COUNTRY DESCRIPTION: The Netherlands is a highly developed, stable democracy. Tourist facilities are available throughout the country. Read the Department of State’s Fact Sheet on the Netherlands for additional information on the U.S.-Netherlands relationship.
SMART TRAVELER ENROLLMENT PROGRAM (STEP) / EMBASSY LOCATION: If you are going to live in or visit the Netherlands, please take the time to tell our Consulate General in Amsterdam about your trip. If you enroll, we can keep you up to date with important safety and security announcements. It will also help your friends and family get in touch with you in an emergency. Here’s the link to the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program.
Local embassy and consulate information is available below and at the Department of State’s list of embassies and consulates.
Please note that all requests for consular assistance in the Netherlands must be directed to the Consulate General in Amsterdam.
There are no consular services available at the Embassy in The Hague.
Consulate General of the United States, Amsterdam
1071 DJ Amsterdam
Telephone: (31) (20) 575-5309
Emergency after-hours telephone: (31) (70) 310-2209
Facsimile: (31) (20) 679-0321
Embassy of the United States, The Hague
Lange Voorhout 102
2514 EJ The Hague
Telephone: (31) (70) 310-2209
Facsimile: (31) (70) 361-4688
ENTRY / EXIT REQUIREMENTS FOR U.S. CITIZENS: The Netherlands is a party to the Schengen Agreement. As such, you may enter the Netherlands for up to 90 days for tourist or business purposes without a visa. The 90-day period begins when you enter any of the Schengen group of countries. If you are traveling for any other purpose, or if you intend to stay longer than 90 days, you should inquire about the appropriate visa at the Dutch Embassy or a Dutch Consulate in the United States. Your passport should be valid for at least three months beyond the period of stay. For further details about travel into and within Schengen countries, please see our Schengen fact sheet.
For further information, contact the Embassy of the Netherlands at 4200 Linnean Avenue NW, Washington, DC, 20008, one of the Dutch consulates in Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, or Miami, or one of the various honorary Dutch consulates throughout the United States. Additional information is available on the Dutch Board of Tourism and Conventions website. Visit the Embassy of the Netherlands' website for the most current visa information. Information on work, residency, and immigration requirements in the Netherlands can be found on the website of the Dutch Immigration and Naturalization Service.
The U.S. Department of State is unaware of any HIV/AIDS entry restrictions for visitors to or foreign residents of the Netherlands.
Information about dual nationality or the prevention of international child abduction can be found on our website. For further information about customs regulations, please read our Customs Information page.
THREATS TO SAFETY AND SECURITY: Since 2004, Dutch government security measures have been in place in response to concerns about terrorist activity in the Netherlands by international and domestic extremist groups. The Dutch Government has determined the current terrorist threat level to be "substantial." According to the Dutch National Coordinator for Counterterrorism, this level, the second-highest of four levels, means that “there is a realistic possibility that an attack will take place in the Netherlands.”
We encourage you to keep up with the latest news while in the Netherlands and to take steps to increase your security awareness. As with other countries in the Schengen area, the Netherlands’ open borders with its European neighbors allow for the possibility of terrorist groups entering/exiting the country with anonymity.
Demonstrations are commonplace in the Netherlands and may range in number from a few demonstrators to several thousand. Prior police notice is required for public demonstrations, and police oversight is routinely provided. Nonetheless, even demonstrations intended to be peaceful can turn confrontational and possibly escalate into violence. We urge you to avoid areas of demonstrations if possible, and to exercise caution if near one. Visitors should stay informed about demonstrations from local news sources and hotel security. Additionally, information regarding demonstrations brought to the attention of the U.S. Consulate General Amsterdam will be posted on the Demonstrations page of the Consulate website.
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CRIME: While the rate of violent crime in the Netherlands is low, tourists are often targeted by thieves. Visitors frequently fall prey to pickpockets, bag snatchers, and other petty thieves who target automobiles and hotel rooms. You should use your room or hotel safe, and keep your baggage locked or secured when you’re away.
While thieves may operate anywhere, the U.S. Consulate General in Amsterdam receives frequent reports of thefts from specific areas. Within Amsterdam, thieves and pickpockets are very active in and around train and tram stations, in the city center, and aboard public transportation. Theft is especially common on trains to and from Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport and international destinations, where hand luggage and laptop computers are often targeted. Thieves often work in pairs; one distracts you, often by asking for directions, while the accomplice moves in on your momentarily unguarded property. The timing of these thefts usually coincides with train stops, enabling the thieves to escape. In addition, many U.S. citizens have reported the theft of purses and briefcases while eating in downtown restaurants, including hotel breakfast rooms. Never leave your personal items or baggage unattended when going to the restroom, buffet table, etc.
