If you've decided to make the move to the Leiden region, whether for work, family, education, or simply because you have your heart set on it, then it's important to make sure you take care of all the practical steps for the move. Knowing what to prepare for, and which priority you should give each step, can make your move less stressful and it will give you more time to enjoy exploring the beautiful Leiden region itself!
Take a look below to learn more about what steps should be on your to-do list for preparing a move to the Leiden region.
One of the most important first steps to take is finding housing in the Netherlands. You will need an address to register at when you first move here, and so finding accommodation that allows you to register there is a crucial part of moving. Not all rental apartments and houses will allow you to register at their address, so it's vital that you check this before signing any rental contracts. Incorrect registration can result in fines, and it can also have more serious consequences.
Keep in mind that finding housing in the Netherlands, especially in cities, can take some time and it may be difficult at first. This is why it's important to keep an open mind when searching. For instance, narrow down your 'must-haves', and know that the housing you find for your first six months or year in the Netherlands doesn't have to be the place you stay in long-term. Many internationals move to different places once living in the Netherlands for a little longer, as networking and getting to know others in your local area can be hugely helpful in the search. For more advice on finding housing, check out our article on this subject below.
Make a BSN Registration Appointment
You should make an appointment to receive your BSN within 5 days of arriving in the Netherlands. A BSN (Citizen Service Number) is a unique number that will be assigned to you for life, and it is vital to have this BSN in order to set up a Dutch bank account, take out health insurance, and to follow many other official procedures in the Netherlands.
In order to receive a BSN, you will need to make an appointment at your local municipality to register there. Leiden International Centre facilitates BSN registration appointments for internationals living in Leiden, Leiderdorp, Voorschoten, and Zoeterwoude. You can learn more about how to make the appointment, what documents you need to bring, and what else to expect, on our BSN Registration page.
Open a Dutch Bank Account
After receiving your BSN, you will be able to set up a Dutch bank account. There are a range of Dutch banks that you can choose from, but the ones that most internationals choose are ING, ABN Amro, and Rabobank, because all three of these banks offer English services. Having a Dutch bank account will not only allow you to pay your rent more easily, but it will also make it easier to receive a salary from a Dutch employer. Some Dutch banks, such as ABN Amro, allow you to open a bank account without a BSN, however there may be certain limitations regarding how you can use your bank account until you receive the BSN.
A Dutch bank account will also let you use a payment system called iDeal, which is used throughout the Netherlands for online payments. Even governmental websites will use this option (for instance, for visa application payments). There are also some shops in the Netherlands that don't accept payment from certain foreign bank cards, so having a Dutch bank account can ensure that your adjustment to living in the Leiden region is more stress-free.
Set Up Your DigiD Account
The DigiD is a secure way of verifying your identity when you access different governmental websites.Your DigiD is linked to your BSN, and is a private method of identification that you should not share with others as only you should have access to your DigiD account. Using your DigiD account, you can file your annual income tax return, register a change of address, apply for a new visa, and much more. This means that many smaller administrative matters can be done entirely online, and even larger ones (such as a visa renewal application) can be done predominantly online. You will need to have a BSN before you can apply for your DigiD. Learn more on our DigiD page.
Set Up Dutch Health Insurance
Once you've navigated getting your BSN and your Dutch bank account, the next thing on your to-do list should be taking out a Dutch health insurance package. You have up to 4 months, from the date of your BSN registration, to take out a Dutch health insurance package. If you don't sign up for a health insurance package within 4 months of your BSN registration, you will be fined. Having a Dutch health insurance is mandatory for everyone living and working in the Netherlands (with a few exceptions).
There are numerous different health insurance packages available, but you will need to take out at least the basic package. These basic packages do not cover, however, certain additional healthcare-related costs, such as dentists. If you would like more comprehensive health insurance coverage then you can, of course, add more to your package. For more information about Dutch health insurance, visit our page on the topic below.
Get a Public Transport Card
Of course, once you're more settled into your new home, the next step is to figure out the most effective way to commute to work, school, university, or just to explore the Leiden region. Luckily, the Dutch public transport system is efficient and well-connected, meaning that there are usually numerous different ways to get from A to B. In Leiden itself the main forms of public transport are buses and trains, but in nearby the Hague, for instance, there are metros and trams too.
All public transport within the Netherlands can be used with something called an OV-chipkaart (literally a 'public transport chip card'). There are two different types of OV-chipkaart - a blue anonymous one, which can be used by anyone, and then a yellow personalised one, which can only be used by one person. The yellow personalised card also lets you sign up for subscriptions that can give you a variety of discounts when using public transport. You can learn more about these cards, and the transport system in general, on our Public Transportation page.
Explore the Leiden region!
Once you've taken care of all the practicalities of moving to the Leiden region, then why not take the time to explore the Leiden region itself a little more? Leiden itself is known for its many fascinating museums and rich history, with exhibitions on natural history, art, culture, and science. Within the wider Leiden region, there are also many beautiful municipalities, scenic biking routes, and activities for the whole family to fill your free time with discovering.
If you'd like to learn more about the Leiden region itself, then why not check out our page on discovering the Leiden region below?