If you intend to live and work in Amsterdam or anywhere else in the Netherlands then it is absolutely essential that you have a local Dutch bank account. Generally, standard bank accounts can be opened once you have an income in place.
To open a bank account you normally need to visit a branch in person, preferably near to where you live or work with various documents in-hand (although because of the coronavirus it may not be possible currently to visit a branch).
On the other hand, new mobile banks can be opened quickly and easily online.
When you register with the authorities in the Netherlands you will receive a Burger Service Nummer (citizen service number). This is used as both a fiscal number for dealing with tax and also as a general identifier for government services and healthcare. You will normally need to provide a bank this number when opening an account.
Mobile Banks in the Netherlands
We will start with the mobile banks as they are the easiest to open, which may be useful if you have just arrived in the Netherlands.
Mobile banks are becoming ever popular particularly with the younger generation and offer a raft of mobile app-based features.
bunq (bunq.com) – A modern app-based Dutch bank (officially launched in 2015) with international portal available in English, Dutch, French, German, Italian, Portuguese and Spanish – making it a smart choice for expats.
For personal consumers it offers either a Premium account (€7.99 per month) and a Premium SuperGreen account (€16.99 per month, a sustainable banking product which plants a tree for every €100 spent on the issued metal card).
Opening a bunq account by the app (Apple/Android) can be done in 5 minutes as long as you have your ID at hand and a European address. You can even open an account if you don’t yet have your BSN number.
bunq account holders get interest paid on balances up to €10,000 (with opt-out possible), a Travel Card (Mastercard credit card) which has zero foreign exchange fees and the possibility to send a payment link worldwide which can be paid off by credit card or bank transfers.
The app has instant notifications on transactions and makes it easy to set budgets and open sub-accounts. bunq also allows users to choose how their deposits are held and invested.
bunq is fully registered as a bank in the Netherlands and is covered to €100,000 by the Deposit Guarantee Scheme (DGS). You can join bunq here
N26 (n26.com) – An app-based bank based in Germany which offers mobile banking throughout Europe. The standard N26 account is free, a premium N26 You account costs €9.90 per month and the N26 Metal account costs €16.90 per month. Account holders are issued with a Mastercard debit card.
The N26 You account offers fee-free withdrawals worldwide and Allianz travel insurance coverage. The standard account allows 5 free monthly withdrawals in euros per month, non-euro transactions have a 1.7% fee. The N26 Metal comes with a metal card and has additional mobile phone and car rental insurance coverage.
Any transactions on N26 cards comes through as instant push notifications on the app. Support is available in English, French, German, Italian and Spanish. Accounts can be opened in 8 minutes via the app although you will need your BSN number.
Documents required to open a bank account
To open a standard Dutch current account from one of the main retail banks you will need to bring the following documents with you to the bank in order to satisfy the usual know-your-customer procedures:
Identity Document – This should be a valid passport (Dutch or international); a valid Dutch driving license; an identity card from certain EU countries may also be accepted. If you have a residence permit card you should also bring this.
BSN number – Burger Service Nummer (citizen service number).
Proof of Income – The bank will require some evidence of income in the form of an employment contract, recent pay slips or a statement of employment benefits. Without any income you might not be allowed to open a standard current account. Students should bring proof of enrollment at their university or educational institution. Also see How much money will I earn in the Netherlands?
Proof of Address – The bank may sometimes ask for proof of address such as a rental contract for your house/apartment or a recent utility bill.
In our experience opening a bank account in the Netherlands can sometimes be a hit and miss affair, especially if you don’t yet have everything in place. It really depends on the member of staff – you may get to experience the “dat kan niet” (“that’s not allowed”) attitude prevalent amongst a few Dutch service personnel! If you do hit a brick wall then it’s best to try another branch or another bank.
Hopefully you will find someone who can show flexibility in getting your account sorted.
Retail Banks in the Netherlands
The following is a summary of the main Dutch banking options. The big 3 (ABN AMRO, ING and Rabobank) have significant market share; online upstart Knab has recently shaken-up the scene whilst ASN and Triodos brand themselves as ethical banks.
