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The Netherlands (Holland) - Banking
In recent years, the Netherlands has become a major financial and commercial centre and it is home to some of the biggest names in the banking world. The Dutch banking system has one of the highest indices of credit worldwide and the country’s banks have built a reputation for being extremely reliable.
Once you are settled in the Netherlands, it is high likely that you will want to open a Dutch bank account, especially if you intend to work in the country.
As in the majority of European countries, there is a range of banks to choose from in the Netherlands, including the central bank, as well as numerous commercial, mortgage, savings, and other accounts. The biggest and main banks are:
• ABN AMRO
Tel: 0900 - 81 70 or +31 10 - 241 17 23 from outside the Netherlands
Tel: + 31 (0) 30 216 0000
Tel: +31 20 5639111
• SNS Bank
Tel: 030 - 633 30 00
The majority of banks operate predominantly in Dutch, which can occasionally prove problematic for expats with a limited grasp of the language. ABN AMRO offers the most detailed information in English and also provides special expat packages. They have dedicated international clients services and branches in Amsterdam, Rotterdam, The Hague, and Eindhoven. SNS Reaal, which was nationalised in 2013, also offers products aimed specifically at English-speaking expats, as do a number of other financial institutions.
As a general rule, banks open between 9:00 – 18:00, Monday to Friday. Some banks open later on Mondays at 10:00 or 13:00. The majority of banks also open on Saturdays, from 10:00 to 13:00 or 14:00.
The major banks tend to offer a similar range of standard financial products, including current accounts (betaalrekening), savings accounts (spaarrakening), overdraft facilities, and bill payments. A number of banks also offer Foreign Currency Accounts (vreemde valuta rekening), which can be particularly useful for expats.
All of the main banks also offer internet and mobile banking facilities. In fact, internet banking is extremely popular in the Netherlands and a number of banks offer accounts that can only be accessed online. These types of accounts usually pay a relatively high rate of interest on credit balances, due to the lower bank overheads.
If you want to open a bank account, you will typically need to make an appointment in advance – this can either be done online or by visiting the bank itself.
When you’re considering opening an account in the Netherlands, you should always shop around for the best deals and the most suitable account for your needs. You should also ask people for their recommendations and advice.
In order to open the account, you will need to provide the following documentation:
• Your BSN number (Burgerservicenummer)
• A form of photo ID (usually a valid passport or ID card)
• Proof of address
• If you come from outside the EU, you will also need to present your Residency Permit and proof of registration with the IND (immigrate – en naturalisatiedienst)
If you are opening anything other than a savings account, you may also be asked to provide evidence of your income, such as an employment contract or a pay slip.
In addition to this, if you are opening a joint account, you will need to present the required documents for both parties named on the account. Those under 18 must be accompanied by at least one legal representative and must bring their own identification.
In most cases, the bank will also run a Bureau Kredietregistratie (BKR) credit check on you before they approve your application to open an account. This is done through the Central Credit Registration Office. Many expats won’t have a credit history in the Netherlands. If this is the case, the bank will register you on the BKR system.
Bank accounts are usually operational from the day they are opened. Once you have opened your bank account, you will be given a local debit card (Betaalpas or PIN pas), which can be used to withdraw cash from ATMs and also to pay retailers using chip and pin. You will usually have to collect the debit card in person from your local branch and present your passport or another approved from of ID.
Once you have collected your debit card, your PIN will be posted out to you separately.
MasterCard and Visa are the most commonly used credit cards in the Netherlands. Traditionally, credit cards haven’t been as commonly used in the Netherlands as they are in other parts of Europe. All major cards are now accepted, but not everywhere – hotels, restaurants, large department stores, and tourist areas shouldn’t be a problem, but some smaller retailers and even supermarkets still don’t accept them. This is because, whenever a payment is made by credit card, the retailer has to pay a percentage of each transaction to the credit card company.
To apply for a credit card, you will usually be expected to have held an open bank account in the country for a reasonable period of time, and also to be able to demonstrate that you have a sufficient income to handle the repayments. Credit cards usually come with an annual fee, a set rate of interest, and sometimes an additional monthly fee.
You should also note that the Dutch do not use standard cheques. If you deposit one into your account, you are likely to be charged around €15 - €20 in fees.
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