First steps for newcomers

First steps for newly arrived foreign residents

Welcome to the Netherlands. You have come from abroad to stay in Zwolle for a short or longer period of time. Maybe you even want to live here permanently. Moving to a new city can be exciting, but at the same time it can make you feel a bit lost. When you have just arrived, there are so many important things to settle. You may wonder what to do first.

The municipality of Zwolle has listed a number of necessary first steps that will help you on your way. In the description of these steps you can also find references to additional information on or on external websites.

For more information, visit the website of the Government of the Netherlandsexterne-link-icoon(Rijksoverheid). Or visit Netherlandsworldwide.nlexterne-link-icoon. You can read how to arrange your affairs with the government. For example, when you want to register with a municipality when arriving in the Netherlands, exchange your driving licence or register the birth of your child.

Applying for a residence permit. Yes/No?

Before you register at the municipality, you may have to apply for a residence permit first.

Are you a citizen of the European Union, Liechtenstein, Norway, Iceland or Switzerland? If so, you don’t need a residence permit to live in the Netherlands. A valid passport or identity card is sufficient proof that your stay here is legal. You don’t have to report to the Immigration and Naturalisation Service (IND, Immigratie- en Naturalisatiedienst).

Are you a citizen of a country outside of the EU or Liechtenstein, Norway, Iceland or Switzerland? For example of Africa or Asia? And will you be staying for more than 90 days? If so, you must apply for a combined residence permit and entry visa at the IND. This entry visa is called a Regular Provisional Residence Permit (mvv, machtiging tot voorlopig verblijf). You have to do this before you come to the Netherlands.

Are you a national of Australia, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, the United States of America, South Korea, Monaco or Vatican city? Or have you lived in another EU country for at least 5 years? In that case you do not need a mvv. You can apply for a residence permit in the Netherlands.

Will you be staying in Zwolle for less than 90 days? If your country is subject to visa requirements, you must apply for a short-stay visa at the Dutch embassy or consulate in your country.

For more details, visit the website of the IND: Or phone: +31  880 430 430.

Registering at the municipality

If you want to stay in the Netherlands long or short term, for example to work or to study, you must register at the municipality. How and where you need to register depends on the length of your stay.

Will you be staying in the Netherlands for less than 4 months?

If so, you must register as a temporary resident (non-resident) with the Non-residents Records Database (RNI, Registratie Niet ingezetenen). The RNI is part of the Personal Records Databaseexterne-link-icoon (BRP, Basisregistratie personen).

You need to bring a valid indentity document to your appointment.

For more information, go to: How can I register in the Non-residents Records Database?externe-link-icoon

Will you be staying in the Netherlands for more than 4 months?

If so, you must register as a resident with the Personal Records Databaseexterne-link-icoon (BRP, Basisregistratie Personen). You need to register at the Migration desk in the municipality of Zwolle. To register, you must make an appointment by telephone with the Municipal Office (Stadskantoor). You have to do this within 5 days of your arrival in the Netherlands. Please call:

  • 14038 if you are calling from the Netherlands.
  • +31 38 498 31 38 if you are calling from abroad.

For more information, go to: When should I register with the Personal Records Database?externe-link-icoon. Or go to:

Citizen service number

After you have registered with the BRP, you will automatically receive a citizen service number (BSNexterne-link-icoon, burgerservicenummer). You will need this personal number for all kinds of government services.

Applying for a DigiD

When you go to the Municipal Office (Stadskantoor), you must often show proof of your identity  (passport, ID card or driving licence). This way the employee of the municipality will know for certain who you are.

DigiD is your digital proof of identity. Your username and password are linked to your citizen service number (BSN). With one login code you can access many government websites in the Netherlands. You can use it for government services and for your online administration.

For more information or if you want to apply for a DigiD, visit:

Starting your civic integration

Do you want to live in the Netherlands for a longer period of time? And do you come from outside the European Union, the European Economic Area (EEA), Turkey or Switzerland?

After you receive your residence permit from the IND, you must learn the Dutch language and get to know Dutch society as quickly as possible. This is called civic integration.

For more information, visit the website of the Dutch governmentexterne-link-icoon or the website of the Education Executive Agency (DUOexterne-link-icoon, Dienst Uitvoering Onderwijs).

If you want to know more about civic integration and participating in Zwolle, go to: civic integration and participating in Zwolle

Becoming a Dutch citizen

Would you like more information on becoming a resident of the Netherlands? Please visit the website of the INDexterne-link-icoon

Applying for a job

Are you looking for work? You can apply for a job after you receive your citizen service number (BSN).

For more information on finding employment, visit

For more information about working in the Netherlands, visit:

For more information about doing business in Zwolle and the Netherlands, visit:

Starting a business | KVKexterne-link-icoon

VAT number: NL001900249B01

Chamber of Commerce number: 08218173

Finding a house

Once you have decided to settle in Zwolle, naturally you will need a place to live.

Are you looking for accommodation? Here is a list of phone numbers of housing corporations in Zwolle:

For more information about housing in the Netherlands, visit:

Exchanging a foreign driving licence

Do you have to exchange a driving licence from your home country for a valid Dutch driving licence?

If you want to apply, you must first make an appointment with the municipality. To make an appointment, please contact the public service desks at the Municipal Office (Stadskantoor).

For more information, go to:

Or visit the website of the Netherlands Vehicle Authority (RDWexterne-link-icoonDienst Wegverkeer)

Clearing goods

To clear goods from abroad through customs, contact the Zwolle Customs Office.

Zwolle Customs Office
Hanzelaan 310
8017 JK Zwolle
Phone: 0800 - 0143 (from abroad: +31 45 574 30 31).
Opening hours: Monday to Thursday 08.00 - 20.00 and Friday 08.00 - 17.00
Fax: (050) 523 23 41