It is extremely practical as a degree student to have a Dutch bank account while studying in the Netherlands. Unlike other countries, credit cards are not commonly accepted as payment, and all stores do accept the Dutch debit cards. Few students use cash as they can transfer money using bank apps with ease and they pay for groceries, cell phone subscription etc. with their debit card.
If you open a Dutch bank account, you will receive this debit card that allows you to pay in shops and vending machines, or that can be used for putting credit on your online account for the photocopiers/printers at the university (where you cannot pay in cash).
Opening a bank account can be a rather lengthy procedure. Therefore we recommend to prepare for this by exploring the various options for opening a bank account before you come to the Netherlands, check what documents do you need to be able to open a bank account, and to visit a bank office in Utrecht as soon as you have registered at the municipality and received your BSN number.
We do not recommend exchange students who stay here for one semester only to try and open a bank account, since most banks will not open one for you for such a short amount of time. However, if you stay here for a year, or if you need a bank account for other reasons (e.g. Chinese national for reimbursement living cots for visa), you are able to open a bank account with your BSN number. If you have any questions about his, please contact the UCU International Office (firstname.lastname@example.org).
General requirements for opening a Dutch bank account
There are generally three requirements for opening a Dutch bank account:
- You must have valid identification
- You must have a Dutch address where you will live during your stay
- You need a proof of enrolment at the university
Banks will ask for your ‘BSN’ number. This is a unique identification number assigned by the Dutch government, which you obtain when you register with the city. Banks generally will not open an account for you if you have do not have a BSN yet. Banks usually only open a bank account if you stay in the Netherlands longer than one full semester.
There are several banks that offer the opportunity to open a Dutch bank account to international students. The following bank offices are situated at central locations in the city center of Utrecht:
ABN AMRO Bank – Neude 4, Utrecht
ING Bank - Nachtegaalstraat 22-24, Utrecht
Rabobank – Maliebaan 15, Utrecht
SNS Bank - Nachtegaalstraat 15, Utrecht
Other money matters
Even if you intend to open a Dutch bank account you still need to have other means of payment at your disposal after your arrival as Dutch bank account takes time to prepare. Therefore we strongly recommend that you bring:
- some cash for small purchases
- a credit card (Visa or Mastercard)
- a bank card that allows to use an ATM (Automated Teller Machine) in the Netherlands. Cirrus and Maestro are widely available here, but check with your bank to make sure
- another solution is traveller’s checks, as these are insured. Note however that you cannot use these in stores, you will have to exchange them for cash at a bank or change bureau first.
If you are staying in the Netherlands for less than one year, you may have to pay fees to open a bank account. If you are only here for a short period of time, we recommend that you use your bank account from back home if at all possible.
Further information on opening a Dutch bank account can be found here.
Frequently Asked Questions
For any finance related questions you may have, have a look at our frequently asked questions.