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Netherlands Travel Guide:

         Travel Information

Flag of Netherlands  
  Tourism Rating    Travel Safety   Entry Requirements  Avoiding Petty Theft

 Special Note    Road Safety and Conditions   Medical Care


Tourism Rating   Top of Page  
Two globes = Add-on destination


Climate Note:

Temperate; marine; cool summers and mild winters.     

     Amsterdam Climate

Netherlands: Add-on Destination (two of four globes)

The Netherlands is an intriguing country. It boasts more museums  per square meter than any other country. If you are a fan of Van Gogh, Vermeer, or Rembrandt, the Netherlands is a must see place.  For most of us, however, the Netherlands is a great add-on destination to a trip involving visits to other countries. 

  1. The Netherlands offers a variety of interesting cities, with Amsterdam being a must for most visitors.  While incredibly green, the countryside is not scenic in a spectacular sense, but pastoral and restful.  The Netherlands was a key player in much of European history and many of its towns have interesting histories.
  2. The Netherlands is a good destination for independent travel. Public transportation is efficient and commonly available.
  3. ThereArePlaces recommended travel destinations in the Netherlands are located at Netherlands: Best Places to Visit.
  4. Additional information on travel attractions in the Netherlands can be found at the country's official tourism website
  5. When planning your travel, be sure to review the ThereArePlaces Travel Planning Guides for insights on how  to "travel well" and "travel safe".
Travel Safety   Top of Page
Green light = safe travel







Be on the alert for bicyclists - they have the right of way.

The Netherlands is a safe destination for tourists.

  1. No official health advisories, travel advisories, or specific terrorism warnings for the Netherlands have been posted by the U.S. Government at this time.  Before you depart, always check with the Department of State  and CDC to insure that these conditions have not changed.  In addition, you will find that the     Foreign & Commonwealth Office  of the British Government provides excellent travel advisories.
  2. In 2004, the Dutch government implemented heightened security measures in response to concerns of international Islamic extremist terrorist activity on Dutch soil. The November 2004 murder of Dutch filmmaker Theo van Gogh by an Islamic extremist in Amsterdam has further increased concerns over Islamic extremist activity in The Netherlands. A number of people have been arrested in connection with van Gogh's murder and related Islamic extremist activities, and the Dutch government remains on heightened alert.
  3. Everyone age 14 and above is required to carry identification at all times while in The Netherlands. Accepted forms of identification for U.S. citizens are either a Dutch residence card, issued by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, or a U.S. passport.
  4. Demonstrations are commonplace in the Netherlands and may range in number from a few people to several thousand. Prior police approval is required for public demonstrations, and police oversight is routinely provided to ensure adequate security for participants and passers-by. Nonetheless, situations may develop which could pose a threat to public safety. U.S. citizens are advised to avoid areas in which public demonstrations are taking place.
  5. When you visit the Netherlands you will be amazed at the number of people who use bicycles as their main mode of transportation.  Many city streets (or sidewalks) have reserved Bike Lanes and the cyclist take no prisoners.  Avoiding bicyclists is a major problem for U.S. tourists since we do not expect or look for bicycle traffic.  Avoid walking in the Bicycle Lanes and look for oncoming cyclists when crossing the streets.  Accidents involving cyclists and tourists are a common incident in the Netherlands
  6. The State Department's Overseas Citizens Services call center at 1-888-407-4747 can answer general inquiries on safety and security overseas. This number is available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays). Callers who are unable to use toll-free numbers, such as those calling from overseas, may obtain information and assistance during these hours by calling 1-202-501-4444 .
  7. If you have an emergency in the Netherlands, call 112. 112 is a European Economic Community initiative to provide a one telephone number contact for ambulance services, the police, the fire service, air and sea rescue and other emergency services available within a specific country (such as mountain patrol). The 112-telephone number is designed for use in emergencies only. Calls are answered in English and Dutch.
  8. The U.S. Embassy is located in The Hague, at Lange Voorhout 102; tel. (31)(70) 310-9209. However, all requests for consular assistance should be directed to the Consulate General in Amsterdam at Museumplein 19, tel.  (31)(20) 575-5309. The after-hours emergency telephone number is (31)(70) 310-9499. The U.S. Embassy and Consulate General web site at answers many questions of interest to Americans visiting or residing in the Netherlands   See our article on how U.S. Counsels can help Americans abroad.
  9. When planning your travel, be sure to review the ThereArePlaces Travel Planning Guides for insights on how  to "travel well" and "travel safe".
Entry Requirements   Top of Page  
A passport is required for travel in the Netherlands. Visas are not required for U.S. citizens for tourist visits of up to 90 days(that period begins when entering any of the following countries which are parties to the Schengen agreement: Austria, Belgium,  the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg,  Malta, The Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia Spain, and Sweden).
To be admitted into the Netherlands, travelers must have a passport with a validity that exceeds the intended stay by at least three months, a return airline ticket, and enough money to finance the planned stay.

