nuffic) can issue you with a written statement.
Note: credential evaluation is not the same as professional recognition. The statements provided by Nuffic, IDW, or S-BB do not make your foreign credentials as valid as Dutch credentials. They serve merely as recommendations.
Driving licence recognition
Do you have a foreign driving licence? Once you become a Dutch resident, you may use your foreign driving licence during a transition period. The length of this period depends on the country in which you got your driving licence. You will have to apply for a Dutch driving licence after the transition period.
In certain cases, you'll simply be able to exchange your foreign driving licence for a Dutch one. This is only possible if you are a Dutch resident and have a valid residence permit. For additional information, please visit the Netherlands Vehicle Authority website (Rijksdienst voor Wegverkeer, RDW).