Jesse’s story about living with type 1 diabetes in the Netherlands 

juli 2023

Jesse komt uit Californië, maar woont inmiddels zo’n twee jaar in Nederland. Hij heeft al 25 jaar type 1 diabetes. Hieronder deelt hij in het Engels zijn verhaal en tips over leven met type 1 diabetes in Nederland.

You may have heard from an acquaintance or read in some blog post that it takes approximately 10,000 hours to master a skill. All it takes is a bit of passion, drive, and motivation (or a haphazard word cocktail sprinkled with synonyms) and eventually, you’re there. It seems like a daunting task. 10,000 hours comes out to practicing this skill 24 hours per day for roughly 14 months. That’s a lot of dedication. Many people would quit, and they would be excused for doing so. Yet for some, quitting is not an option.

Hey! My name is Jesse. I am originally from California, and I am approaching my two-year anniversary of living in the Netherlands. I have also within the past year ‘celebrated’ my 25-year anniversary with type 1 diabetes. According to this 10,000 hour skill mastery regimen, I should at least be a master in living in the Netherlands, and perhaps a mastermind at living with diabetes (having had enough time to master diabetes management 21 times over!). However, there is always room to learn, and I want to share some tips I have picked up along the way in the hopes it helps you in setting up your diabetes care in the Netherlands.


I arrived in March 2021 in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic. At the time, the Netherlands had several restrictions in place to reduce the risk of social transmission of the virus. Every essential service that remained open required making and appointment (afspraak), and sometimes these were not available for several weeks, so planning in advance was key.

Some of this planning occurred back home, and in anticipation of any possible delays in setting up my Dutch social security number (BSN), bank account, and health insurance policy, I brought roughly 3 months of medical supplies with me which turned out to be necessary.

Settling in

Many Dutch services require a Dutch social security number (BSN) and/or a Dutch bank account to set up, and the obligatory Dutch health insurance is no exception. Start these processes as early as possible.

I came under the Orientation Year (zoekjaar) visa. I had already received my BSN number during my visa application process, but still needed to register at my municipality (gemeente) upon arrival to be eligible for services requiring a registered address. Having a registered address is a prerequisite to registering with your local general practitioner (GP), opening a Dutch bank account, receiving medical supplies through the mail (in my experience, pharmacies do not stock CGM supplies, so these are always delivered via post), and many more. Additionally, health insurance companies in the Netherlands require a Dutch bank account to open a policy.

My experience in opening a Dutch bank account was hopefully an outlier due to the unique situation of the pandemic, but it still took nearly two months to set up, which was rather frustrating as many other services depended on it.

One of the biggest sore points for me was a municipal registration verification (uitreksel) that the bank needed to set up my account. The municipality had two options for retrieving this document: the first was an online request that would send the document to your registered address within 5 business days, and the second was an in-person request that would provide the document during the visit. However, the first option required a Dutch bank account to process the payment, and the second option had no available dates for the next three months. I was certainly facing a dilemma. Luckily, I was assisted by an acquaintance with a Dutch bank account to process the payment. Without this assistance, I might have been delayed an additional three months in achieving my end-goal: setting up my diabetes care.

Different municipalities may have different payment options, so your experience may vary. In the process of writing this post, I checked the current availability for an in-person uitreksel request, and the dates are much more available now than when I went through the process. It is useful to check often, as time slots may become available same-day depending on appointment cancellations. This is also true for making last-minute/urgent appointments at the IND offices.

Present day

I now enjoy a relative peace when it comes to navigating the Dutch healthcare system and receiving diabetes care, though this peace was hard-won. Although I was previously happy with the general autonomy I had when being seen exclusively by a diabetic nurse at my former clinic, I am now seen by an endocrinologist, two attentive diabetic nurses, and soon following up with a dietician to better understand my body’s needs. Everyone’s journey through type 1 diabetes management will require a unique approach as well as a different combination of people to make it easier, and I encourage you to explore the possibilities that the community at Diabetes+ can offer you.

There are of course many practical things you will need to arrange yourself, so here is a summary of what you can do to be best prepared. When it comes to applying for a BSN number, registering with the municipality, setting up a bank account, and finding a health insurance provider and primary caregiver, start as early as possible. All of these things take a ton of time and you will be happy you prepared early. You will likely need to produce a variety of documentation and thus have a crash-course in the Dutch bureaucratic system before your health care is fully set up, so if possible, bring as many diabetes supplies with you as you can. You can find some additional tips (in English) from Diabeter, a specialist Type 1 Diabetes clinic in the Netherlands here:


I appreciate Diabetes+ for providing the platform to share my experience, and hope you can learn from this too. Please reach out, I am always happy to help you in your journey with any resources I can share.


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