What is a BSN number (Sofi number)?
BSN number (Burgerservicenummer) is an individual tax and registry numerical sequence used in the Netherlands to identify a person to the tax administration and other administrative institutions.
Consisting of nine digits, this unique number replaced the so-called Sofi number ( Sociaal Fiscaal nummer) on January 1, 2007. Both numbers, whose Polish equivalent is NIP, have the same function – they enable the daily functioning of a person staying in the Netherlands with respect to formalities.
Who needs a BSN number?
Anyone who wants to work legally in the Netherlands needs a BSN number ( former Sofi number). It is also required if you are staying in the Netherlands for more than 4 months. One will need to have this identification number to be able to perform activities including:
- maintaining communications with public administration offices
- opening a bank account
- obtaining health insurance
- buying medicines at a pharmacy
- using social benefits
- enrolling children in school or nursery
- settling income tax.
How and where do I obtain a BSN (Sofi number)?
The process of applying for a BSN in the Netherlands is not complicated, and you can handle it on your own. Employment agencies, including those offering jobs to seasonal workers, also offer assistance in obtaining this identification number. The processing time depends on how long the worker intends to stay in the Netherlands.
Arranging for a BSN number in the Netherlands – for a stay shorter than 4 months
Those who intend to be staying in the Netherlands for a short time (up to four months), for example as seasonal workers, will receive a BSN number at a relevant public administration office on the spot. For this purpose, they must apply to one of the 19 municipality offices ( Gemeenten) – all contact details and the cities where such procedures are handled can be found on https://www.nederlandwereldwijd.nl/.
At the municipality office of your choice, you must register in the natural persons register as a non-resident (niet-ingezetene). After performing this step, you will receive their BSN number. Please remember that when applying for a BSN, you must have a valid identity document with you.
Importantly, you must make an appointment to visit the local municipality office. It can be done online (using an online form), by e-mail; or just by calling the chosen municipality office. Registering in the natural persons register (BRP) is free of charge.
Arranging for a BSN number in the Netherlands – for a stay longer than 4 months
Those who plan to stay in the Netherlands for a longer time will also need to register as a resident. A BSN number is then issued at the time of first registration. In this case, you should visit a municipal office (dealing with matters relevant to the locality where they intend to register). If this is your first registration as a resident in the Netherlands, you will automatically be entered in the natural persons register (BRP) and given a BSN number. The waiting time for the whole set of documents is then extended to several weeks.
Again, an appointment with an official dealing with the matter is made via the municipality office’s website or by phone. You must submit a valid identity document (i.e., an ID card or passport) and a document proving your right to reside at the Dutch address you stated in your application.
Can I arrange for a BSN number online?
No – it is not possible. Online, it is only possible to make an appointment with a municipal official.
A BSN number for a child
It is possible to arrange for a BSN number (formerly a Sofi number ) for a child. If the child was born in the Netherlands, a BSN is assigned to them immediately after birth. In the case of a child with a different nationality, it is necessary to furnish documents proving the child’s identity – i.e. birth certificate, identity cards or passports of the parents as well as the child – at the municipal office. Importantly, some of the institutions may require the physical presence of the child in the office when dealing with the formalities. The parent(s) will also receive a BSN for their child automatically when they apply to the SVB for a child benefit, so-called kinderbijslag.
Arranging for a BSN number for the worker’s partner
It often happens that a person working in the Netherlands has a partner staying in Poland at the same time. If a worker residing in the Netherlands applies for the toeslag allowance, their partner will also need a BSN number. How to go about it?
A BSN number for your partner can be obtained in two ways:
- You must apply to one of the municipal offices where a BSN number can be obtained for your partner as a non-resident.
- Both you and your partner must fill in and sign a relevant application Verzoek burgerservicenummer voor toeslagpartner buitenland. The application must be accompanied by a copy of a document that proves your continuing relationship, e.g. a marriage certificate, a partnership deed, or a formal cohabitation agreement. In addition, you must enclose a copy of your partner’s valid identity document (passport or identity card) and a valid (not older than 6 months) certificate of residence issued by the relevant municipal office. If both you and your partner live outside the Netherlands, the certificate must show that you live together at the same address. The application can be filled in on the computer, printed out, and sent together with the attachments to the address given on the document.
What should be kept in mind after obtaining a BSN number?
The document is completely free of charge, and a BSN number is issued for life. Re-obtaining a number that has already been assigned is significantly more difficult. It is advisable to ensure that the original document is kept in a safe place and that a photocopy is used for all official matters.
How do I check my BSN number (former Sofi nummer)?
You can do it online – provided that you have a valid DigiD, which is a digital ID that proves your identity to state administration institutions. How to go about it?
After logging on to the website https://www.svb.nl/nl/ you must select the option Raadplegen (Check), which contains your personal data, including your BSN number. If you do not have a DigiD, you should contact the SVB by phone or in person.
Employment agency assistance in obtaining a BSN number
Going to work in the Netherlands with an employment agency means help in arranging for a BSN number. The recruiter will ask if you have an ID number as early as at the stage of choosing the job offer. Importantly, without this document, your employer will not be able to draw up a contract for you.
What if you don’t have a BSN number? Don’t worry! All the necessary formalities are taken care of with the help of an employee of the agency’s local branch in Holland.
For those who don’t speak English or Dutch, such assistance from the agency can be indispensable.