Most utility providers will offer you a contract for 12 months. Many companies will offer new clients a cheap, introductory rate for the first 3 months. After a year, Dutch law states that you have the right to cancel your service without receiving a penalty for this. Keep in mind that for short-term internationals it may be difficult to find an internet provider that will provide you service for only a few months. That is why you might want to find accommodation with Internet and television services already included.
In order to sign a contract, you will often need the following documentation:
- Valid proof of identity (not a driving licence)
- Bank account (details or card)
- In some cases, you may need to show a credit check, especially for cell phone plans
For utilities around the house, providers may also ask for:
- Rental contract
- Residence permit (if applicable)
- Employment contract (if applicable)
Gas and electricity
Gas for household use is piped into almost all homes in the Netherlands. Electricity is produced from various sources, including coal-fired power stations and wind farms, i.e. green power (groene stroom). Gas and electricity are both supplied by the same provider.
It is important to quickly arrange gas and electricity in a new home. Power is usually kept on for the first few days, but it will be switched off as soon as the previous occupants close their account. When moving into a new home, note the meter reading and notify the energy supplier. Customers can choose their own supplier, but the choice may be limited by those operating in the community.
The major providers are:
- Eneco energie
- Green Choice
- Nederlandse Energie Maatschappij
Choosing a provider may be difficult. You can compare prices and services online:
Many suppliers offer green energy (groene stroom). Also termed sustainable energy, green energy is electricity produced from environmentally friendly sources such as the wind, sun, organic matter or water power. Green energy is available from some suppliers at no extra cost; others charge a higher rate.
Tap water in the Netherlands is clean and therefore safe for drinking. Water in The Hague region is provided by Dunea and originates from the dunes between Katwijk and Monster. When moving into a new house it's generally not necessary to contact the water company. Billing changes are undertaken with the rental contract or mortgage.
The main service providers in the Netherlands all offer competitive rates on different types of bundles. These can vary from all-inclusive packages which cover Internet, a telephone line and TV to basic Internet connections. Most of these providers offer a state of the art, fibre optic internet coverage, but cable and DSL connections are still available if preferred. Generally, prices will start around 20 to 25 euros a month for a basic Internet connection, up to 65 euros a month for all-inclusive bundles.
Depending on how often you plan to watch television, there is a number of providers who offer various packages with channels. Make sure to examine which package is right for you. You may not have much interest at first in watching Dutch television, but it can be a great way to learn the language. But there are also opportunities to receive cable television, going beyond the standard selection of channels.
Land line phones
There are not a lot of internationals who have an immediate need for a land line phone. However, a lot of service providers that offer Internet and television may include a regular phone line in your service package.
- Compare prices and services on television, landline connections and Internet at the Consumentenbond's website (in Dutch).
If you are staying in the Netherlands for a longer period of time, it might come in handy to get a Dutch phone plan. In the Netherlands, there are two options: you can get a contract (abonnement) or a prepaid sim card. If you are planning to regularly use your mobile, a contract is the cheapest option. If you do not expect to use your phone very often, the best option is to get a prepaid sim card.
The main provider of postal and parcel services in the Netherlands is PostNL. They will deliver your mail from Tuesdays until Saturdays, which includes letters, bills and select packages. PostNL also picks up the mail deposited in the public mailboxes, generally delivering this within one to two days in the Netherlands. PostNL also delivers parcels, together with other delivery services such as DHL Parcel, Sandd, DPD and UPS.