When you arrive

Your first days and weeks in Amsterdam will be filled with new experiences, new people and a few practical considerations too. We have compiled the following information to help you:

  • Introduction activities: Activities during the introduction week.
  • Registering with the municipality: It is important that you register your address with the municipality. You will need to bring certain documents with you.
  • Opening a bank account: It is important that you open a Dutch bank account. Find out what you need to do and the documents you need here.
  • Insurance: You must be adequately insured during your stay in the Netherlands.
  • TB test: A tuberculosis (TB) test may be part of your application for a residence permit. If so, please visit the Municipality Health Services (GGD).
  • Cost of living and working while studying: Living in Amsterdam can be expensive. Make sure that you have sufficient financial means to cover the costs of living. If you are considering working while studying then there are certain rules to be followed.
  • Cycling and public transport: Amsterdam is a city of bikes. The city is also served by an excellent public transport network.


During your stay you will have access to VUnet, the internal network of VU Amsterdam. You will be sent login details during the process of preparing for your arrival. It is important that you familiarize yourself with VUnet, as a great deal of important information is only available via this network. Registration for courses etc is also carried out via VUnet.

When you arrive

During your first days at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, the International Office will arrange several activities in order to help you become acquainted with the city of Amsterdam and the university campus, to get to know your fellow (international) students and of course to have fun.

Arrival Days and Introduction Weeks, August 2016

Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam is looking forward to welcoming all new foreign students to the new academic year. During your first days the International Office will arrange several activities in order to help you become acquainted with the city of Amsterdam and the university campus, to get to know your fellow students and of course to have fun! Our introduction team is working hard to put together an engaging and informative programme especially for you! The introduction week will take place from the 19th to the 30th of August, please mark the following days in your agenda!

Here you'll find an overview of the introduction week events. Please do register for each event that you wish to partake in.

Arrival Days
The Arrival Days are part of the Introduction Week. During the Arrival Days you can arrange all practical matters regarding your registration at VU Amsterdam, meet your International Student Advisor or members of the incoming exchange team, register with the municipality, open a bank account and much more!

Check the Arrival Days step by step.

Word of Welcome
Wednesday 24 August

Time: 10:00-11:00

After the Arrival Days, you will be officially welcomed by Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam in the Aula, located on the first floor of the main building. You will receive a warm welcome by the president of VU Amsterdam, Jaap Winter and the director of the International Office, Frans Snijders. Afterwards, a presentation about the city of Amsterdam and  the Erasmus Student Network (ESN) will follow.

Information Fair (Info Markt)

Wednesday 24 August

Time: 11:30- 16:00

Student life is not just about studying. It’s also the ideal time to explore your own potential and to develop as a person. In the afternoon you can visit the information fair on the central square at the VU Campus, where you can get all kinds of interesting and useful information on every aspect of student life at and around the university. For example, what are your chances of studying abroad or finding a part-time job at the university? You can also talk to organizations, from political parties to employment agencies and non-profit organizations, and get to know various student associations.

Campus Tour

Wednesday 24 August

Time: 12:00 (after registration, one week before the event you will receive the exact time and location)

The International Office organizes a campus tour, to show you around VU Amsterdam. The tour will include different parts of the campus area such as the faculty buildings, the main library, the security office, the university restaurant and many other places.  Join the campus tour to find your way around VU Amsterdam!

Make it at the VU
Thursday 25 August

Time: 10:00-12:30

Studying at VU Amsterdam: many of you have been looking forward to this moment! Studying abroad will surely provide you with great opportunities. Besides academic knowledge it will teach you much more, as getting out of your comfort zone can certainly equip you for future challenges.  In today’s world it’s extremely important to be able to connect with people from different backgrounds, and to perform in a highly diverse environment.  The ‘Make it at the VU-day programme’ is designed to help you develop intercultural competences in order to communicate effectively in an academic environment, to benefit from cultural diversity and to prepare you for what studying abroad is all about. In addition, information will be given about career opportunities in the Netherlands after your studies.

Amsterdam City Tour Contest

Thursday 25 August 

Time: 13:30-onward

Explore the vibrant city of Amsterdam with your fellow international students and get the chance to win a prize! We will give you a map with Amsterdam hotspots for you to find the locations, take pictures and share it on Instagram. The person whose picture has the most likes  will be the winner.

VU Green Office Sustainability Event
Monday 29 August

Time: 10:00-12:30

Green Office VU is the central sustainability platform at the VU Amsterdam, where students, faculty and staff come together to implement joint initiatives, exchange ideas and create alliances. The Green Office’s activities and projects take a broad approach to sustainability. Green Office is led by students of the VU Amsterdam. These students each have their own portfolio and projects.

