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Life as a student in Amsterdam

At the start of your studies at the Conservatorium van Amsterdam it is also useful to consider certain practical matters that are not directly study related, such as topics that have to with money, health and safety. Which authorities can you go to when you are dealing with a personal matter? Who can you turn to at the CvA when problems arise that may affect your studies?

Additionally, international students also have to take into account which steps to take when you have found housing. You have to register with your local municipality, apply for your DigiD, perhaps open up a Dutch bank account and figure out which insurances you need.

All these matters will be discussed on this page.

Upon arrival in the Netherlands


Register with your local municipality
If you stay in the Netherlands for more than 4 months, you must visit your local municipality and register as a resident in the Basic Registration of Persons (BRP) database. In order to register you have to make an appointment with the municipality.

After your registration you will receive a citizen service number, which is called Burgerservicenummer (BSN), on the spot. You need a BSN to open a Dutch bank account, to take out Dutch health insurance, to apply for benefits or to get a job or internship in the Netherlands. Read more about the BSN on the website of the Government of the Netherlands

At the start of the academic year (and sometimes halfway through the academic year) the municipality of Amsterdam often organises registration days for international students. During these registration days, you can register without making an appointment. More information about registering at the municipality of Amsterdam can be found here

Get your DigiD
After you have received your BSN, you can apply for a DigiD. With this ID, you can arrange government-related matters online. With a DigiD, you can log in to government websites such as DUO (student finance), the Tax Office (taxes) or municipal services. Read more about DigiD for expats in the Netherlands.

Opening a Dutch bank account
If you are staying in the Netherlands for a long period of time, it is advisable to open a Dutch bank account. Most people use a Maestro debit card. Many supermarkets do not accept credit cards and some shops do not even accept cash. You must have a Dutch bank account if you are working or doing an internship. Read more about banking for expats in the Netherlands.

Check the coverage of your health insurance
Health insurance is compulsory for all residents of the Netherlands. Whether you need a Dutch health insurance as an international student, depends entirely on your current situation. If you are just here to study, then legally you are not allowed to have a Dutch health insurance. If this is the case, please make sure that your current health insurance company covers your insurance costs while studying in the Netherlands. Things change however when you have an internship or a part-time job. Chances are you probably do need to have a Dutch health insurance.  

Read more about health insurance for international students in the Netherlands on I Am Expat  and on Study in NL.

Insure your belongings
There are various things you can get insurance for. Personal liability, repatriation and travel insurance, for example, are common in the Netherlands. Another important one is contents insurance. This insurance covers the contents of your student room against damage from fire, water damage or burglary. Many insurance companies offer student discounts or competitively priced insurance packages. It may look expensive, but it is really worth to be well insured. Read more about insurance for expats in the Netherlands.

    Money matters

    When you start a new study it also affects your finances. You have to take into account rent, insurances, daily expenses and leisure activities. As an international student you also might have to consider exchange rates. 

    The overview below gives you some tips and information about finances in the Netherlands.

    Medical care in the Netherlands

    Everyone that lives or works in the Netherlands is obliged to take out a basic health insurance. Each year the government decides what the package of the basic health insurance covers. More information about the basic package can be found on (in Dutch). 

    The health insurance is paid monthly. In addition, you also have to pay a mandatory excess “eigen risico” each calendar year. This is the amount you have to pay for health care costs that are part of the basic package. Once you have paid this amount, health care costs can be reimbursed by the health insurer. More information about health insurance and mandatory excess is available on Zorgverzekeringslijn (in Dutch.)

    Please note: different rules could apply to international students when it comes to the Dutch health insurance. Read more about this topic on Study in NL and Zorgverzekeringslijn.

    Health and Safety CvA

    Working as a performing musician places physical and mental demands on you, in addition to artistic ones, that should not be underestimated. For a good completion of your training and further career, it is therefore important that you adopt a responsible way of working. To that effect, the Conservatorium van Amsterdam has developed a healthcare programme especially for music students. It lists several healthcare specialists and treatment options, with the emphasis on preventative care. Below you can find an overview of this programme. 

    Language skills for international students

    Lessons at the Conservatorium van Amsterdam are taught in Dutch or English. Therefore, every student at the CvA must have both a passive and active command of Dutch or English.

    Almost everyone in the Netherlands speaks English. You will find that the Dutch are very considerate towards non-Dutch speakers and will quickly switch to English to make things easier for them. But it can still be useful to learn a bit of Dutch. Knowing the language will help you understand Dutch culture and society better.

    English language course 

    At the start of the academic year an English language course is taught at the Conservatorium van Amsterdam for students who want to improve their English language skills. The course is offered in cooperation with De Taalkamer.

    The Student Information Point of the CvA can give you more information about this. The STIP is open from Monday to Thursday with the exception of school holidays. Email:

    Volksuniversiteit Amsterdam

    You can also go to the website of Volksuniversiteit Amsterdam. Here you can find language courses at different levels and for many languages. 


    Map of religious gatherings in Amsterdam

    Many religions are represented in Amsterdam. The most represented religions in Amsterdam are listed below. Click on the map below to go to the interactive map where you can find addresses for religious gatherings in Amsterdam.

    Evangelical or Pentecostal church
    Roman Catholic Church
    Protestant Church Netherlands (PKN)
    Reformed Church
    Christian church (other)
    Moroccan mosque
    Turkish Mosque
    Surinamese/Pakistani mosque
    Jewish synagogue
    Hindu temple
    Buddhist temple
    Sikh temple