Although still relatively limited, electronic theft has increased dramatically in the Netherlands in recent years. In March 2012, the Dutch Banking Association reported 2011 losses at 92 million euros – nearly double that of 2010. Most of the theft involved “skimming,” a technique that copies bank card information. ATM and credit card users are advised to keep an eye on their cards at all times. If you feel uncomfortable using your card for any reason, use cash. Contact your credit card provider for further guidance.
Confidence artists have victimized U.S. citizens around the world, including in the Netherlands. Typically, a U.S. citizen is notified via email of a winning lottery ticket, an inheritance, or other offer requiring his or her assistance and cooperation. The U.S. citizen is asked to forward advance payments for alleged “official expenses,” “taxes,” etc. and, often, to come to Amsterdam to conclude the operation. Another common scam involves an Internet friend or partner who is reported to have been detained by immigration authorities in the Netherlands en route to the United States, and will not be released unless additional funds are paid to the “traveler.” In every case, these reports have been determined to be confidence schemes. Several U.S. citizens have lost tens of thousands of dollars in such scams. Funds transferred in response to such offers can rarely be recovered. Information on fraud schemes can be found on the U.S. Consulate General's website, and the Department of State's International Financial Scams page. If you suspect you have been targeted by a scam based in the Netherlands, you may report it to Dutch law enforcement authorities by email at email@example.com, or at the following address:
KLPD, Financial Crimes Unit
PO Box 3016
2700 KX Zoetermeer
Attention: Project Apollo
The Dutch Embassy in Washington, D.C. has a prepared letter that can be used to inform the Dutch Police of fraud.
Do not buy counterfeit and pirated goods, even if they are widely available. Not only are the bootlegs illegal to bring back into the United States, if you purchase them you may also be breaking local law.
VICTIMS OF CRIME: If you or someone you know becomes the victim of a crime abroad, you should contact the local police and the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate. We can:
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 as a result of such incidents. The fund also provides for dependents or immediate family members of homicide victims. For more information, contact the Dutch Ministry of Justice at (31) (70) 414-2000.
The local equivalent to the “911” emergency line in the Netherlands is 112.
Please see our information on victims of crime, including possible victim compensation programs in the United States.
CRIMINAL PENALTIES: While you are traveling in the Netherlands, you are subject to its laws even though you are a U.S. citizen. Foreign laws and legal systems can be vastly different from our own. Under Dutch law, for example, you may be taken in for questioning if you are unable to present your passport to local authorities. It’s very important to know what’s legal and what’s not in the country you are visiting.
Note that your U.S. passport will not help you avoid arrest or prosecution if you break local laws. If you are arrested in the Netherlands, however, you do have theright to request that the police, prison officials, or other authorities alert the Consulate General of your arrest, and to havecommunications from you forwarded to the Consulate General. This accommodation is based on the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations, bilateral agreements with certain countries, and customary international law.
While some countries will automatically notify the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate if a U.S. citizen is detained or arrested in a foreign country, that might not always be the case. To ensure that the United States is aware of your circumstances, request that the police and prison officials notify the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate as soon as you are arrested or detained overseas.
SPECIAL CIRCUMSTANCES: In recent years, U.S. citizens in the Netherlands have suffered death and injuries stemming from the use of marijuana, hashish, and other substances. Marijuana is a controlled substance in the Netherlands, and possession is a misdemeanor that can result in a fine. Historically, use of illegal substances has been tolerated when bought at licensed “coffee shops.” A new Dutch law, meant to prevent foreigners’ access to “coffee shops” and hence reduce drug tourism, was implemented in three southern provinces beginning in May 2012, and will be implemented nationwide in 2013. The law required the use of a “special pass,” available only to Dutch nationals, to access “coffee shops.” This law was later amended to allow local jurisdictions to develop their own enforcement plans and implementation time lines to prevent foreigner use of “coffee shops.”
”Coffee shops” are a haven for petty criminals who prey on tourists and other individuals under the influence of drugs. Persons who visit “coffee shops” have become victims of pickpocketing, identity theft, sexual assault, and other crimes. Visitors are warned that marijuana sold in the Netherlands may contain higher levels of THC, the active chemical in marijuana, which may exacerbate the drug’s effects and a user’s impairment. The U.S. Surgeon General has issued a warning against marijuana use. “Coffee shops” and other locations are known for selling other illegal substances, such as psychotropic mushrooms; visitors are cautioned against using such drugs, as they are dangerous. It is illegal to take any controlled substance, such as marijuana, into or out of the Netherlands.
