Even if studying abroad offers the opportunity to meet new people from all four corners of the world, you will still feel the need to keep in touch with your loved ones from your native country. To do so you are most likely to use your mobile phone. However, once you finally arrive in the Netherlands, one of your first concerns is going to be: ‘Is it worth it to get a Dutch SIM card or not?’
Why bother to get a Dutch SIM card?
If you are from the EU, and you are using a provider available in the Netherlands as well as in your native country, you may be able to continue using the same phone number you had before arriving here.
However, do keep in mind that for a good many of the facilities in the Netherlands, you may need a Dutch number. For instance, if you want to get a bank account most companies ask their clients to have one. You can find out more about the Dutch banking services here:
If you are not from the EU, or if your operator does not allow you to continue with your mobile subscription from home, you will most likely have to get a Dutch SIM card as roaming options often have exorbitant prices or offer you limited amounts of data and min/SMS.
Once you have decided to get your first Dutch SIM card, you should know that you can opt for two types of subscription: Contract and Prepaid
Contracts have the advantage that they are stable and that you can often get a brand-new phone along with them, not only the SIM card. Usually, you can choose between paying the price of the phone in monthly instalments or merely purchasing it on the spot. Keep in mind that even though monthly instalments are practical, you may end up paying more in total.
Additionally, the subscription plan is flexible, which means that you can opt for whatever amount of data, call time and SMS you need.
Subscription plans vary from 12 months to 24 months and usually the longer the subscription, the more money you save as operators have offers for loyal customers.
The main downside of a contract is that you need to be subscribed for at least 1 year. You can cancel your contract earlier only if you pay an additional fee. Furthermore, contracts tend to be rather expensive, especially the ones with a phone included
Prepaid SIM cards are the best friend of any broke student! They constitute a flexible alternative as you can top-up your SIM card only when you need to. Thus, if you do not use your phone regularly, or if you do not plan to stay for a long period in the Netherlands, prepaid cards are the best option for you!
Moreover, if you are under 18, you cannot get a subscription plan so prepaid is your only option.
The signing-up process is effortless and quite straightforward. You can find them pretty much anywhere from Schiphol airport to most groceries or electronic stores.
However, if you plan to frequently access your social media accounts it may be quite costly to stick with a Prepaid card.
Tip: Watch out for convenient student plans. A lot of companies have such plans in their offer, and they can save you up some cash! For instance, Ben offers free connection cost and extra 4G quota.
How to Get a SIM card
You can either try online (but bear in mind that not all operators allow internationals to sign up online and that a good many websites are in Dutch) or by simply going to the local shop of your chosen operator.
If you opt for purchasing your SIM card online you will have it delivered in the comfort of your own house and then you will most likely have to activate your number following the instructions received in the mail. Otherwise, you can buy it from the nearby store and have the shop assistant fix everything for you.
Some mobile operators offer an add-on option called ‘dataplafond’ (literally translating to ‘data ceiling’). Should you finish all the data included in your mobile plan, the dataplafond prevents you from accessing the internet. Therefore, if you exceed your monthly quota by mistake, you can avoid being charged the extra fees most operators ask for.
Paying a little extra for the dataplafond could be an ingenious move if it is hard for you to keep track of your monthly data usage on your own!
Prices and Payment Options
The prices are in Euros and they vary from 2,50 to over 40 € / month, the most costly options being the ones which offer unlimited data. Popular operators with student-friendly offers include Ben and T-mobile.
The payment is stress-free. Each month the money will be deducted from your bank account. Nevertheless, keep in mind that you will need a Dutch bank account for that!
Dutch Emergency Numbers
In the eventuality of any unfortunate urgent event, you can contact the authorities at the European Emergency Number 112.
Tip: The Healthcare System in the Netherlands can seem quite overwhelming for a foreigner. Check out our complete guide to Dutch healthcare system.