Best Banks in The Netherlands: How to open an account 2024

Thijs de Vries

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The Dutch Banks, lauded for its robustness and comprehensive services, is no exception when it comes to accommodating its vast expatriate community. However, the sheer variety of banking options, combined with potential language barriers, can make this task feel more daunting than it should be. This article aims to serve as a guiding light, providing clarity amidst the multitude of banking choices available.

Whether you’re an expat on a new job assignment, a student eager to explore Dutch academia, or a long-term tourist looking to make the Netherlands your temporary home, having a bank that aligns with your needs is essential. You want more than just a place to store your money; you seek a financial institution that simplifies your daily life in a foreign land.

Key Takeaways:

  • The Netherlands offers diverse banking options tailored for foreigners.
  • Understanding Dutch banking norms enhances integration and ease of transactions.
  • Selecting the right bank involves evaluating fees, services, accessibility, and language support.
  • Both traditional and online-only banks provide secure, efficient services for expats.
  • Proper documentation, including BSN, is vital for opening a bank account smoothly.
  • A myriad of resources, both online and offline, support foreigners in their Dutch banking journey.

The Top Banks for Foreigners in the Netherlands

Each bank carries its distinct flavor, catering to different tastes and requirements. To simplify your exploration, we’ve curated a comparison of the top banks frequently favored by the international community. Let’s dive into their offerings, strengths, and areas of consideration.


💡 Tip: ABN AMRO’s website is fully available in English.

ABN AMRO Bank in The Netherlands

Founded in 1824, ABN AMRO stands tall as one of the Netherlands’ leading banks with a strong international orientation.

Catering to a vast expat clientele, the bank provides an English version of its website, mobile application, and most of its services.

Pros for foreigners:

  • Specialized ‘Expat Services’ ensuring smoother financial transitions.
  • Extensive online resources in English to aid with understanding Dutch banking norms.
  • Efficient international transaction systems.

Cons for foreigners:

  • Some niche services might only be accessible in Dutch.
  • Branch availability can be limited in smaller towns.


💡 Tip: ING’s website and Banking app is fully available in English.

ING Bank in the Netherlands

Originating from a 19th-century savings institute, ING has evolved into an international financial institution recognized globally.

ING’s website and app are available in English, reflecting its modern, expat-friendly approach.

Pros for foreigners:

  • Mobile banking app recognized for its user-friendliness.
  • Dedicated International Client Desk for non-resident banking queries.
  • Competitive fees for international transfers.

Cons for foreigners:

  • While customer service is widely English-speaking, occasional wait times might occur during peak hours.
  • Some specific product details may require translation.


Rabobank Bank for foreigners in the Netherlands

With its roots tracing back to a cooperative bank in the late 19th century, Rabobank is deeply embedded in Dutch financial history.

Rabobank offers an English website and services tailored for the international audience.

Pros for foreigners:

  • Comprehensive packages for internationals, ensuring relevant financial products are accessible.
  • Workshops and webinars on Dutch financial systems for newcomers.
  • Strong network of branches across the country.

Cons for foreigners:

  • Some of their online tools may primarily be in Dutch.
  • A slightly more traditional approach compared to newer, tech-forward banks.


Bunq Bank for Foreigners in The Netherlands

A newer entrant in the banking scene, Bunq embodies modern banking with a flair for innovation.

Being a digital-first bank, Bunq offers its services primarily in English, aiming at a global clientele.

Pros for foreigners:

  • Highly rated mobile app with features like instant international transfers.
  • Flexibility in creating sub-accounts for specific needs (e.g., travel, dining).
  • Environmentally-conscious initiatives like planting trees for specific transactions.

Cons for foreigners:

  • Being entirely digital, it lacks physical branches for in-person queries.
  • Might be overwhelming for those used to traditional banking systems.

Understanding Banking in the Netherlands

Understanding Banking in the Netherlands

The Dutch banking sector, much like its architecture and infrastructural prowess, is rooted in a mix of tradition and modernity. Predominantly regulated by the Dutch Central Bank (De Nederlandsche Bank) and the European Central Bank, the system boasts a mix of large multinational banks, regional institutions, and innovative fintech players. Their collective aim? To offer a wide array of services that cater to both local and international clientele.

Importance of Having a Local Bank Account

While international cards and accounts might serve you well on short trips, having a local bank account in the Netherlands brings a multitude of benefits.

Convenience in Daily Transactions. From tapping your card in the local bakery to setting up automatic rent payments, a Dutch account streamlines your financial dealings.

Lower Transaction Fees. Frequent use of foreign cards can accumulate significant fees. Local accounts usually offer more competitive rates, especially for everyday transactions.

