Life as a student in Amsterdam

As an international student at the Academy of Architecture Amsterdam, you will have to arrange a number of things upon your arrival. On this page you will find everything that is involved in living in the Netherlands.

After you arrived in the Netherlands, settled in your new house and explored your new city a bit, there are a couple of practical actions to take:

Good to know

Once you have taken care of the above, there are still some things that are important to consider, such as:

Upon arrival in the Netherlands


Register with your local municipality – BSN

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. This will give you your Burgerservicenummer (BSN). You need a BSN to open a bank account, to take out health insurance or to get a job or internship in the Netherlands. Read more about the BSN at

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 grant), the Tax Office (taxes) or municipal services. Read more about DigiD for expats in the Netherlands here.

Opening a bank account

If you are staying in the Netherlands for a longer period of time, it is advisable to open a 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 bank account if you are working or doing an internship. Read more about banking for expats in the Netherlands.

Apply for health insurance

Dutch health insurance is compulsory for all residents of the Netherlands. Students often stay temporarily, so they may not be obliged to take out insurance. Things change if you do an internship or have a part-time job. Read more about this on: health insurance for international students in the Netherlands.

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.

Additional financial matters:

Money matters

Cash is used less and less in the Netherlands these days. However, it is still handy to have a few loose euros or some bank notes in your pocket. But what is the current exchange rate and where is the best place to exchange it when you stay in the Netherlands for a longer period of time? And what else do you need to do in order to be able to arrange your financial affairs in the Netherlands? Here we will help you on your way.

Payments in euros

The euro (symbol: ; Dutch plural: euro) is the currency of the Netherlands as one of the 19 Member States of the European Economic and Monetary Union. The official ISO code for the currency is EUR.

Current exchange rates

On you will find the most up-to-date exchange rates for the euro and other currencies. 

Discount cards for students

By showing your student card, students receive discounts at many cultural institutions, on computer software and at gyms. The AHK has special agreements with a number of companies and institutions in the fields of sports and software & hardware, among other things.

CJP Cultuurkaart

The CJP Cultuurkaart is not specifically for students, but for all young people under 30 years old, and gives discounts on (film) festivals, concerts, theatres and museums, among other things. The card costs €17.50 per year.

Fancy even bigger discounts? Then take a look at this small selection of websites:

Financial difficulties

If you experience financial problems during your studies, please contact the CvA Student Counsellor, Heleen de Kam, by email:

Together with you, the student counsellor will look for possible solutions, that will enable you to continue your studies as well as you can or guide you in deciding to defer or discontinue your studies for the time being. Discussions with the student counsellor are confidential and personal information is handled with great care. In general, the sooner you contact the student counsellor, the better advice you can expect to receive.


The National Institute for Budget Information (Nibud) is an independent organisation that informs and advises on financial matters. What does it cost to study? How much borrowing is sensible? Should I live in rooms or at home? Nibud outlines what studying involves.

Health and Safety

Medical care

Students in need of medical assistance, should contact their general practitioner (GP) by phone. If you do not have a GP, you should register with one as soon as possible. If you are at a loss, you can contact our student counsellor, Heleen de Kam, in case of emergency, at

Essential information regarding medical care in the Netherlands

Health insurance

Every resident of the Netherlands is obliged to take out a basic health insurance with a health insurance company. The health insurance is paid monthly, even if you have not incurred any medical expenses.

Own risk

The deductible is the amount, on top of your monthly health insurance, that you have to pay yourself for e.g. medication. You can usually determine the amount of the deductible yourself, but there is a legally determined minimum amount. If you exceed the amount of your deductible, the health insurance company pays the rest of the eligible medical expenses.

Right to medically necessary care

According to the law, all inhabitants of the Netherlands are entitled to essential medical care. Residents without valid residence papers or health insurance and residents who cannot pay for the care are also entitled to this. Care providers have a duty of confidentiality, they are not allowed to provide the police and the Immigration and Naturalisation Service (IND) with any information about you.

Emergency care applies only in cases of serious accidents or life-threatening situations. Every hospital has an emergency department that is accessible 24 hours a day and where you can be helped. You do not need a referral to go to the emergency room. If an ambulance is needed, you can call the (free) number 112.

