How to Open a Dutch Bank Account as an International Student

Opening a Dutch bank account as a non-resident. Here is a guide to the top 5 banks in the Netherlands for international students.

As 2021 brings hope of life without coronavirus and restrictions, the future looks bright for students wanting to study abroad. With a vaccine for everyone on the horizon, now is the time to consider where in the world to travel to once this global pandemic is over. International universities in the Netherlands offering courses through English may look quite appealing right now.

If you are an international student who intends to study in the Netherlands, having a bank account to access and manage your cash will be essential. Maybe the bank account from your home country just won’t suffice. Organising a Dutch bank account in advance of your arrival in the Netherlands will be a huge weight off your mind.

For a long time, a BSN (the Dutch social security number) was absolutely essential when trying to open a bank account in the Netherlands. Now, it is possible to open a Dutch bank account as a non-resident and/or without a BSN. Here is a quick overview of the main banks in the Netherlands, what they can offer international students and the pros and cons of each bank:

Top Dutch Banks for International Students

As of 2016, there are 50 banks in the Netherlands. So, needless to say, we won’t be addressing them all here today. Instead, we will take the top five banks in the Netherlands for international students. To choose those five, the major Dutch banks were contacted to find out how they deal with international clients.

The top 5 Dutch banks being looked at are:

ABN-AMRO

Perhaps one of the biggest banks in the Netherlands, ABN-AMRO has been around since the early 1700’s. It is possible to open a bank account with ABN AMRO in the Netherlands even if you live abroad. The first step is to contact their International Clients Department. What documents are required and the criteria that must be met is assessed on a case-by-case basis. Many factors will affect the outcome, including local laws and regulations in your home country and an explanation on the purpose of the bank account. A decision is then made regarding whether to allow you to open the account.

The International Clients Division caters mainly to “expats”. According to ABN-AMRO:

“You are considered an expat if you are a skilled migrant living in the Netherlands for at least 3 months. Your net monthly wage is at least €2,300 (for those under 30 years of age) or at least €2,900 (if you are over 30 years old).”

International Students:

  • Students aged 18-30 years qualify
  • Proof of enrolment needed to open account
  • Passport or ID card required
  • More information here

Pros:

  • Free / No monthly fees
  • BSN only required after 6 months
  • High age cut-off
  • Offers support in 15 languages
  • No Dutch living address required
  • Immediate account activation

Cons:

  • Minimum 6 month stay prior to application
  • Doesn’t apply to part-time students

Rabobank

Cooperative Rabobank UA is a long-standing behemoth in Dutch banking. Going since 1898, this bank has branched out to have a global presence and a broad product offering. Rabobank claims:

“We are an online bank, so we do business online, over the phone and by mail.”

However, it still operates like any traditional bank as opposed to a true online bank. This is made clear by the fact that in order to open a bank account in the Netherlands, you must present yourself in person at a Rabobank office to prove your identity.

International Students:

  • Students aged 16-25 years qualify
  • Proof of enrolment needed to open account
  • Student package opened at branch on appointment (Call 0031 88 722 66 00)
  • Account activation after 3-5 working days
  • More information here

Pros:

  • Students under 18 can apply
  • Free / No monthly fees
  • No Dutch living address required

Cons:

  • BSN required
  • Minimum 6 month stay prior to application
  • Doesn’t apply to part-time students
  • Wait before account activation
  • Must apply in person

N26

N26 is a fully online bank offering a 100 percent digital banking experience via its mobile app. Started in Europe in 2013, N26 now operates in 25 markets and has over 7 million customers worldwide. Claiming “no paperwork, no hidden fees and full transparency”, N26 makes dealing with the bank respectively simply by offering full control via the mobile app. With live chat and applications for products such as overdrafts conducted within the app, this fully mobile international bank is incredibly easy to use.

International Students:

  • Students aged 18 years or over qualify
  • Student package opened via app and website
  • For both full-time and part-time students
  • Account activation after 5 working days
  • More information here

Pros:

  • Free / No monthly fees
  • No BSN required
  • No minimum stay prior to application
  • No Dutch living address required
  • Multilingual support

Cons:

  • Wait before account activation

ING

In case there was any doubt that ING Bank was a Dutch bank, one look at their orange lion logo removes it. While their branding is as quintessentially Dutch as you can get, ING is also one of the biggest banks in the world. ING, short for Internationale Nederlanden Groep, seems to offer and promote a Non-Residents Department. However, in order to open an account you must visit an ING office in the Netherlands in person. As with Rabobank, this is less than ideal for the global citizen who needs a Dutch IBAN but will not be travelling to the Netherlands.

International Students:

  • Students aged 16-29 years qualify
  • Student package opened at branch on appointment via website
  • Proof of enrolment needed to open account
  • More information here

Pros:

  • Free / No monthly fees
  • No BSN required
  • No prior minimum stay required
  • Students under 18 can apply
  • High age cut-off
  • No Dutch living address required
  • Immediate account activation

Cons:

  • Doesn’t apply to part-time students
  • Must apply in person

bunq

In the greater scheme of banking, bunq is the new kid on the block. But don’t let that be off-putting. As fully international bank, their focus is on the global citizen. Via their mobile app, this online bank has perhaps the easiest registration process of the lot (with all of the usual reassuring security features including video call verification). Incredibly easy and user-friendly to set up, the bunq mobile app feels more like a fun game with its bright colours and achievement badges.

International Students:

  • Online setup
  • Students aged 18 years or over qualify
  • Student package opened via app and website
  • Can open up to 25 separate IBAN numbered accounts via the app
  • Fully insured under the Dutch Central Bank
  • For both full-time and part-time students
  • More information here

Pros:

  • No proof of enrolment needed to open account
  • No minimum stay prior to application
  • BSN only required after 3 months
  • Immediate account activation
  • Multilingual support
  • No foreign exchange fees
  • Free global ATM withdrawals
  • 3 cards with subscription, including a bunq Travel Card

Cons:

  • Must be over 18 to apply
  • An address within the EEA is required
  • Monthly fee: €7.99

There are pros and cons to all of the above banks. The right bank for you will greatly depend on your on situation and own specific needs. Only you can decide what features are important and whether you are willing to pay for them. But rest assured, no matter which Dutch bank account you choose, as an international student in the Netherlands you will come away with a great education and an even better experience.

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