People ask me sometimes how I’m going to register at the city council. And I don’t have an answer to that right now, because I don’t even know yet where I’m going to live. If I can’t be registered at the address my house is at, I’ll apply for a correspondence address with the council.
I’ve asked around and talked to a lot of people about this and here I’ll try to summarize what I’ve learned. I want to make clear that the below is my interpretation of what I’ve read and heard and so it could be that not all of it is correct. But it might help you get some idea of the various possibilities. It remains a legislation jungle in our little country! Where possible I’ve added a link to the source.
What are the possibilities?:
Register with family or friends
- Waste fees are calculated for a one or three person household. When you register with one person these costs need to be added.
- Social welfare is calculated based on the income of the entire household, so someone might lose income. Rent and healthcare benefits could be influenced as well. So make sure you register with people living in a bought home and who are not receiving any benefits from the council or IRS.
- When you want to relieve the person you’re registered with you could use a postal address and have your mail sent there so you don’t have to collect your mail from this person.
A practical example: “I’ve called the IRS and the advisor said that when I register with two friends (partners) who bought their house and don’t receive any benefits, my registering with them would at first sight not have any consequences for their or my income tax. So if I were exempted from my tax returns, I would still be when I’m registered with my friends. And they wouldn’t have to change anything in their tax returns either.”
When you rent a room with family or friends and you have a signed a business contract, then your registration does not have any consequences either for tax returns or benefits. See the IRS page: ‘ Iemand staat op uw adres ingeschreven‘.
Note: incorrect registration at the Gemeentelijke Basisadministratie (GBA) is punishable by law! See the article by Drs. Erica Vergaal.
Register a correspondence address with family or friends
Anyone who has no permanent place of residence can apply for a temporary correspondence address at the GBA. You can then receive mail at this address, for example from official institutions. The correspondence address is temporary and is consequently not a residence address. Ask your local council for more information.
- A correspondence address is usually given for a short period of time, although in practice it is possible for a longer period of time.
- You can take out insurance, have a right to social welfare, etc.
- It is wise for both you and the person with whom you have the correspondence address to declare you currently don’t have a permanent place of residence.
- Your parents do not lose the right to home care, etc., when you use their address as your correspondence address as long as there is no impression whatsoever that you live there.
Register as “homeless”
- You do have an address in the form of a house, boat, car or caravan in a permanent location.
- Or you do have an address where you receive shelter and where you spend at least 20 nights a month (or 8 months a year). For example, with an aid organization that provides shelter.
- Or you have a postal address with family or friends.
- You remain entitled to social welfare, etc. You declare (temporarily) that you do not have a permanent address.
- You can take out insurance.
Renting a room for a small amount of money
- Only to have an address where you will be registered.
- Again: incorrect registration is punishable by law. When you declare you live somewhere while in reality living somewhere else: that is considered an incorrect registration.
Other tips and issues of interest:
- When you are not registered anywhere for too long, you become an illegal. IRS will unsubscribe you, making it impossible for you to take a job.
- Most likely they will not check very quickly whether you are actually living somewhere unless it concerns social welfare fraud.
- There are still camping sites that offer the opportunity to register as a resident, for example when they also offer rental apartments.
- A postal address is different from a correspondence address. Most official institutions do not accept a postal address.
Practical examples I’ve come across:
- X is registered at a postal address and before that at her parents’ address. The reason for changing to a postal address was that one of the parents needed home care, which was not possible due to the fact that there was an indwelling child. The council advised her to register at a postal address and in all those years only 1 letter came asking whether she had found a permanent address yet. She did declare, as well as her parents, that she does not have a permanent place of residence. She receives social welfare and UWV (Dutch welfare institution) is aware of the situation and has no objections.
- X writes: “when you are registered with family you do not need to do your tax returns together. This depends on the family relationship. My family and I are currently living with my mother until our boat is ready to live in. And my family and my mother do our tax returns separately.”
- X writes: “I have been registered with friends for the last 5 years. They bought their house and there are 5 more people registered at their address. The owner of the house works with the IRS, which is why we knew for sure this would not cause any problems.”
- X writes: “For 8 years I have supposedly been living abroad with 2 kids. During this time I had a job, took out insurance and received child support, etc. When we unregistered they told me I was obligated to state a new address. I replied I didn’t know yet and that I would let them know when I did. For 8 years we lived in a small privately owned house. I didn’t register and it is all possible. I would receive 8 years less of elderly support, but because I can prove I was working in the Netherlands and did not have any income abroad, I even get those 8 years. When you work you automatically pay your premiums, etc.”
It would be nice when the government comes up with a solution for all this squabbling. There is obviously a need for more transparent and a less rigid policy to support people who want to live more alternatively, freely, mobile (and in most cases more Eco-friendly). The fact is that current legislation is not working, not for the residents and not for the councils. The legislation jungle discourages people so that they would rather live illegally than challenge the council. And that is too bad, because this way it is unclear how great the need really is for alternative forms of living and for fitting legislation to meet that need. It might also confirm certain prejudices the government has towards people who want to live in these alternative ways. Let’s hope the solution will be found in the near future!