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BSN, the Citizen Service Number, the Netherlands

Uh oh, now you have a number defining your life in the Netherlands. Can everyone find you now? Do you need to know this number by heart? Is this how you have to pick up the phone?!

No worries; it is only a number.

In this blog we‘ll tell you a little bit more about what the Burger Service Number (BSN) is and stuff about the rules and obligations that apply to the BSN

What is a Burger Service Number?

The BSN has different names, for example, the Social Security number, Citizen Service Number, and Social Fiscal Number. In this blog we call it the BSN because it’s the most commonly used name in the Netherlands.


The BSN is a unique personal number. All Dutch citizens get a Burger Service Number at birth. Anyone coming to work in the Netherlands needs to apply for one. Everyone has to have one.


This unique number is a nine-digit number, and every person is only ever assigned one. In other words, it’s yours for life.


The government introduced the BSN system to manage all communications between citizens and the government. It’s the key to all your public interactions. You need it to be able to open a bank account and to buy health insurance.

How do you as a foreign citizen get a BSN?

If you will be staying for less than four months, you can register yourself as a non-resident in the BRP, the basic registration system for individuals.


If you will be staying for longer than four months to work in the Netherlands as a knowledge migrant, you will receive your BSN when you register with the municipality where you are going to live. (We do that together with our clients. See below.)


“The Dutch rules, legislation, language, and all that stuff are difficult to understand. When I got to the Netherlands, I needed to cope with so many things like starting a new job, getting settled somewhere, finding my way around, making new friends. On top of all that, there was some administrative hassle that needed to be handled. Payingit International accompanied me to get my BSN, which was a big relief. One big thing done!”

Who needs to know your BSN?

First of all, the most important person who needs to know your BSN is your employer. Your employer needs it to submit your personal tax information to the tax authority. Your Burger Service Number will also be mentioned on your payslip.


You will be asked for it when you file tax returns, sign up with a doctor’s office in your area, get a driver’s license, and lots of other occasions. It’s handy.

Everybody knows the Monopoly game and with that great game we visualize the possibilities with your BSN (click to enlarge image).

How can Payingit International assist you with the BSN?

Payingit International understands that the complete journey from your origin country with all your family and friends to the Netherlands—a country in which you don’t know anyone or anything about the rules and regulations—is really complex and can seem overwhelming. That’s why we offer assistance to get you settled here. If your employer/hirer uses our Payroll Umbrella Services, it is also in our interest that you get your Burger Service Number as soon as possible, since we are your employer of record.


We help our clients with the practical things: we make your appointment to get your BSN, arrange all the necessary documents, and go with you to the appointment. This is how we make sure you can focus on the more important issues like getting here, getting settled, and starting your new job.


If you have any questions about the BSN or would like to know how we can help, please do not hesitate to contact us at +31 202 252 520 or info@payingit-international.com.

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Karin Otten Consultant International