ABN AMRO (abnamro.nl) – The popular Dutch banking giant has branches all over the country. ABN AMRO has a special international clients division so it is well used to dealing with expats, particularly in the main city branches. It offers internationals a full range of financial services such as bank accounts, insurance, investments and mortgages.
In addition it also offers current accounts and insurance packages for international students in the Netherlands; it also has a specialist desk for dealing with international high flyers in the sport and entertainment fields.
ABN AMRO has an extensive English version of its website, internet banking portal and mobile banking app. It can provide correspondence and documentation in English where possible, although legal agreements will usually be in Dutch.
You can open an ABN AMRO account in 2 ways. Setting up an appointment online and then visiting the branch personally (or sending documents by courier). This is possible for EU passport holders and the process will take about 5 days.
You can also download the ABN AMRO Mobile Banking app (Apple/Android) and make an application within the app. This is possible for international passport holders and you need to upload a photo of yourself. Via the app you can get an account number in around 4 hours.
If you want English-language help in setting up an ABN AMRO bank account then check out Partner Pete, which can assist in setting up an appointment. It also helps with home utilities and insurance.
For those with at least €200,000 in investable capital ABN Amro has Preferred Banking which gives a more personal service and the use of a third-party lounge at Schiphol Airport when flying to non-Schengen destinations.
As a side note, the name ABN AMRO originates from 2 Dutch banks which merged in 1991 – ABN bank (Algemene Bank Nederland) and AMRO bank (Amsterdam and Rotterdam Bank). ABN AMRO was purchased by a consortium of Royal Bank of Scotland / Santander / Fortis in 2007.
Following the financial crisis, the bank was nationalised in 2009 by the Dutch government along with Fortis Nederland. In 2015 it was partly relisted on the Dutch stock exchange, with the government planning to slowly reduce its shareholding over the coming years.
ING (ing.nl) – Internationale Nederlanden Groep is a major international banking, insurance and asset management group. It became the largest Dutch retail bank after taking over the old Post Office bank Postbank which was re-branded as ING.
Non-Dutch nationals can open an ING account if they have a link to the Netherlands. You would need to show the following documents in the branch:
Your main identity document plus one of the following:
- if you live in the Netherlands you can show an extract from the Dutch Personal Records Database (BRP) from your local authority.
- if you work in the Netherlands you can show an employment contract.
- if you study in the Netherlands you can show proof of enrollment with the educational institution.
- If you own a house in the Netherlands, you will need to present an ‘Eigendomsinformatie‘ (Ownership Information) document.
ING offers an English version of its mobile banking app and online banking portal.
Rabobank (rabobank.nl) – This is a privately owned Dutch bank and financial services group with roots in agricultural and cooperative finance. In terms of the big 3 Dutch retail banks, it is the second largest bank by assets and has higher safety ratings from the international agencies.
Rabo has many branches in Amsterdam and all over the Netherlands – unfortunately, it does not have any English language available on its website or internet/mobile banking. To set up an account with Rabobank you should visit one of their main city branches.
Knab (knab.nl) – An online bank set up in 2012 by financial group Aegon. It offers the following packages:
- a standard account (Knab Plus) or joint account (Knab Samen) for €5 per month. This includes up to 5 sub-accounts and the possibility of applying for a free credit card.
- a business account (Knab Zakelijk) for €6 per month which offers unlimited sub-accounts and 1,000 free transactions per year.
Knab offers slightly higher savings interest rates compared to other Dutch banks – however these are only available to package holders. It also provides other financial services such as investments, crowdfunding and mortgages. The Knab online portal is only available in Dutch, you can get more info and apply here
SNS Bank (snsbank.nl) – SNS stands for Samenwerkende Nederlandse Spaarbanken (Co-operative Dutch Savings banks). Since 2017, this Dutch retail bank has been part of De Volksbank group which is owned by the Dutch state following a nationalisation of SNS in 2013. SNS Bank has about 200 branches in the Netherlands, with 2 in central Amsterdam – at Bilderdijkstraat 50 and Ceintuurbaan 334. It has automatic teller machines (ATMs) located in HEMA stores.
SNS provides banking and financial services to retail customers with all its online and banking services being in Dutch. However, an interesting option to some international clients is the SNS EU Betaalrekening account. This is only available to those over 18 who do not have a BSN number or Dutch address but have the right to live in the EU and have some sort of connection to the Netherlands.