 For further information on entry requirements, contact the Embassy of The Netherlands at 4200 Linnean Ave. N.W., Washington, D.C. 20008, telephone (202) 244-5300 (at ), or one of the Dutch consulates in Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, New York or Miami. Additional information is available on the Netherlands' National Bureau for Tourism's Internet web site at

If you do not have a passport, see our article on the Ins and Outs of Passports.  Other important travel documents, including visas are covered in our Information Guide on Passport, Visas, Customs.

In an effort to prevent international child abduction, many governments have initiated procedures at entry/exit points. These often include requiring documentary evidence of relationship and permission for the child's travel from the parents or legal guardian not present. Having such documentation on hand, even if not required, may facilitate entry/departure

DUAL NATIONALITY:  In addition to being subject to all laws affecting U.S. citizens, dual nationals may also be subject to other laws that impose special obligations on citizens of the Netherlands.

In some instances, dual nationality may hamper U.S. Government efforts to provide protection abroad. For additional information, please see the State Department's Bureau of Consular Affairs Internet home page at for an explanation of dual nationality issues. U.S. citizens who are also citizens of  any other nation are reminded that U.S. law requires they enter and depart the United States documented as U.S. citizens.

Avoiding Petty Theft   Top of Page




Be on the alert for petty theft in Amsterdam


Watch your wallet on the train from Schiphol Airport

Before you travel, read our articles on Pickpockets, Con Artists, and ATM safety in the ThereArePlaces Information Guide on Personal Safety for travelers

Be alert and avoid the situations described below.

Tourists in the Netherlands are targets for petty crime. Local press recently reported that almost one out of every 10 tourists visiting Amsterdam is the victim of a crime. Visitors to larger cities frequently fall prey to pickpockets, bag snatchers and other petty thieves. Never leave baggage or other valuables unattended.

While thieves may operate anywhere, there are  frequent reports of thefts in Amsterdam:

  • Within Amsterdam, thieves are very active in and around the Central Train Station, the WTC/Zuid train and tram stations, the red light district, in restaurants, hotels, and on public transportation, especially trams 1, 2, and 5 between the Central Station and the Museum District.
  • In addition,  travelers have reported that their purses and briefcases have been stolen while eating in downtown restaurants, including hotel breakfast rooms. A good rule of thumb is to never leave your personal items unattended when going to the restroom, buffet table, etc.
  • Trains to and from Schiphol Airport to Amsterdam Central Station are considered to be high risk for petty theft.
    • Be sure to keep your luggage where you can see it.  The ride between Amsterdam and the airport is short and we advise you to keep your luggage in or near your seat where you can see it.
    • Thieves often work here in pairs; one distracts the victim, often by asking for directions, while the accomplice moves in on the victim's momentarily unguarded handbag, backpack, laptop, or briefcase. The timing of these thefts usually coincides with train stops, enabling the thieves to escape.
    • Don't be in a rush to be the first one off the train.  Have your luggage ready and head for the door when the crowd starts moving onto the platform.

The loss or theft abroad of a U.S. passport should be reported immediately to the local police and the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate.  In the Netherlands, all passport and American citizen services are provided by the U.S. Consulate General in Amsterdam. If you are the victim of any crime while overseas, in addition to reporting to local police, please contact the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate for assistance.

