Opening a bank account in the Netherlands doesn’t have to be a hassle, all you need is to pick the right account and prepare your paperwork before getting started.
This guide will cover how non-residents can open a bank account in the Netherlands, including a step-by-step breakdown of the application process.
Am I eligible for a bank account in the Netherlands?
Yes, you can open a Dutch bank account if you’re moving to the Netherlands for work or study.
To do so, you’ll first need to obtain a residence permit. Depending on your nationality, you can either apply for a residence permit from the Immigration Naturalization Service after your arrival in the Netherlands, or from the Dutch embassy or consulate in your home country.
After receiving your residence permit, you’d need to register for a citizen service number (BSN) at your local municipality. The BSN is required for your bank account application, along with your international passport.
Do you need a bank account in the Netherlands?
While it’s not a legal requirement to have a Dutch bank account when you live in the Netherlands, it’s certainly more convenient and cost-effective to manage your finances locally than from an overseas bank account. Especially for day-to-day transactions such as paying rent, bills, public transport or withdrawing cash from the ATMs.
Which kinds of bank accounts are available to non-residents in the Netherlands?
There are two types of bank accounts available: current and savings accounts.
The account you choose will depend on your purpose for opening an account. If you wish to accumulate savings in Euros, then a savings account might be your best bet. On the other hand, if you want an account for everyday spending or to pay bills, then you might choose a current account instead.
Do note that there are niche accounts available as well, such as student accounts or joint accounts. Students moving to the Netherlands should check beforehand if they qualify for student accounts even if they are enrolled in a Netherlands-based institution. Joint accounts, on the other hand, is an account that is shared between two or more people. You’ll find both joint savings and current accounts in the Netherlands.
A current account, also known as a checking account, is used for everyday expenses.
This gives you quick access to cash, a handy debit or credit card, access to local ATMs, mobile banking features, and more. Do note that current accounts in the Netherlands typically do not offer interest.
Savings accounts act as money pots, where you store your cash and let it accumulate over time.
You could save towards a specific goal (like a new home) or towards a more general aim like retirement. Savings accounts in the Netherlands sometimes come with a lock-in period, where you are either unable to access your cash for a fixed period of time or will forfeit your interest if you use your money within a set timeframe.
Compare savings account interest rates across providers and shop around before choosing an account.
Which Dutch banks offer bank account for non-residents?
Here are the top banking picks for expat residents:
Local bank accounts
Local Dutch bank accounts have their own unique sign-up process requiring your Dutch residence permit and proof of residence. Dutch bank providers in the Netherlands include ING, ABN Amro and Rabobank.
Best for English-speaking expats
Headquartered in Amsterdam, ABN AMRO Bank is the third-largest bank in the Netherlands and provides all information in Dutch and English.
It has physical branches all around the country, as well as mobile and online banking platforms.
Accounts can also be opened in advance of your move to the Netherlands, making ABN AMRO an ideal choice to start with.
Best traditional bank for expats and students
ING is the largest Dutch bank in the Netherlands and offers a range of savings and current account options designed for different customer profiles. Its facilities also include a mobile app and an online banking portal with both English and Dutch versions.
International students and graduates can also enjoy the convenience of opening a free ING bank account from abroad.
International bank accounts
You may also want to consider opening an account with an international bank that has branches in the Netherlands, especially if these banks are available in your country.
If you wish to sign up for an international bank account in the Netherlands, you should follow the bank’s specific sign-up process which may resemble an international registration process instead.
For instance, you may not be asked for a Dutch utility bill or proof of residence in the Netherlands. Additionally, most international banks offer their services in English, a huge point of consideration if you aren’t familiar with Dutch.
These are some of the top international banks in the Netherlands:
- Bank of America
- BNP Paribas
- Deutsche Bank
Digital banks in the Netherlands have the most flexible registration requirements. They are available in multiple countries and offer great benefits to expats, such as holding multiple currencies or low ATM fees. To sign up you will usually only need your national identification card and proof of income.
Here are some of the most popular digital banks in the Netherlands:
Compare current accounts in the Netherlands
Disclaimer: The products listed on this page are not representative of the whole market.
What are the benefits of opening a bank account in the Netherlands?