During this event, the Green Office team will  provide a short introduction of their activities. You will be introduced with the topic of sustainability and get numerous useful tips, for example on how to recycle and where. After a short lecture, you will be able to work on an artwork made out of used plastic bottles that will be featured in the main hall of the VU Campus.

Sports Day + Pub Quiz
Monday 29 August

During the Sports Day you will have the opportunity to take group lessons (such as aerobics and kickboxing), play football, basketball or volleyball with your fellow students, or simply enjoy working out in the fitness area. Make sure to bring your sports clothes and shoes!  Between 16:00-17:30hrs there is a break to get some food from the food truck on the terrace, to freshen up, or just to  relax after your hard work out. It’s also possible to shower at the sports centre after the programme. Finally, there will be a Pub Quiz at the Sports Canteen starting from 17:30-20:30hrs where you can win a special prize! Places for the pub quiz are limited so be sure to register quickly to get a spot. If you are not a sport person but you still want to be part of the pub quiz you are of course very welcome to participate. Would you like to mingle with Dutch students? No problem, they are also invited for an international/Dutch experience.

Full Day Programme
13:30-16:00 Sports Day
13:30-14:30 Aerobic/Bodyshape/Pilates
15:00-16:00 Kickboxing 
13:30-16:00 Football/Basketball/Volleyball & Fitness
16:00-17:30 Food/Drinks break
17:30-20:30 Pub Quiz

Dutch Crash Course
Tuesday 30 August

Time: 10:00-11:30

During the crash course you will learn:
• Meeting and greeting in Dutch:
• how to introduce yourself,
• how to say and spell your name and address,
• how to make an appointment about where and when to meet somebody,
• how to offer that person a drink, and
• how to order a drink.

The teachers will teach you how to say those elementary and essential phrases and you will have the opportunity to immediately practice these sentences with your neighbours in the classroom. So, after this crash course you will be able to have a basic but real conversation with your Dutch fellow students!

Campus Dinner Party
Tuesday 30 Augustus

Time: 17:00-20:00

This event will mark the end of the introduction week! You will celebrate together with Bachelor, Master, and ex international Exchange students, and with Dutch Bachelor and pre-master students. Several food trucks will be present offering different kinds of meals and a DJ will play to spice  up the evening. The dinner is offered by the International Office in order to thank you for studying at VU Amsterdam and to wish you the best during your academic career! If you register for this event, you will receive a ticket one week in advance  the event in order to show it at the entrance.
Please only register if you are sure you will attend the dinner.

Because we do need to have a fair idea about the number of participants, we expect you to register for the events, and obviously only if you can actually make it.

Do you have questions? Don’t hesitate to contact us: international@vu.nl

See you soon everyone!     


If you will stay in the Netherlands for more than four months, then you need to register with the local authorities, the municipality. After registration the municipality office will send a social security number (BSN) to your Dutch address.

Required documents

  • Passport or European ID card.
  • Rental agreement for your Dutch address (if you do not have a rental agreement then you must bring a written statement of approval signed by the main tenant and a copy of his/her passport).
  • Birth Certificate (legalized)* - please note that this is only required if you are staying for longer than one year in accommodation outside of Amsterdam or Amstelveen. If your birth certificate is not in Dutch, English, French or German, then you must supply a sworn translation into one of these languages.

Students who are married will also need to bring their marriage certificate (legalized)*.

* The legalization method depends on the respective country. The Dutch missions in other countries are responsible for legalizing foreign documents for use in the Netherlands. The documents must first have been legalized by the country’s own authorities, usually the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the country where the document was issued.

You will need to open a bank account in order to arrange your day-to-day finances in the Netherlands. Especially for Non-EU students and students who find a small job in the Netherlands it is recommended to open a bank account.

ABN Amro

You've made a great choice by deciding to study in the Netherlands. And while you're busy settling into your new course and new life, the last thing you'll want to worry about is your finances. That's why ABN AMRO Bank will be at the Introduction days on August 22nd & 23rd. The bank advisors will be able to answer any questions you might have and will even be able to provide you with a bank account and/or student insurance on the spot!

Ready to become a customer of ABN AMRO? Then please request the account application forms by sending an email at internationalstudents@nl.abnamro.com. This will certainly speed up the process and we will make sure that everything will be ready when we see you!

If you would rather arrange your new bank account when you arrive at the airport and skip the queues at the Introduction days, then please feel free to stop by the ABN AMRO office at Schiphol Plaza. The bank advisors will be able to assist you 7 days a week from 07:00 until 22:00. Should you wish to arrange this at the airport, please make sure to send an e-mail to the address mentioned above.