If you are the victim of a crime while overseas, in addition to reporting to local police, contact the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate for assistance. The embassy/consulate staff can, for example, assist you to find appropriate medical care, to contact family members of friends, and explain how funds could be transferred. Although the investigation and prosecution for the crime is solely the responsibility of local authorities, consular officers can help you to understand the local criminal justice process and to find an attorney

Special Notes   Top of Page  
  1. In cities, pedestrians should be mindful of trams, which often cross or share bicycle and pedestrian paths. Motorists must be especially mindful of the priority rights of bicyclists. Pedestrians should not walk along bicycle paths, which are often on the sidewalk and usually designated by red pavement.

2. Taxi service in the Netherlands is safe but expensive. Trams and buses are both convenient and economical, but they are often frequented by pickpockets.

3. If you have been defrauded in Amsterdam,  contact the Fraud Unit, Amsterdam Police, Police Headquarters, PB 2287, 1000 CG Amsterdam, Netherlands, tel. (31) (20) 559-2380, fax (31) (20) 559-5755.

4.  The Criminal Injuries Compensation Fund (CICF) of the Netherlands provides financial compensation, under specific circumstances, for victims of crime and for those who have suffered injuries and consequent loss caused by such incidents. The fund also provides for dependents or immediate family members of homicide victims. Violent crimes include assault, robbery with violence or murder, intended murder, rape, sexual abuse and unlawful deprivation of liberty. For more information, contact the Dutch Ministry of Justice at (31) (70) 414-2000.

5.  Train travel is the Netherlands is quick, efficient, and relatively economical.  Buying a ticket from an agent is a little more costly than buying one from a kiosk, but you can ask the agent to print you out a schedule for the train that will include transfer stations, time of arrival/departure, and the platform number where you will board the train. Note that trains are often broken down during transit and redirected to several locations.  The schedule will indicate which part of the train you should board to get where you are going.

6. ThereArePlaces makes every attempt to ensure that the travel information we present to you is current. Before you depart, be sure to check with official government sources to determine the status of critical information relating to a particular county.

Road Safety and Conditions   Top of Page  
While driving in the Netherlands, you may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States.

The information below concerning the Netherlands is provided for general reference only, and it may not be totally accurate in a particular location or circumstance:

Safety of Public Transportation: Excellent Urban Road Conditions/Maintenance: Excellent Rural Road Conditions/Maintenance: Excellent Availability of Roadside Assistance: Excellent

Travel in, around and between cities is possible via a highly advanced national train, light rail and tram network, by use of an extensive system of bike paths, and by automobile and motorcycle using the highway system. Rail is often a convenient alternative to driving, particularly in the areas around Amsterdam, The Hague and Rotterdam, where road congestion is frequent. Rail network information is available at .

Intercity travel by road is relatively safe in comparison with some other European countries. Nonetheless, more than 1,000 people die and another 10,000 are injured in traffic accidents in the Netherlands each year. More than two thirds of the fatal accidents occur outside urban areas.

A valid drivers license issued by a Department of Motor Vehicles in the U.S. is valid for use in the Netherlands for up to 180 days.

Seat belt and child seat use is compulsory.

Driving is on the right side of the road.  Drivers must yield the right-of-way to drivers and bikers  coming from the right at intersections or traffic circles, unless otherwise posted.

Lanes at the center of many urban two-way streets are reserved for buses, trams and taxis. In cities, pedestrians should be mindful of trams, which often cross or share bicycle and pedestrian paths. Motorists must be especially mindful of the priority rights of bicyclists. Pedestrians should not walk along bicycle paths, which are often on the sidewalk and usually designated by pavement colored red.

The maximum allowable blood alcohol concentration (BAC) in the Netherlands is 0.5 (mg/ml). ThereArePlaces recommends that you do not drink and drive.  In most foreign countries, especially in Europe and the UK, the maximum permitted blood alcohol levels are lower than those enforced in the United States. Penalties and punishments are significant. See our article on drinking and driving in foreign countries for more information.

Speed Limits in the Netherlands:

  1. Built-up areas - 30 or 50 km/h (as posted)
  2. Outside Built up areas (including  dual carriageways) - 80 or 100 km/h
  3. Motorways - 120 km/h (with a limit of 100 km/h posted on most urban portions of highways.

The Dutch government has reduced speed limits on certain roads near cities in an effort to reduce air pollution. During traffic jams, authorities also reduce speed limits; drivers should be sure to check for revised limits posted on electronic billboards above the highways.

