The most common heating fuel in the Netherlands is natural gas, but an increasing number of new homes are now being built without a gas supply.
Most utilities in the Netherlands are sold in a ‘free-market system'. A number of suppliers compete with each other to supply private and business customers. Exceptions to this are water supplies, as each property has a designated supplier, and the hardware (cables, etc.) used for fixed-line telephony and cable TV, which are owned by the company that installed them. There is a charge for their use even if the signals passing through the cables come from another supplier.
Electricity & Gas
It is possible to buy these energy sources separately, but it is easier to buy them together. Everyone is free to choose the supplier for elektriciteit (electricity) and gas (gas), and it often pays to switch suppliers regularly.
There is no choice of supplier for the infrastructure itself. Enexis is the provider of infrastructure for electricity and gas throughout the Maastricht Region.
When moving into a new residence, the electricity and gas meters need to be recorded and a supplier contracted to provide gas and electricity. Electricity and gas meters are located in the meterkast (meter cupboard). Makelaars (real estate agents) can usually assist in completing the necessary information online or via email.
The gas and electricity meter readings need to be provided to the supplier each year. This is increasingly being done via email and/or smartphone app. Each supplier provides information on how meter readings can be provided.
Water in the province of Limburg is provided to each residence by Watermaatschappij Limburg – WML (Limburg Water Board). When moving into a new residence, the watermeter (water meter) needs to be read, and WML informed about the contact details for the new resident. Real estate agents can usually assist in completing the necessary information online or via email.
Internet is available through the telephone connection, the television connection or in some parts of the country, via glasvezel (glass fibre). In each case, there are a number of different suppliers, and all take around three weeks to send the equipment and set up the connection. Once the supplier has been selected, the modem will be sent to the residential address. If an engineer’s assistance is required, this can be organised via the supplier (this may incur an extra fee).
Payment for an internet connection will always be by direct debit, so a bank account is necessary.
A combination of television, internet and telephone services via the same provider is standard in the Netherlands. Channels usually broadcast programming in Dutch, German, Flemish and English. Depending on the provider there are various additional programme packages available including also a limited range of Turkish, Arabic, Spanish and French programming.
It is not always necessary to have a vaste lijn (land line phone). There is no choice of supplier for the phone line itself - KPN was the Dutch state monopoly and owns nearly all the hardware, though this situation is changing.
Fixed telephones in the Netherlands use different connector plugs to many other countries, which means phones bought outside the Netherlands may not work without an adaptor or a new plug.
If a land line telephone is required, it is worth applying for one as soon as you know the residential address is confirmed as connection can take some time.
Mobile and smartphones
All GSM mobile and smartphones will work in the Netherlands. It is advisable to switch to a Dutch SIM card upon arrival, otherwise international calling can be expensive.
Toestellen (handsets) can be ordered online, or in-store at a mobile phone shop. Necessary documentation for purchasing a handset or signing up for an abonnement (plan) include:
- bank account details;
- proof of identity: passport or national identity card;
- proof of address: utilities bill or rental contract;
- BSN: registration from the municipality.
Pre-paid SIM cards for use in existing handsets can be purchased at a range of different outlets across the Netherlands and do not require official documentation.