Depending on where you come from and how much time you’ll be spending in the Netherlands, you may want to consider opening a Dutch bank account. Ultimately, this depends on you, but we’ll highlight some things you should take into account when deciding whether or not to do so.
Do I need a Dutch bank account for my stay in the Netherlands?
Yes, no and maybe. Again, it all depends… Generally, those with a Single Euro Payments Area (SEPA) account often choose to stick with what they’ve got and not open a new account for their stay in Maastricht – and they don’t encounter any issues. On the other hand, if you don’t have a SEPA account, you will almost certainly need to open a Dutch account, mainly because you’ll need an IBAN. As a result of this (and the fact that international transfer fees are prohibitively high), virtually all non-EU students end up opening a Dutch (or at least a SEPA) account when they move to Maastricht.
There have also been cases where landlords are less willing to rent to those who don’t have a Dutch account or an IBAN. We cannot say how likely this is to happen, but it might be another consideration to take into account.
Can I get a job without a Dutch bank account?
The basic answer is yes. Again, it comes down to whether the account you have is a SEPA account and whether you have an IBAN. SEPA accounts don’t necessarily have to be Dutch, so as long as you have one, you won’t need a Dutch account.
Ultimately, though, the answer might also depend on the particular employer – some may only wish to hire people with a Dutch account.
How do I open a bank account in the Netherlands?
Step 1: Choose your bank. Some big names are given below (although there are many more); do a little bit of research and see what suits your needs – for example, ING has student accounts, but ABN AMRO is better at communicating in English.
Step 2: Get your documents in order. You’ll need:
- Your BSN (burgerservicenummer) – this is basically a citizen service number; you will only receive one after registering with the municipality.
- Proof of ID – passport or ID card.
- Proof of address – e.g. your rental contract or a utility bill.
- (For non-EU: Dutch residence permit or registration with the Foreign Police.)
Step 3: Set up an appointment. Check out your chosen bank’s website to set up an appointment to open an account; some banks offer the option to do this online (e.g. ABN AMRO), while some don’t even need an appointment and allow you to simply show up with the required documents (e.g. the ING servicepunt). This varies from bank to bank so check beforehand!
Step 4: Once you’ve opened the account, your cards will arrive in the mail; this may take up to a week (sometimes more), and banks usually send the cards and the details to activate them separately, so you may have to wait a bit.
Voilà! You have your Dutch bank account. Keep reading to find out about some strange features of the Dutch banking system that might save you some confusion…
What are the biggest banks in Maastricht?
Dutch banking quirks
I call them ‘quirks’ because they are unlike anything I had ever encountered before – but that might just be me!
Online payments: QR code and the e.identifier
If you want to make a payment or transfer online, you may be asked to authorise the transaction. There are two ways to do this:
- QR code: you’ll need to download your bank’s app on your phone and scan the code shown online.
- E.identifier: banks like ABN AMRO will send you a strange little gadget somewhat resembling a calculator; you can use this to make online payments instead of the QR code (although, speaking from experience, I highly recommend that you activate the QR code option, since carrying around your e.identifier is a pain in the ass). The whole thing sounds complicated but is pretty intuitive, and the bank will send you information so that you can figure it out pretty easily.
This is basically the main method of online payment used in the Netherlands. I won’t waste words (or your time) trying to explain it, because the company itself has made this nifty little demo showing you exactly how it works.
This is a card type issued by Mastercard. We have a page dedicated to Maestro cards, so definitely check that out. But you should know that many places in NL will only accept Maestro, so be wary! You do not want to be in the situation where you can’t pay for your meal or your shopping because you don’t have one!