ASN Bank (asnbank.nl) – A small Dutch online bank (also part of De Volksbank group) headquartered in The Hague and focussed on ethical banking and sustainable investments. ASN offers interest on its current account. The bank is branchless so accounts can only be applied for online – you also need to post a copy of your identity document. No English language info or products are available. ASN requires that you already have a Dutch bank account, so this not really an option for arriving expats.
Triodos Bank (triodos.nl) – Also a small ethical Dutch bank which offers an online current account and other financial products. As with ASN, accounts can be applied for online and documents need to be posted – it takes around one week to set up an account. Triodos has no branches but does have an office in Zeist (near Utrecht). There are no English products available for Dutch-based clients though Triodos does have an English website for the UK market.
Van Lanschot (vanlanschot.nl) – The oldest independent bank in the Netherlands which dates back to 1737. It offers current accounts and other financial services and has a particular focus on entrepreneurs, professionals and high net-worth individuals. It has no English info on its main website. Headquartered in ‘s-Hertogenbosch, it has a single branch in many Dutch cities including Amsterdam at Apollolaan 150.
For non-Dutch speaking internationals setting up in the Netherlands, probably the best banking bet is either going with mobile bank bunq or ABN AMRO, followed by ING and German mobile bank N26. For those who can speak Dutch or have Dutch friends or partners to assist, then you have more choice.
How Dutch bank accounts work
Once your current account (betaalrekening) is confirmed you will get an international bank account number (IBAN) code which has 18 characters in the Netherlands. Each bank also has a special BIC identifier code, for example ABNANL2A for ABN Amro.
You will shortly receive a local debit card (betaalpas or more commonly known as PIN pas) which can be used to withdraw cash at ATMs (geldautomaat) and make chip and pin or contactless payments at retailers. The card is either Maestro (Mastercard) or V-Pay (Visa) branded as the old Dutch PIN branding has been phased out.
Contactless payments have been increased in 2020 (due to the coronavirus) up to a limit of €50 per transaction with a PIN needed after each €100 of consecutive payments.
The debit card also allows international transactions – Euro currency withdrawals in the eurozone are generally free but you will be charged for foreign currency (non-euro) transactions.
Expect a monthly charge for running a current account and debit card – this will range from about €1.30 to €7 per month, depending on additional services included in your banking package. Credit cards in the Netherlands are slowly becoming more accepted though a number of Dutch retailers still won’t accept them.
Dutch internet banking and mobile banking are popular and can be easily set up with your account. Most banks will send you a special card reader or number generator for use when logging in and/or making online transactions.
An online payment system called iDeal is used by many Dutch online retailers which links securely to your internet banking portal to make direct payments without charge.
Note that due to issues with international fraud, Dutch banks default the debit cards for use only within Europe. You must (temporarily) set it to “worldwide use” using internet/mobile banking if you want to make withdrawals outside Europe. You can also change the maximum daily withdrawal amount which is generally set at either €250 or €500 per day.
Bills in the Netherlands are generally paid either by direct debit or online bank transfer. Many transfers are made using the acceptgiro system where the payment has a special reference number. This used to be done by filling in a yellow slip of paper (attached to the invoice) and sent back to the bank – however the majority of acceptgiro payments are made online.
Note, standard cheques are not used in the Netherlands – if you deposit a cheque into your account (even if denominated in euros) you will likely be charged a hefty €15-€20 for the privilege.
Once your main current account is set up, you can easily open a savings accounts (sparen), although interest rates in the Netherlands and Euro area are currently very low. You will find slightly higher interest savings rates on offer from either smaller banks or foreign banks. For a listing see Savings Accounts Rates in the Netherlands
Investment accounts (beleggen) can also be set up at most banks or by using a specialist broker such as Binck. Ethical investment products are available with ASN and Triodos Bank – some of which are exempt from Dutch wealth tax.
Note, Dutch bank deposits are officially “guaranteed” up to €100,000 by the Dutch central bank. A temporary 3 month guarantee up to €500,000 is given for proceeds of a house sale. If you have more than €100,000 in savings then at least spread it around different banks or consider other international diversification strategies.
Last updated April 8 2020 (first published in 2010).