Tuesday, August 6, 2013

DAFT: Opening a Bank Account

Dutch Immigration Part IV

The Dutch-American Friendship Treaty requires applicants to invest €4500 in their business. You will have to demonstrate to the IND that you posses this amount in cash or assets. Plopping a bag full of €4500 worth of coins on the agent's desk is not the best option. Instead, you can open an account (rekening) with a Dutch bank.

ABN-AMRO Den Haag offices. Photo Courtesy Wikimedia Commons

This turned out to be a bit more of a hassle than expected. I contacted ABN-AMRO, which is one of the largest banks and also provides some information in English. What many of their staff do not know is that, as an American, there are special requirements for opening an account for you due to the policies of the US government. Before opening a personal or business account, you must contact the "US Persons" department. I made a
couple appointments with the wrong departments before someone figured out who I needed to talk to. Ultimately, I wanted to open a business account*, but as it was explained to me, the US Persons agent was the only one who could input my information into their system, and once that was done the business department could use that file to create a business account for me.

The bank representative I spoke to took my contact information and passed it on to the right person, who then contacted me to set up an appointment for later that same week. She asked me to bring my passport, BSN, and address. I met her at the ABN-AMRO offices in the Hague and we sat down in a secluded office while she created my account. Unfortunately, as a US citizen the bank requires a US address from you. She said that the account is technically registered at my US address, with the local Dutch address used for mailing. The US government requires this under the Patriot Act. This will create extra hassle to anyone who does not maintain an address back in America.

She provided me a print-out of my information and was very helpful in answering questions and explaining what was included. The account she set up was private rather than business. I went ahead with this because I realized having a private account was not a bad idea. The downside is banks charge monthly fees, so having the account costs a couple Euros per month. The appointment took about an hour.

The next step was to set up the business account. I called to make an appointment, but I was told I should open the account online. However, I could not find any way to do this, so I e-mailed the US persons agent and asked how to create the business account. She confirmed that I needed make an appointment and said to call the business department at 088-2262626. This time, when they tried to tell me to do it over the internet, I explained to them that I was not a Dutch citizen and I had been told to apply in person. However, the woman did not speak good English, and she said something about a computer problem and hung up on me. So I called again and got someone with better English, and after going through my explanation again I finally had an appointment, the details of which were e-mailed to me a short time later.

I was told to meet their representative at the local ABN-AMRO branch. When I walked in I wasn't sure exactly where to go since there were not tellers as I was used to, but rather a couple electronic kiosks where most of the customers were conducting their business, with a podium which I walked up to and got the attention of one of the people at the desks in the back. After some good natured teasing from the local agent who obviously enjoyed chatting with the customers, I was sent to a back office where I met the business agent. He helped me choose the right account by asking what features I wanted (ie credit card, savings, etc.) and how much money I needed to manage. In addition to the information I provided for the personal account, he also needed my KVK registration.

After this, I waited to receive my bank cards in the mail. The PINs were sent separately. This was a little different from how ING, another large bank, handled it; with them I was mailed a notice to visit their local office with my passport to pick up the card and PIN.

Once I had the card I could log on online. ABN-AMRO gives you a little machine that you have to stick your card in to, and then it gives you a number to type. ING just uses a username and password. Using the internet I could now transfer the required amount to my business account.** You can also print out a statement to show the IND.

From the first phone call I made to this point took me about a month, but if you know to speak directly to the US persons department you will save yourself a couple weeks.

*Technically, the IND shouldn't care whether the account is business or personal, just as long as you have the correct amount. You could possibly just open a personal account for now, and then get a business account once you have your residence permit.

**I should clarify that I had already arranged to exchange my USD for EUR with someone else, so the EUR could just be transferred from their account. If you are transferring directly from a US Bank, you will need to arrange how to do that with your bank before you leave, or have someone at home wire the money to you. Also, check the exchange rate to make sure you have set aside enough funds.

Next: IND Application


BSN and Address from the Municipality Registration
KVK number


Bank statement for IND


ABN-AMRO: Private Accounts Overview
American Citizens Abroad: Banking Issues faced by Americans


  1. Hey Shannon,
    I stumbled across your blog after doing a little research on peoples experiences with the DAFT application process. I will be going through the same process early next year so I am intently taking notes on your experience! Thanks for all of this great information, I know it's going to help me out a lot in the future.

    Quick question though. Did you have to sign up for a personal account before signing up for a business account? Also, were you able to transfer money from an American bank to your new Dutch account?

    Look forward to hearing about the rest of your process

    Best of luck!!

    1. Hi Doug! The "US Persons" agent worked in the personal accounts, and since I had decided to go ahead and get a personal account I didn't press her about skipping that part. You could ask if she could just input your information without actually creating the account...or maybe close the personal account after getting the business one? You may not even need a business account at this point so you could wait to set one up until your permit is approved and you can actually DO business.

      I should have clarified where my money was being transferred from, so I'll add a note :-) You cannot make a European bank transfer from an American bank. My original plan was to entrust my money to someone at home and have them wire it to me. My US Bank would wire it for a $50 fee, but you had to be present, hence finding someone to do it for me. As it happened, I lucked out and found someone who would exchange EUR for USD so they transferred the money from their account.

  2. "The downside is banks charge monthly fees, so having the account costs a couple Euros per month."

    Is it really a few hundred euros per month in bank fees or did you mean per year?

    1. Not a few hundred Euros! That would be terrible. I said a couple Euros each month, which is bad enough :-) According to the 2013 fee schedule ABN AMRO sent me (sorry, I can't seem to find a copy online...), monthly fees vary from €1.67 to €5.10 per month, depending on the account package.

  3. Oops sorry! I don't know why I thought it said a couple hundred haha I must be going crazy. Must be from all the stress I have from trying to figure out how I'm going to stay in Europe legally on a long-term basis :) By the way how long did it take in total to receive your residency permit from the first step?

    1. Well, from the time I got there to the point I had the permit in my hands took about 8 months...though I had bad timing since the IND happened to be especially busy at that time. I'll be writing 2 more articles covering the IND application and receiving the permit which I'll post in October.

  4. Hi Shannon
    I came across your blog today and found it very informative. My husband and I are planning to relocate to Amsterdam in November and I can't wait to read your next section about your IND appointment. Right now I am looking at all of the forms that need to filed and filled out. On your application, in the section:
    Appendix | Declaration on income of self-employed person
    Can you give some information on how you went about getting this certified and signed by an accountant? Have you taken this step as of yet? And if so what was involved and who did you utilize?

    Thank you so much for sharing your experience and the information you have provided. I look forward to reading more.


    1. Hello! I did not need any certification by an accountant. The IND agent I e-mailed confirmed this. You only need to fill out the forms relating to working under the DAFT (make sure you choose "self-employed, based upon the DAFT" as your purpose of residence rather than "self-employed person" which requires more proof of income than the DAFT. You will see a list of the required evidence to enclose with your application). I will write a more detailed explanation of the application itself at the beginning of next month. Good luck!