Our information on speed limits is as current as possible. Always confirm the speed limits with your rental car agent and observe the posted speeds limits whenever and wherever you drive.

Use of mobile telephones while driving is against the law in The Netherlands is illegal without the use of a "hands-free" device  The fine for violating laws against the use of mobile phone while driving is significant.  If you need to use your mobile phone while on the road, stop your car in a designated parking area and place your call.

Tourists driving rented vehicles should pay close attention to the provisions of their rental contracts.  Failure to do so could result in fines or confiscation of the car during your travels.  Make sure that you are familiar with the terms, restrictions and costs related to your car rental (see our article on Rental Car Costs).

For information on obtaining international drivers licenses, contact AAA or the American Automobile Touring Alliance. For additional general information about road safety, including links to foreign government sites, see the Bureau of Consular Affairs Internet home page at .  .

For specific information concerning the Netherlands, see the Netherlands Bureau for Tourism's Internet web site at . Information also is available from the Netherlands Ministry of Transportation, Public Works and Water Management (Ministerie van Verkeer en Waterstraat) at  .

Medical Care   Top of Page  
Good medical facilities and quality medical care are widely available in the Netherlands.

The Netherlands Association of Hospitals has compiled a list of all Dutch hospitals on the following web site: .

The medical care sector in the Netherlands is based on a referral system. 

  • You are obliged to consult a general practitioner (huisarts) before attempting to obtain non-emergency medical treatment from a specialist. The medical care sector in the Netherlands is based on a referral system which requires patients to see a local huisarts first. Medical specialists will generally only see those patients who have been referred to them by a general practitioner.

  • General practitioners (huisartsen) can be found in the yellow pages in "vind een bedrijf" under "Artsen - huisartsen."
  • The central number for doctor referrals in the Amsterdam area is 0900-503-2042.

  • Dentists can be found in the yellow pages in "vind een bedrijf" under "Tandartsen."

  • If you are staying in a hotel, contact the reception desk and they will direct you to the doctor or dentist assigned to that hotel. If you are staying with a friend or family, you are advised to contact their family doctor or dentist.

Some common medications are not available in the Netherlands without a prescription, and some prescription drugs cannot be mailed into the country. Travelers are therefore urged to carry an adequate supply of prescription drugs in their original container while traveling.

Some U.S. over-the-counter medications are not available in the Netherlands and travelers should carry an adequate supply of these as well. Those traveling with any preexisting medical problems should bring a letter from the attending physician, describing the medical condition and any prescription medications, including the generic name of prescribed drugs.  

Emergency medical response can be accessed by calling 1-1-2. Reputable pharmacies are widely available and can assist with emergency prescription needs. Some common medications are not available in The Netherlands without a prescription, and some prescription drugs cannot be mailed into the country. Travelers are urged to carry an adequate supply of prescription drugs in their original container while traveling

We strongly urge you to consult your medical insurance company prior to traveling abroad to confirm whether their policy applies overseas and whether it will cover emergency expenses such as a medical evacuation. U.S. medical insurance plans seldom cover health costs incurred outside the United States unless supplemental coverage is purchased. Further, U.S. Medicare and Medicaid programs do not provide payment for medical services outside the United States. However, many travel agents and private companies offer insurance plans that will cover health care expenses incurred overseas including emergency services such as medical evacuations.

When making a decision regarding health insurance, you should consider that many foreign doctors and hospitals require payment in cash prior to providing medical service and that a medical evacuation to the U.S. may cost in excess of $50,000. Uninsured travelers who require medical care overseas often face extreme difficulties. When consulting with your insurer prior to your departure, please ascertain whether payment will be made to the overseas healthcare provider or if you will be reimbursed later for expenses you incur.

Your existing medical insurance carrier may cover "customary and reasonable" medical care while you are abroad. Usually, if reimbursement is provided, it is paid at a reduced rate (due to the use of an "out of system" provider). Check with your insurance carrier before you depart to determine the type and amount of coverage that may be provided. If coverage is provided, be sure to ask how claims should be filed and ask them to send some claim forms, in case you require any medical treatment while on vacation.

Read our article on  travel insurance to learn the factors that you should consider before you purchase or decline to purchase a travel related insurance policy.

ThereArePlaces Information Guide on Health contains valuable health related advice for the traveler considering a trip abroad.

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