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The Burgerservicenummer (BSN) in the Netherlands

BSN (short for Burgerservicenummer) is the citizen service number in the Netherlands. It’s a unique social and fiscal number issued since January 1, 2007 to every Dutch citizen, every person who emigrated to the Netherlands, as well as every foreigner who came to the Netherlands for a period of 4 months or more. The number consists of 9 digits, has no expiry date and is assigned individually (even after the death of a given person, the sequence of digits will not be used again).

Why do you need a BSN number?

Having a BSN number is necessary to perform legal work in the Kingdom of the Netherlands, but the number cannot be used as a work permit. Apart from the possibility of being legally employed by Dutch companies, having a BSN number comes with numerous benefits including:

  • access to public health care,

  • the possibility of obtaining tax refunds,

  • the possibility of arranging pensions and social security,

  • protection against identity theft,

  • the ability to settle matters with local government administration and the Dutch tax office.

Obtaining a BSN number

Temporary workers who would like to have their BSN issued must be able to present a valid identity document (ID or passport), as well as a registered temporary or permanent address. The process of obtaining a BSN takes several days and most employers, including temporary employment agencies, offer their assistance in dealing with this matter. Some employment agencies charge a fee of up to €30 for such help, although obtaining a BSN number at the municipal office is free of charge.

Where to find your BSN?

The BSN number is included in basic documents of Dutch citizens, such as passports, IDs and driving licenses. It can also be found in all pay slips or tax assessment letters for any given work period, also in the case of non-Dutch nationals. It’s worth remembering that it’s also received in a declaration letter from the municipal office. This letter is usually needed to sign an employment contract in the Netherlands, so it’s important to keep it. This document also contains all personal data. If the original BSN document is lost, a copy can be obtained for a fee of around €20 at the nearest municipal office.

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