Myriad services are now at foreigners’ disposal to send and receive money internationally, but there are some advantages to having a local account.
- Lower fees when using domestic services. Moving or withdrawing money between international and Dutch accounts can incur high fees, whereas you’d pay low transaction fees when using a local account. These kinds of fees can be usually waived for students.
- Professional advantage. When you open an account before leaving, you can provide your future employer with your banking details ahead of time, saving yourself time on administration.
- Housing-related benefits. Non-residents moving to the Netherlands may be required to hold a local bank account when renting an apartment or to get Dutch mortgage.
What should foreigners and expats look for in a bank account?
The bank account you should choose ultimately depends on your reason for opening an account and features that suit your needs.
Here are common features that non-residents want when they open a Netherlands bank account.
- Low fees. Most Dutch banks charge minimal monthly fees, but card-related fees, international money transfers and currency conversion costs could really add up. You should keep an eye out for bank accounts with low charges.
- Range of services. Consider what are some of the banking services or financial products you’d need. Most Dutch banks offer services such as loans, insurance and investment products on top of their savings and transactional accounts.
- Debit cards. A basic debit card with Maestro and or VPay is a must-have in the Netherlands. While it may seem strange, credit cards are not widely accepted in the Netherlands. So make sure that your choice of bank account offers a low-cost, preferably fee-free, debit card for your daily transactional needs.
- Accessibility. Will you be visiting your bank branch often for customer support? Or would you prefer to manage your banking services online? This will determine whether you opt for a traditional bank or digital bank account.
- International transfers. It’s likely that non-residents might want to transfer money back home. In this case, you should ensure that your chosen account offers international transfers at a competitive price point.
- Multicurrency features. Expats might find it useful to hold a bank account with multicurrency features. This way, you won’t need to constantly convert money and incur exchange rate fees.
- English-speaking customer service. For those unfamiliar with Dutch, having a bank account that comes with English-speaking customer service is a must.
The importance of debit cards in the Netherlands
In most developed countries, credit cards – alongside cash and debit cards – are typically widely accepted by small and large retail stores alike.
But in the Netherlands, having a debit card (pinpas) is essential as most shops and cafes don’t accept credit cards due to the country’s debt-averse culture. In fact, you’re likely to come across many places that display a sticker indicating ‘Hier alleen pinnen’ (debit cards only) on their storefront. If you’re unsure, always check directly with the shop before making a purchase.
Debit cards issued in the Netherlands are all Maestro cards. If you’ve yet to get one from a Dutch bank, you can probably still use your foreign debit card for your daily transactional needs in the Netherlands if it has a Maestro logo on it.
How should a non-resident open a bank account in the Netherlands?
Before opening an account, check if you meet the eligibility criteria and have the required documents on hand. Do note that some bank accounts in the Netherlands may only be eligible to Dutch citizens or those above a certain monthly income level.
To open an account in the Netherlands:
- Visit a physical bank branch, or simply do so online
- When applying online, you’ll typically need to fill up the online form with your personal details and contact number
- Upload required documents and submit your application
- Upon approval, you’ll receive your debit card in the mail within a few business days
- Activate your debit card and start using your bank account
Once you’ve checked that you’re eligible to apply, start gathering your essential documents. This generally includes:
- A valid form of identification, such as your Dutch residence permit, passport or government-issued ID
- Your BSN number (Burgerservicenummer)
- Proof of residence in the Netherlands, such as a Dutch utility bill or rental contract
How to open a Dutch bank account from abroad?
If you have yet to move to the Netherlands and wish to get your local bank account set up in advance, find out if the Dutch bank of your choice offers that option (although most of them don’t allow the online opening of overseas accounts and requires in-person verification at a branch).
Alternatively, check if the Dutch bank has any arrangement with a correspondent bank or a branch in your country. Or consider a digital or mobile bank account.
Choosing the right bank account for you will make your shift into the Netherlands much easier. You can settle your day-to-day transactions without worrying about incurring foreign currency exchange fees or be charged a fee every time you withdraw cash – assuming that you decide to use the bank account in your home country for local transactions.
Since the process of opening a bank account in the Netherlands as a non-resident is a straightforward process, make sure to take the time and compare all the options available before applying for one that best suits your needs.Back to top