It is important that you are properly insured during your time in the Netherlands. Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam requires all incoming international students to be properly insured by an internationally recognized insurance agency for the duration of their stay (this is also required by Dutch law). Your insurance policy should cover all costs related to sudden illness, accident or death.

Health insurance (ziektekostenverzekering)
Everyone living in the Netherlands is legally obliged to have health insurance. The rules are quite complex for international students. Extensive information on this subject can be found on the Nuffic website. We recommend AON Students Insurance company, an agent will be present during the arrival days, since they offer a day to day rate. However, you are free to choose your own insurance company.

EU health insurance card (EHIC) schemes differ from country to country and might not always live up to expectations. Therefore we strongly advise you to top up your coverage by taking out an additional student insurance policy to cover for travel, repatriation and liability.

Liability insurance (aansprakelijkheidsverzekering)
If you damage someone’s property or cause an accident, then Dutch law states that you are responsible for paying the costs of this. You are therefore advised to take out a liability insurance policy, especially if you will be working in a lab or doing research using expensive instruments.

Travel insurance (reisverzekering)
When temporarily studying in another country, most students make use of the opportunity to travel and become acquainted with new cities and countries. It is important that you have a suitable travel insurance policy to cover the costs of stolen baggage, repatriation etc.

Insurance packages
To simplify the business of arranging suitable insurance during your time in the Netherlands, it is advisable to consult your insurance company and explain that you will be studying abroad for a semester or an entire academic year. If your insurance company is unable to meet your needs, then you may consult either of the following companies, each of which offers packages specifically tailored to the needs of international students.

Experience shows that living and studying in the Netherlands for one year costs a student between €1000 and €1,100 per month. Some students manage to spend less, but this of course depends on your own lifestyle. An indication of likely monthly expenses:

  • Rent for housing: €450
  • Food: €250
  • Insurance: €100
  • Public transport: €50
  • Books: €50
  • Other costs: €60
  • Total: €960

Working while studying

You cannot count on finding a source of additional income after you arrive and, unless you are from an EU member state, your opportunities to work are restricted. If you are a non-EU student, under Dutch law you are only permitted to work a maximum of 10 hours per week if you have a work permit.

How many hours am I allowed to work in the Netherlands?
If you hold a passport from a country that belongs to the European Union (EU) (with the exception of Croatia), the European Economic Area (EEA) or Switzerland, then you are permitted to work in the Netherlands without limitation. If this is not the case, then you are only permitted to work a maximum of 10 hours per week averaged over the year or full-time during the summer months (June, July, August). Your employer will also be required to apply for a work permit.

Do I have to pay income tax if I work in the Netherlands?
Under Dutch law, everyone who works in the Netherlands is obliged to pay income tax to the Dutch government. However, the rules may be different if you are already paying income tax in your home country and that country has signed a treaty with the Netherlands that income tax is only to be paid in one of the two countries. All EU member states have signed such a treaty.

What does the Dutch government do for international students working in the Netherlands?
The Dutch government has a comprehensive system of social security, insurance and tax measures related to working in the Netherlands.

More information can be found on the Nuffic website Working while studying. There is also a factsheet on international students and part-time jobs (pdf).

Amsterdam is a city of bicycles. With an extensive network of cycle lanes, bicycle parking everywhere and even traffic lights specifically for bicycles, there is no safer or easier place to cycle than here. There is a bike shop in the basement of the main building of the university. Bike sales for exchange students will also be arranged several times throughout the year. Most students arriving for the first time in Amsterdam find that buying a (second-hand) bike is both an affordable way to travel between home and study, as well as a great way of getting to know the city and the surrounding area.

Public transport
The city of Amsterdam has an extensive public transport network consisting of trams, metro services, buses, ferries and trains. Extensive maps and timetables of all routes can be found on the GVB (municipal transport company) website.

Public transport smart card (OV-chipkaart)
The most convenient (and affordable) method of paying for public transport is the OV-chipkaart. You can buy an anonymous (refillable) card at ticket vending machines, GVB Tickets & Info locations, certain newsagents and supermarkets. More information is available on the GVB website.
Check in, check out
It is very important that your remember to check both in and out when using your OV-chipkaart. This can be done by holding the card against the reader present on platforms (for trains and metro) and on board the vehicle (for buses and trams). You must also check in and out when changing to a different line or mode of transport.

If you have a smartphone, the app 9292 (available in English) is a convenient way of planning your journey.