Moving times Photo: ABN AMRO
An ABN AMRO banking expert shares his decades of experiences in helping people move to the Netherlands and set up their affairs here.
Two decades ago, moving to the Netherlands was quite an adventure. ‘A client came not knowing what was happening here,’ recalls Daniel Poot, who has spent his 50-year career at ABN AMRO assisting all kinds of immigrants from well-travelled diplomats to first-time expats.
‘I was downstairs at a desk and everyone who wanted to open an account could ask all kinds of questions. In the early 90s, sometimes you were sitting there for two hours explaining everything, including the public transport strippenkaart!’
Today, it’s quite a different process. ‘It’s more business-like: people go to the internet and sort everything out,’ he says. ‘If they have a BSN number they can open an account online within four hours, although they have to come the bank once to identify themselves. Clients I’ve had for 20 years really think the website is amazing!’
Poot, who works in The Hague and specialises in helping people such as ambassadors, diplomats, judges and employees of international organisations, is still on hand at a desk, though, to tell some genial tales about the Netherlands and guide expats in starting out here. Even though the ABN AMRO website is stocked with information in English, including some tips on Dutch culture and life in general, the bank is still keen to give a personal touch.
Mortgages and insurance
One of the first questions people have is where to live and how to get a mortgage. ‘Even if you have just arrived here, you can get a mortgage for a standard 85% of the market value of a house,’ explains Poot. ‘Even if you have a temporary contract, if you have an international employer, it might be possible to get a mortgage. We can give advice on what the costs are and the process.’
Another subject that expats ask about is insurance. Here, the bank has a range of products including liability insurance, which might be unusual in some countries but is recommended in the Netherlands’ cycling (and litigious) culture.
Health insurance is an issue for some people, Poot notes: since diplomats don’t pay Dutch tax, they also don’t pay social security contributions and this means that health insurance (not offered by the bank) will be more expensive.
One other thing he reminds people of is that money laundering regulations are now far stricter so if people intend to transfer money they earn in the Netherlands back to their homeland, they should expect questions about the source of the funds by receiving banks.
Here to stay
Poot – together with colleagues at specialist expat desks in Eindhoven, Rotterdam, Amsterdam and Utrecht – might not have as much personal contact with his clients as in decades gone by, but he’s still happy to offer some genial advice on settling in.
‘People are still surprised about the directness we have,’ he notes. ‘They love the lands of the Netherlands, the spring with the flowers, they ask me where to travel, to historical villages like Oudewater or Zeeland, or places they don’t think about.’
In fact, even though today’s expats have done their research (and much of their banking) online, he hopes they will have as long a relationship with the bank as his clients of the past.
‘I know ambassadors are normally only in the Netherlands for four years, but I have one who has been here for 20 already,’ he says. ‘He is staying here to retire with his children and grandchildren. He doesn’t want to go home! After 10 years a lot of people can ask for a permanent residency…and many of them do just that!’
For more information and checklists, see ABN AMRO’s expat pages