Getting a dutch bank account
October 2, 2007 11:49 AM   Subscribe

How to get a bank account in Holland with no sofi number (in order for my foreign friend working there temporarily to get paid)?

My friend is in Holland for three months. She has a university post. After waiting three weeks for a "sofi" number and running around town from building to building, she was finally told it is not possible (because it requires a work permit which she cannot get because she is only there for two more months). But she needs this Sofi number in order to get a bank account in her name, as the university will not pay her any other way. Now she is running out of money. Is there anything that can be done here?
posted by crack to Work & Money (9 answers total)
It is odd that the university is willing to pay her while she doesn't have a work permit. If they pay her - rather than reimburse her for expenses - they will need a sofi number (for tax purposes). Do do you have any more details, like type of work, academic position/status? She is not from a European Union country, I guess?
posted by swordfishtrombones at 12:03 PM on October 2, 2007

When I lived in NL it was pretty straightforward to get a sofi nummer. Has something changed or is your friend non-EU? I know it's hard if you're non-EU to get this.
posted by ob at 12:08 PM on October 2, 2007

Ok, this will be painful if you or your friend does not know Dutch but it is possible to get a bank account without a sofi number. As described here (last paragraph) it is best if she goes to the ABN Amro bank on the Dam (assuming she is in Amsterdam) because they have experience with it.

If she is not in Amsterdam I would suggest she goes to the biggest bank around or ask the University. She will need to have some forms from the University with her for the bank to be able to open an account. Student services should know more about it.
posted by sebas at 12:16 PM on October 2, 2007

Thanks for the answers so far. All I know at the moment is that she is at Utrecht University. She is an invited American professor teaching a seminar. I have no details as to why the university has not been able to help her sort this out. She did mention that in order to get a work permit she would have to prove that she is the only one who can fill her own shoes. Also I'm not sure there is enough time to secure a work permit at this point anyway as she only has a couple of months left. It may not be worth the wait and red tape.
posted by crack at 12:30 PM on October 2, 2007

This is something she needs to work out with the International Office. The university invited her, right? Fighting the red tape alone will indeed take very long. Can't they pay her directly into her US account?
posted by swordfishtrombones at 12:52 PM on October 2, 2007

Oh, swordfishtrombones, I could be misinformed. From what she told me in a brief email, it sounded like the main thing she needed was a bank account and not a work permit. If the latter is in fact what she needs, is there a relatively quick and painless way for her to get it? She has been running around to various government offices and has spend much time on the phone, and no one has given her definitive answers. At one point she was told she could go back to the Sofi office and get a number finally, but when she went back there, they told her they have word from Pooh Bah that nothing whatever can be done re getting a sofi number. I'm guessing at that point she was trying to get the number without a work permit. She did not apply for a work permit because her stay was too short for her to be able to apply for one (or so she was made to believe).
posted by crack at 1:00 PM on October 2, 2007

Can't they pay her directly into her US account?
No. They have said she must have a Dutch account.
posted by crack at 1:02 PM on October 2, 2007

Fact is, there are lots of foreign guest lecturers. They all get paid, but they probably do not need a sofi-number.

Why does the university need a Dutch account? Her contract probably says she is employed as a knowledge worker - someone with 'rare' qualifications not found elsewhere in the Netherlands. It's a way to circumvent the otherwise very strict immigrant laws. I suspect she's obliged to pay taxes under the Dutch law. That might be the reason she needs a Dutch account.

The international office at the university probably arranged her contract. They can help in getting a work permit, as they have good ties with the Dutch immigration office. But I would not recommend going that way - it still takes ages.

A better approach might be to renegotiate the contract. She should have the same type of contract all other short-term foreign people have. Again she needs to go to the international office, but it might be wise to let the professor handle this. That's the only advise I have - escalate the problem. She was invited, and she is entitled to help.

Tell her she need not worry about her money - it will be there, eventually. I hope she finds a good way of paying for expenses, and I apologise for the stupidity of the people who made the contract in the first place.
posted by Psychnic at 2:48 PM on October 2, 2007

Thanks Folks for all your help.

It turned out that a ridiculous bureaucratic error occurred. There wasn't any problem after all except ignorant government officials who didn't recognize the legitimate paperwork for what it was. The university did try to help resolve the matter (making a dozen phone calls, etc.). Eventually the sofi office called and admitted a mistake. But my friend will have to go back and traverse the proper channels yet again.
posted by crack at 9:49 PM on October 3, 2007

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