Easy Access to Services. Need a gym membership, mobile contract, or simply want to order online from a Dutch website? Many local services require a Dutch IBAN (International Bank Account Number).

Building Financial History. If you plan on a longer stay, your local financial footprint can assist in securing loans, mortgages, or credit facilities down the line.

As you immerse yourself in the system, it’s worth noting a unique feature of Dutch banking: the emphasis on digital transactions. The Dutch are avid users of online banking, mobile apps, and contactless payments. Physical branches exist, of course, but many day-to-day transactions are carried out digitally, making it essential for newcomers to familiarize themselves with this aspect.

Related: How to optain a loan in The Netherlands as a foreigner

How to Choose the Right Bank in The Netherlands

How to Choose the Right Bank in The Netherlands

Choosing a bank is more than just pinning a name on a map. It’s about aligning with an institution that understands and anticipates your needs, ensuring your financial journey in the Netherlands feels less like a challenge and more like a seamless experience. But how does one sift through the plethora of options and make an informed decision? Let’s lay down the essential criteria to consider, crafting a roadmap to your ideal banking partner.

Language Accessibility

For many newcomers, the Dutch language can be an initial hurdle. Thus, prioritizing banks that offer the following.

English-speaking services: Look for banks that have English versions of their websites, apps, and paperwork. It’s a reassuring sign that they’re attuned to the needs of the international community.

Bilingual customer support: Being able to discuss your concerns in English, whether over the phone or in-person, can make all the difference.

Online and Mobile Banking

In the digital age, and especially in a tech-forward nation like the Netherlands, the digital interface of a bank is as crucial as its physical presence.

Ease of digital transactions. A user-friendly online platform and mobile app can simplify tasks like transferring money, checking balances, or setting up recurring payments.

Clarity of interface. The platform should be intuitive, with clear instructions, preferably in English, to avoid any missteps.

International Transactions

For many foreigners, the connection back home remains strong, necessitating regular international transactions.

Fees. Consider banks that offer competitive rates for international transfers, whether it’s sending money back home or receiving it.

Accessibility. Some banks provide specialized accounts or services for frequent international transactions. These can be invaluable for expats, students, or business professionals.

Availability of Financial Products Suitable for Foreigners

Your financial needs in the Netherlands might extend beyond just a basic account.

Diverse offerings. Look for banks that offer a range of financial products, from credit cards tailored for foreigners to flexible loan options or even investment avenues.

Adaptability. Some banks might have packages specifically designed for expats or international students. These can be tailored to the unique requirements of those not native to the Netherlands.

Tips for Opening a Bank Account in the Netherlands as a Foreigner

Tips for Opening a Bank Account in the Netherlands as a Foreigner

Equipped with the right knowledge and guidance, opening a bank account in the Netherlands can be a smooth and streamlined affair.

Required Documents

Forewarned is forearmed. Here’s a list of the usual documents you’ll need:

  • Identification: A valid passport or European ID card.
  • Proof of Residency: This could be a rental contract, recent utility bill, or an official document showing your address in the Netherlands.
  • BSN (Burger Service Nummer): The Dutch social security number, essential for any official procedure in the country. If you’ve recently arrived, it’s a priority to apply for this.
  • Employment/Student Details: If employed, a letter from your employer might be required. For students, proof of enrollment from the educational institution is essential.

Expected Waiting Times

While the process of opening an account can often be initiated on the same day of your bank visit, the complete activation might take a few days to a week, especially if there’s a delivery of physical items like debit cards or checkbooks.

Setting Up Online Banking and Mobile Apps

  • Internet Banking Codes: When your account is set up, you’ll often receive (either in person or by post) unique codes or devices for accessing internet banking. Keep these secure and handy.
  • Language Preferences: While most banks offer English interfaces, ensure to set this up during your initial setup or ask the bank representative to guide you.
  • Two-factor Authentication: For security reasons, many banks require an extra verification step (like an SMS code) for online transactions. Familiarize yourself with this process.

Understanding Fees and Service Charges

Fee TypeDescription
Monthly FeesNominal charges for account maintenance.
Transaction CostsCosts may apply for international transfers and certain ATMs.
Special PackagesBundles tailored for expats or students may offer cost savings.

Additional Resources

Below, we’ve curated a list of invaluable resources to further enhance your understanding and ease your banking experience in this beautiful nation.

  • IND (Immigration and Naturalisation Service): Provides comprehensive information on visas, residency, and other formal procedures. Website.
  • Belastingdienst (Dutch Tax Authority): Essential for understanding tax implications, liabilities, and benefits in the Netherlands. Website.

ABOUT Thijs de Vries

Thijs de Vries is our Lead Financial Guide at A native of the Netherlands with a decade of finance experience, Thijs deeply understands the Dutch financial landscape.

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