  • Emergency number, T: 112 – only in a life-threatening situation
  • Suicide prevention, T: 0900-0113 – help in all forms with thoughts of suicide, also for relatives: calling, chatting, therapy, coaching, training, courses. The website has a chat button – you can chat directly.
  • Police, T: 0900-8844 – for non-urgent matters.
    On the website of the police you can file an online report.
  • GP Posts, T: 088 00 30 600 – If you need a GP in a hurry. In the evening, at night or during the weekend in Amsterdam, Badhoevedorp, Landsmeer, Diemen and Duivendrecht.
  • The Listening Line, T: 0900-0767 – if you want to talk to someone (anonymously).
  • Emergency dental care (24/7):
    OLVG Locatie Oost Oosterpark 9, 0900-8602
    Deltal 365, Piet Heinkade 215, 1019 HM A’dam 02 –2442572
  • Emergency psychiatry in Amsterdam 020–5235433 – emergency care for people with (very) severe acute psychological problems, whether or not in combination with addiction.
  • Centre for Sexual Violence 0800-0188 – National specialised centre for victims of acute violence, sexual assault, rape: forensic, medical and psychological assistance. There are doctors, nurses, police and other social workers. The centre is a cooperation between hospitals, GGD, GGZ, police and Slachtofferhulp Nederland. Working method based on scientific research. On the website is a chat button – you can chat directly.
  • Victim support: 0900-0101 – Help to victims and next of kin after a crime, traffic accident or other serious event: emotional support, guidance during the criminal process and help with compensation. The assistance is free of charge.


Current list of hospitals in Amsterdam with their contact details.

You can only visit the hospital with a referral letter from your general practitioner. In every region there is at least one hospital where residents without a valid residence permit can go. In Amsterdam these are the AMC and the VUmc.


Do you need to go to a hospital or clinic for treatment? There is a difference between private clinics and hospitals. You can choose where to have your treatment, but always check with your health insurer.

Difference between private clinic and hospital

Private clinics do not provide emergency care, therefore waiting times are usually shorter than in a hospital. Private clinics do not have the same facilities as a hospital such as an intensive care unit.

Health insurance reimbursement

Your health insurance company will reimburse if:

  • The treatment is medically necessary
  • You have a referral from your general practitioner

General practitioner (GP)

If you are ill, you should first contact your family doctor. It is useful to find a family doctor in your area and to always see the same doctor, so that your health history is always known. The GP will refer you to a specialist if necessary. Without a referral, you cannot be helped by a specialist (in a hospital, for example).

Here you will find all the general practitioners of Amsterdam. On this site you can also search by postcode to find the nearest pharmacy.

Amsterdam general practitioners’ outposts: for emergency doctors

Do you urgently need a GP in the evening, at night or at the weekend?

  • T: 088 00 30 600
    Dat is het nummer van de huisartsenpost in Amsterdam, Badhoevedorp, Landsmeer, Diemen en Duivendrecht. See for addresses and opening hours.


The costs for the dentist and other oral care, for instance provided by oral hygienists, do not fall under the basic insurance for adults from the age of 18. Sometimes, however, it is possible to obtain a reimbursement from the basic insurance. This concerns, for instance, reimbursement of dentures or a visit to the oral surgeon. To make an appointment with the dentist, you do not need a referral from your GP.

Here you can find all dentists in Amsterdam. On this site you can also search by postcode to find the nearest pharmacy.

Emergency dental care (24/7)

Medicines can only be obtained in a pharmacy with a prescription from your general practitioner. In every municipality there is at least one pharmacy where patients without a residence permit can go. In Amsterdam, these include pharmacy Ganzenhoef, pharmacy Caleidoscoop and BENU pharmacy Haveneiland. You do not need a prescription for regular medicines, such as paracetamol. You can usually buy these at a drugstore as well.

Here you can find all the pharmacies in Amsterdam. On this site you can also search by postcode to find the pharmacy closest to you.

Life-threatening situation?

  • Call 112

Amsterdam general practitioners’ outposts: for emergency doctors

Do you urgently need a GP in the evening, at night or at the weekend?

  • T: 088 00 30 600 – This is the number of the post office for GPs in Amsterdam, Badhoevedorp, Landsmeer, Diemen and Duivendrecht. See for addresses and opening hours.

In urgent need of medication?

  • Sometimes there is a service pharmacy at a GP surgery, but not always, and under certain conditions medicines can be delivered to your home. Information for Amsterdam and the surrounding area:

To the GP’s surgery or the hospital emergency room?

  • General practitioner’s clinic: health problems for which you would call your GP during the day
  • Emergency First Aid in hospital: serious situations, when a medical specialist is needed.

Are you still in doubt?

  • First call the general practitioners service 088 00 30 600

What are the costs?

As of 1 January 2021, the following rates apply at Huisartsenposten Amsterdam, determined by the Nederlandse Zorgautoriteit (Dutch Health Authority) (NZa).

