When you get your residence permit, you will be permitted to move to a municipality. The government determines in which municipality you will be living. This municipality will see to it that you get a house and it will try to take account of your circumstances when choosing a home for you. In principle, you cannot refuse this house, for you will not get another house.
After you have signed the tenancy contract for your house, it is important that you register with the municipality as soon as possible. You can only apply for a benefit after you have registered. Usually, there is someone to help you with this, such as your counsellor at the Dutch Council for Refugees, a different organisation, or the municipality.
Furnishing your house
Most municipalities will give you a loan to furnish your first house. The amount of the loan may differ by municipality. In a thrift shop (in Dutch: kringloopwinkel), you can buy many things and furniture for little money.
Fixed charges for a house
The rent for a rented house must be paid every month in advance, so before the first day of the month. In some municipalities, you can borrow the money for the first month's rent. And if your income is low and you have a self-contained rented flat, you will often qualify for rent allowance. See the page Work & income for more information about this subject. For electricity and gas, you will have to enter into a contract with a power supplier. For water (and also for district heating instead of gas) you cannot choose your supplier and you will have to register with the company that supplies water at your address. For television, telephone, and internet connection, there are many providers to choose from. Ask your counsellor at the Dutch Council for Refugees to help you make a choice. Other fixed charges are the municipal taxes and the water authority taxes. If your income is insufficient, you may be granted remission of these taxes.
When you get your residence permit, you must register in the Municipal Personal Records Database (BRP). The Central Agency for the Reception of Asylum Seekers (COA) can tell you where and when this is done. After registration, you will receive a citizen service number (in Dutch: BSN). The BSN is a unique personal identification number you need in your communication with government agencies.
Applying for a DigiD
Contacts with the government go more and more via the Internet: all sorts of applications must be submitted via websites, letters are no longer delivered by post, but are delivered to the online messages box (in Dutch: Berichtenbox). You will often need a DigiD for this: a personal username with password. The COA or your counsellor at the Dutch Council for Refugees can help you to apply for a DigiD, or you can do this yourself at https://digid.nl/aanvragen. It is important that you do not forget the password. This password is personal; do not share it with others. Click the link at the bottom of this page for more information about DigiD. If you are not yet good at Internet, or if you want to use the Berichtenbox and websites of the government independently, you can follow a course at many libraries. Everything about DigiD in Dutch, English, French, and Arab.
The role of the Dutch Council for Refugees
- Your counsellor at the Dutch Council for Refugees can help you with many practical matters, often even before you move from the reception centre to your house. Once you have moved, you can contact a counsellor of the Dutch Council for Refugees in your municipality. If the Dutch Council for Refugees is not active in your municipality, a different organisation or the municipality will provide guidance.
- If you want to move from your first house to a different house, you will have to search for this house yourself. We usually do not provide guidance in that case. However, we do have the ‘Checklist Verhuizen’ (Moving Checklist): a list of all matters that need to be arranged.