The Citizen Service Number (BSN)

The citizen service number (BSN) is a unique personal number allocated to everyone registered in the Municipal Personal Records Database. Your citizen service number is recorded on your passport, driving licence and identity card. The citizen service number replaces the social security and tax number (SoFi number) but consists of the same digits. Persons with a SoFi number who are not registered in the Municipal Personal Records Database will still have their SoFi number.

One-off provision of information

The citizen service number makes it easier for public authorities to exchange information without making errors. It is used in the Municipal Personal Records Database. Public authorities can use the citizen service number to retrieve your details, which saves you from having to provide them separately each time you have dealings with a public authority. Your citizen service number is the only number you will need in your dealings with public authorities. Only if the use of another number is laid down in law does a public authority not need to use the citizen service number.

The citizen service number prevents identity theft

The citizen service number is strictly personal. Exchanging citizen service numbers is against the law. Compared to its predecessor, the SoFi number, the citizen service number is better protected against identity theft (posing as another person, for instance by using their citizen service number).

Applying for a citizen service number

You need not apply specifically for a citizen service number. Unless you already have a SoFi number, you will automatically receive a new citizen service number when you register your details in the Municipal Personal Records Database. You may do so, for instance, when you first come to live in the Netherlands or when you register a newborn child. If you have no documents bearing your child’s citizen service number, the municipal authority will give you an extract from the records with that number. If your child is not registered in the Municipal Personal Records Database but does have a SoFi number, the Tax and Customs Administration will give you a statement with that number

The citizen service number in the care sector

Since 1 June 2009, all care providers, needs assessment agencies and health insurers have had to refer to citizen service numbers when exchanging information about patients or clients. The government hopes that this will make exchanging information simpler and more reliable.

Advantages of the citizen service number

Using citizen service numbers in the care sector has several advantages:

  • it reduces the number of errors in the exchange of patient information;
  • it prevents mistaken identity;
  • it makes it easier to declare medical costs;
  • it offers better protection against identity theft. 

Citizen service numbers are also used to exchange patient information reliably and securely in the Electronic Patient Records Database (EPD). The Q&A section also explains how the citizen service number is used in the care sector.

Compulsory identification and the citizen service number

Patients in hospitals and clinics have to show proof of identity with a valid identity document. Other care providers, such as GPs, physiotherapists and nursing homes also require patients to identify themselves. Care providers need to ascertain whether their patient and the citizen service number belong together.

The citizen service number in the education sector

The citizen service number is also used in the education sector, where it is referred to as the ‘education number’ or ‘personal identification number’. Anyone attending a course of education financed out of public funds has an education number. Schools have to use their students’ education number in their administration.

Pupils and students without a citizen service number

Asylum seekers and students who do not live in the Netherlands often have no citizen service number or SoFi number. They are given a temporary education number by the Education Executive Agency. The students have to relinquish this temporary number once they are registered in the Municipal Personal Records Database and receive a citizen service number from the municipal authority. Students or parents with questions about the education number should contact the school.