  • Consultation: € 164,07
  • Visiting € 246,10
  • Triage consult € 35,00

In doubt as to whether you need a doctor?

Need reliable information on medical issues that you want to look up yourself?

Emergency room (SEH): for emergencies, Amsterdam Hospital

Locations, see this google map

Amsterdam UMC locatie Meibergdreef
Meibergdreef 9
1105 AZ Amsterdam Zuidoost
020 566 2222

Amsterdam UMC locatie VUmc
Amstelveenseweg 587
1081 HV Amsterdam
020-444 3636

BovenIJ Ziekenhuis
Statenjachtstraat 1
1034 CS Amsterdam
020-634 6200

OLVG Locatie West
Jan Tooropstraat 164
1061 AE Amsterdam
020-510 8911

OLVG locatie Oost
Oosterpark 9
020-599 9111

Support during your study

It is important that you, as a student, can study safely and healthily. And that you know who you can turn to if you need support in order to be able to do your study successfully. You can turn to the following people at the AHK: 

Student counsellor 
The student counsellor provides information and guidance to students with both practical and personal matters, which are related to the study conditions and life as a student. Each academy/study programme has its own student counsellor.  

Student coach 
You can turn to the student coach of the AHK for an introductory training session on planning and time management, a study-related stress/fear of failure training course and individual coaching. 

Confidential adviser 
The AHK has several confidential advisers. You can turn to a confidential adviser if you encounter (or have encountered) unsafe situations or undesirable behaviour.  

Liasison officer
You can talk to the liaison officers of the AHK if you have or have had to deal with domestic violence or child abuse in your private life.

If you have difficulty reading, writing or concentrating, you can make use of the online program TextAid

In addition, every academy/study programme has its own facilities. For more information, please look on the website of your own academy or ask your student counsellor.  

Codes of conduct and reporting codes 
The AHK wants you to study study in a socially safe environment. In order to guarantee this, we apply various codes of conduct and reporting codes:    
Code of Conduct for Public Safety (pdf)
Complaints procedure regarding undesirable behaviour (pdf)
Domestic Violence and Child Abuse Reporting Code (pdf)

Confidential Advisor AHK

It is of the utmost importance that everyone at the Conservatorium van Amsterdam can study and work in a pleasant environment. Safety, mutual empathy and respect are conditions for a good working environment and a successful study period. To counter any undesirable sexual intimidation and/or aggression, the AHK offers support by means of a code of conduct, confidential advisers and a complaints procedure. Read more here.

The AHK’s Code of Conduct.

Study and disability

If you need certain facilities or adaptations to access and participate in education and/or taking exams as a result of a (learning) disability (for example dyslexia), you can contact the student counsellor of the Conservatorium van Amsterdam. She can refer you to the contact person of your study programme with whom you can discuss which facilities or adjustments you need to be able to progress with your studies. The discussions are confidential. The student counsellor can also refer you to organisations outside the conservatoire. Read more here.


Students in need of medical assistance (corona-related or otherwise), should contact their general practitioner (GP) by phone. If you do not have a GP, please register with one as soon as possible.

If you find yourself at a complete loss, you can contact our student counsellor, Heleen de Kam, at, in case of an emergency.

Read more about corona here.

GGD – The Municipal Health Service

The GGD is the executive branch of the municipality in the field of public health. The Amsterdam Public Health Service protects, monitors and promotes the health of Amsterdam residents. This is also called public health care.

You can contact the GGD for, among other things:

Health insurance – click here

Narcotics: legislation & Academy rules 

What should students know about use of alcohol and other drugs? What do these substances do to you? What is the effect of their use on your memory and study performance? How can you get through your student days without a hangover? Where can you get your drugs tested? And if you are worried about someone who drinks too much or abuses drugs, where can you turn to?

The answers to these and other questions can be found here.

If you need help

Your student life is a period full of new experiences: a new city, education, house and responsibilities. For many students, this also includes get-togethers, club nights and parties. Sometimes it can be a challenge to find the right balance.

Going to college with a hangover or calling in sick because of a Tuesday slump is not of immediate concern. However, what if it happens often enough to worry you and/or starts to affect your study results? Or if it makes you feel down, anxious or stressed for a prolonged period of time? It is possible that your substance use (or gaming or gambling) has got out of control. Read here what you can do.

Language skills for international students

De masteropleiding is tweetalig. Je beheerst het Engels op havo/vwo-niveau, of op een gelijk niveau volgens TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) of IELTS (International English Language Testing System).


Map of religious gatherings in Amsterdam

Many religions are represented in Amsterdam. The most important ones 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