December 6, 2013

The Dutch Ministry of Internal Affairs announced that on January 6, 2014 a new law comes into effect: the Basic Registration Persons (BRP) Act.  As a result of this BRP Act the SOFI Number (Social and Fiscal Number) as issued by the Tax Office will cease to exist, and the responsibility of issuing a tax number to non-residents will be taken over by 18 appointed municipalities, as part of the implementation of a new database.

Delay in Implementation

Previously the cessation of issuing SOFI Numbers by the Tax Office was planned for December 9, 2013, as we reported in our blog on October 28, 2013; however, as this date was nearing it became clear that not all appointed municipalities were ready to take over the responsibility of issuing tax numbers to non-residents by this date. The authorities therefore decided to delay the implementation.

SOFI Number vs. BSN

The responsibility of issuing tax numbers to residents in The Netherlands was already taken over by the municipalities in 2007, at the same time transforming the number to be issued to residents not only to a tax number, but a more generally used national identification number, and renaming it to Burger Service Number (BSN). However, the Tax Office is up to this day responsible for issuing a SOFI Number to foreigners who are non-residents, i.e. cannot register at a Town Hall, because they do not have their own address (yet), (e.g. who are staying in a hotel, but who need the BSN because they are working).

Note that there are exceptions to this practice for certain Knowledge Migrants obtaining their Residence Permit through an Expat Center. For example at the Expat Center in Amsterdam it is possible for a Knowledge Migrant to (temporarily) register on the company’s address and to obtain the BSN based on that address.

What’s Changed?

Residents in The Netherlands are registered in the Municipality’s Basic Administration (GBA) of their place of residence, and when someone moves to a different town the GBA record of the person moves with them to the new municipality. However, it is not possible to register non-residents in the GBA. Since the BSN was linked to registration in the GBA it was therefore not possible for the municipalities to issue a BSN to a non-resident, which is why the Tax Office was still responsible for issuing SOFI Numbers to foreigners without their own place of residence in The Netherlands.

The new BRP Act that will come into force on January 6, 2014 will require non-residents to register in a new special database called RNI (Registratie Niet-Ingezetenen) in order to obtain a BSN. This database will be similar to the GBA, although it will normally contain less information. Anyone who is not a resident in The Netherlands, but for some reason has ties to the Dutch authorities can be registered in this new database. This includes foreign workers without an address in The Netherlands, and would also include, for example, individuals such as Dutch citizens and other previous residents living abroad.

The following 18 municipalities have been appointed to act as a registration center for non-residents: Alkmaar, Almelo, Amsterdam, Breda, Den Haag, Doetinchem, Eindhoven, Goes, Groningen/Eemshaven, Heerlen, Leeuwarden, Leiden, Nijmegen, Rotterdam, Terneuzen, Utrecht, Venlo and Zwolle. Non-residents can go in person to any of these municipalities to register in the RNI, and subsequently obtain a BSN. If and when they have found a place of residence and register at its municipality, then their record from the RNI database will be moved to the local GBA.

The transition to the RNI database of current records from several authorities with information on non-residents will be implemented in several steps:

    • First the Tax Office will be providing details of persons who they have issued SOFI numbers to since the implementation of the BSN in 2007. The information of anyone not currently registered in the GBA will then be entered into the RNI.
    • Secondly, the municipalities will provide the personal information on file in their GBA of Dutch citizens and other previous residents who have moved abroad in the past. Under the new Act going forward, records of anyone moving abroad will be transferred to the RNI once deregistration has taken place at Town Hall.
    • Thirdly, the Tax Office will provide updated information on the people who have moved abroad and were transferred from the GBA to the RNI in the previous step.
    • Lastly, other authorities, such as the IND, will be connected to the RNI, which might result in further updates to the RNI’s records.


Employers should note that as of January 6, 2013 it will no longer be possible to obtain a SOFI Number through a Tax Office for employees without their own address in The Netherlands. Instead, their non-resident employees should proceed with registering themselves in the RNI at one of the registration centers.  Required documentation and information have not been published yet and could differ from the ones having been needed for the application for a SOFI Number at the Tax Office. Estimated processing times for issuing the BSN by these registration centers are also not yet known; however, a temporary increase in processing times can be expected, as is common when implementing a new procedure.

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Caveat Lector | Warning to Reader

This is provided as informational only and does not substitute for actual legal advice based on the specific circumstances of a matter. Readers are reminded that Immigration laws are fluid and can change a moment’s notice without any warning. Please reach out to your local Pro-Link GLOBAL specialist should you require any additional clarification. This alert was prepared by Pro-Link GLOBAL’s Knowledge Management team. Pro-Link GLOBAL worked with our PLG | KGNM Correspondent Office in The Netherlands to provide you this update.

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