Sofi, BSN and DigiD: how social services work in the Netherlands?

What is a Sufinummer, a Burgerservicenummer and a DigiD? Those who work in the Netherlands still can have some doubts about them. Here we explain what they are for and how you can apply for them

The Sofinummer and the BSN

Sofinummer was the citizen service number before it was replaced by the Burgerservicenummer (BSN), both issued by the Dutch tax office, the Belastingdienst.

Everyone who is in the Netherlands more than 4 months must ask for a BSN number. It is not only compulsory in order to be legally accepted as a citizen but also necessary when you need to sign your contract of employment, to open a new bank account, in case you need a doctor and even when you want to buy a car. A BSN is necessary in order to have access to all those services, including to your tax refund.

Firstly, you go to register in the municipality (Geemente) you live in. To ask for a BSN number you can also  call the municipal office and ask for an appointment It will be easier for you, avoiding the line and choosing what time would fit the best for you. Anyway, remember to not get late: if you miss the appointment, the officer will not set up a new one for you!

Once you get there, you will be asked to provide your local address and a valid identity certificate: ID or Passport are fine for EU citizens,while non-EU citizens must also have a residence permit and a copy of the work contract. Within 5 working days officers will sent your BSN directly to the provided address.

Non-EU applicants waiting for a residence permit can still apply for their Burgerservicenummer: in this case, you will have a temporary BSN that will be confirmed once the Geemente has your residence application all legit.

Since this is a unique identification number you can simply use your Bunderservicenummer (BSN) with any Dutch institution you will be dealing with. It was created to facilitate information exchange between authorities and make life easier to the citizens.


In 2003 Dutch government inaugurated the Nieuwe Authenticatie Voorziening (NAV) also called Burgerpin. One year later the name changed into DigiD, acronym for Digital Identity. Since then, almost every public institution joined the government program.

The aim is to gather all identification documents (ID, driving license, health insurance, etc) in just one code. Doing that most of the operations you currently do in physical offices, will be done by Internet,accelerating the services and easing office’s desk lines.

To get a DigiD code you firstly must have a BSN. Then you can only apply - guess it! - by internet. The name and the address provided should be the same you gave to the GBA (Geemente) - so the same you have on your BSN-.

The next future

Unfortunately, the only way to identify yourself is... yourself. In fact, you don't need to submit a personal identification certificate, a self-certification is sufficient in order to apply. In such circumstances, everyone who get hold of somebody's else BSN can use the DigiD number at his/her place. This leads to a lot of controversies about DigiD’s privacy safeness: although there are three different levels for the security, the first one and the less safe is the most used so far. The more you get safe, the more the services you can purchase, but Dutch people still seem to avoid them.

Digital identities, privacy bills, even digital nations have become topic of discussion for many of us. And you, what do you think about it? We will take the subject warm for you on our Fb page! Find us and give your opinion. 

Why to get and keep your BSN?

So, if you've ben working or you're going to work in the Netherlands, don't forget about your BSN, because you will need it for your tax refund at the end of every fiscal year!

Dendax guarantee you the maximum amount in the fastest way. Try our pre-calculation tax refund and find out how much money you can get back, it's FREE: