Practical Matters

In order to make sure your semester goes as smoothly as possible, there are several practical matters which should be taken care of before and after arrival. We are here to help you with each and every process. You can find a complete list of needed practical matters here.

Upon arriving in Amsterdam, you will need to register with a local general practitioner (huisarts in Dutch) so that you can see a doctor if needed. Your general practitioner will be your first point of contact for all medical problems except in the case of real emergencies. A member from the Gap Year Experience team will help you to register with a general practitioner upon arrival.  

Please be aware that the Netherlands may have different customs and rules regarding the prescription of medicine than you are used to. For this reason, it is important that you make plans in advance to get any needed prescriptions while you abroad.

You can make an appointment with a GP over the phone, and in some cases online or by email. You can also receive advice over the phone. In the case of serious problems, the doctor may be able to visit you at home (though this is not common practice).

Please make sure to bring any needed medical documents of your medical history with you so that you can share this with your new doctor. This enables the doctor to assess your medical history and will help you to accurately communicate about any medical conditions or problems you may have. Please always bring a valid photo ID and valid proof of insurance with you to your doctor appointments.  

Please consult this document to find a doctor near you.

It is important that you are properly insured during your time in the Netherlands. Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam requires all incoming international students to be properly insured by an internationally recognized insurance agency for the duration of their stay (this is also required by Dutch law). Your insurance policy should cover all costs related to sudden illness, accident, or death.

Insurance Packages:

To simplify the business of arranging suitable insurance during your time in the Netherlands, it is advisable to consult your insurance company and explain that you will be studying abroad for a semester or an entire academic year. If your insurance company is unable to meet your needs, then you may consult either of the following companies, each of which offers packages specifically tailored to the needs of international students.

Aon Student Insurance has developed a tailor made ICS Complete+ insurance for international students from VU Amsterdam. This insurance package insures you when you study abroad and covers health and non-medical costs worldwide. The package includes home contents, baggage, accidents, liability and legal costs. The complete insurance policy information and quote about this insurance can be found at: https://www.aonstudentinsurance.com/students/en. An agent of AON Student Insurances will be present during the arrival days

Health Insurance (ziektekostenverzekering): 

Everyone living in the Netherlands is legally obliged to have health insurance. For more information, please check the Nuffic website.

Liability Insurance (aansprakelijkheidsverzekering): 

 If you damage someone’s property or cause an accident, then Dutch law states that you are responsible for paying the costs of this. You are therefore advised to take out a liability insurance policy, especially if you will be working in a lab or doing research using expensive instruments.

Travel Insurance (reisverzekering):

When temporarily studying in another country, most students make use of the opportunity to travel and become acquainted with new cities and countries. It is important that you have a suitable travel insurance policy to cover the costs of stolen baggage, repatriation etc.


After acceptance to the programme, VU Amsterdam will apply for a visa and/or residence permit on your behalf. Depending on your nationality, you may need the following:

  • Residence permit (VVR) or
  • Entry visa (MVV) and residence permit (VVR)

Please check below to see what applies to you.

All citizens who stay in the Netherlands for more than 4 months must register with the municipality, regardless of nationality (this also applies to EU students). After registration, the municipality will send a social security number (BSN) to your Dutch address.  If you plan to work alongside your studies, you must have a BSN number.

You must also deregister before leaving the Netherlands.  The Gap Year Experience team and the Introduction Team will help you through this process upon arrival.

Required Documents

  • Passport or European ID card.
  • Rental agreement for your Dutch address (if you do not have a rental agreement then you must bring a written statement of approval signed by the main tenant and a copy of his/her passport).

We recommend that all students open a Dutch bank account.  Please be aware that it is unfortunately not possible to open a bank account at most banks when you are a minor and your parents/legal guardians are not with you.  You can find more information about how to open a bank account and how you can open a bank account if you are a minor here.

Amsterdam is one of the most bicycle friendly cities in the world. In fact, there are more bicycles than people! It should then come as no surprise that cycling is by far the most frequently used transportation method by the locals. With an extensive network of cycling lanes, bicycle parking and even traffic lights specifically for bicycles, there is no better place to cycle than in the Netherlands.

The BikeBoys provide students with high quality second-hand bikes for a good price.  The BikeBoys will even buy back your bike at the end of your semester!  For more information and ordering, please visit their website.

Alternatively, you may wish to make use of Swapfiets! The word fiets translates to bicycle in Dutch (a very important word in the Netherlands).

Swapfiets is named after the concept of bicycle swapping. How does it work?  You pay a monthly fee in exchange for a reliable bike and full support services. If your bike needs maintenance, gets stolen, or you have a flat tire, Swapfiets promises to replace your bike within 12 hours. They'll even come to you!  If they can't fix your bike within 15 minutes, then they'll swap it for a new one until your bike can be repaired.

Your safety is our top priority. Fortunately, Amsterdam is ranked Europe's safest city on the Economist Safe City Index. Of course, like any major city, you should be aware of pickpockets in busy areas. 

Read more about the safety measures at VU Amsterdam campus.

Useful Phone Numbers

Emergency (police, ambulance, fire): 112  

Alarm number VU Amsterdam, available 24/7: +31 20 59 83 255 

Police (theft and other queries): 0900-8844 or +31 343 57 8844 from abroad.

The IT Service Desk can help you with problems and questions about the use of IT services at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam.

Available by mail and phone on working days from 7.30 AM to 5.00 PM. 

E-mail: [email protected] 

Telephone: 020 59 80000

Counters IT Service Desk

In the Main Building (0A-11) and W&N Building (M-020) 

Opening hours: 9.00 AM - 5.00 PM

On VUnet, staff and students can find different manuals for the use of IT services at VU Amsterdam. You can log in to VUnet when you have a VUnetID.

For questions about IT services in your housing, please contact your housing provider.