The Netherlands instituted a comprehensive indoor smoking ban in July 2008. The ban includes all cafes, pubs, clubs, theatres, coffee shops, restaurants, hotels, airports, shopping malls, amusement centers, etc. Smoking is only allowed in private homes, in the open air, and in designated smoking areas.
Dutch customs authorities stringently enforce regulations concerning importation into the Netherlands of items such as firearms
and other controlled materials. Contact the Embassy of the Netherlands in Washington, D.C. or one of the Dutch consulates in Chicago, Miami, San Francisco, or New York for specific information
regarding customs requirements. Aerosol self-defense sprays, such as mace or pepper spray, are illegal to own and/or possess
in the Netherlands.
You must carry identification at all times in the Netherlands if you are age 14 or older. Accepted forms of identification for U.S. citizens include a U.S. passport or a Dutch residence card issued by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. A copy of a U.S. passport is not sufficient under Dutch law.
Dutch authorities may require U.S. citizens who apply for or obtain Dutch nationality to renounce their U.S. citizenship. For further information, visit the Dutch immigration and naturalization authority website and the U.S. Consulate General website.
LGBT Rights: Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) individuals enjoy full rights in the Netherlands. The LGBT community is protected by anti-discrimination laws, and there are no legal or governmental impediments to the organization of LGBT events. The Dutch Justice Ministry has reported a rise in reporting of harassment, mostly verbal abuse, of LGBT individuals as a result of government campaigns urging victims to report incidents.
ACCESSIBILITY: Dutch law guarantees equality and the right to access for people with disabilities. Information is available in Dutch on the Ministry of Public Health website.
MEDICAL FACILITIES AND HEALTH INFORMATION: Good medical facilities are widely available. Emergency medical response can be accessed by dialing 112. Pharmacies (“Apotheek”) 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 sent to the country. Travelers are urged to carry an adequate supply of prescription drugs in their original container, in their carry-on luggage. Please carry a letter from your pharmacist or medical doctor with you, as some drugs are subject to confiscation by local custom agents. Those traveling with any pre-existing 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.
Vaccinations are not required for travel to the Netherlands.
You can find good information on vaccinations and other health precautions on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention ( CDC) website. For information about outbreaks of infectious diseases abroad, consult the World Health Organization (WHO) website, which also contains additional health information for travelers, including detailed country-specific health information.
MEDICAL INSURANCE: You cannot assume your insurance will go with you when you travel. It’s very important to find out BEFORE you leave. You need to ask your insurance company two questions:
In many places, doctors and hospitals still expect payment in cash at the time of service. Your regular U.S. health insurance may not cover doctor and hospital visits in other countries. If your policy does not go with you when you travel, it’s a very good idea to take out another one for your trip. For more information, please see our medical insurance overseas page.
TRAFFIC SAFETY AND ROAD CONDITIONS: While in the Netherlands, you may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States.
In the Netherlands, travel in, around, and between cities is possible via a highly developed national public transportation system, an extensive system of bike paths, and by automobile and motorcycle on a modern 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 online. Intercity travel by road is relatively safe in comparison to some other European countries.
A valid driver’s license issued by a Department of Motor Vehicles in the United States is valid for use in the Netherlands for up to 180 days while in tourist or visitor status. You must use seat belts and child seats. Driving is on the right side of the road, as in the United States. Speed limits are strictly enforced via radar. Traffic cameras are pervasive throughout the Netherlands and tickets for traveling even 2-5 km/h over the limit are common. The maximum speed limit on highways is 120 km/h, with a highway speed limit of 100 km/h posted in most urban areas. Secondary roads and some urban-area highways have a speed limit of 80 km/h. The speed limit in towns and cities is 50 km/h, with 30 km/h zones in residential areas. The Dutch Government has reduced speed limits on certain roads near cities in an effort to reduce air pollution. You should be aware that speed limit signs are electronic, and therefore speed limits may be changed remotely by authorities depending on traffic conditions. Drivers must yield the right-of-way to drivers and bicyclists coming from the right at intersections or traffic circles unless otherwise posted. The maximum allowable blood-alcohol content in the Netherlands is 0.05%. Use of cellular telephones while driving without the use of a hands-free device is prohibited, and is punishable by severe fines.
Lanes in 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. Serious – and sometimes fatal – accidents involving pedestrians or bicyclists colliding with trams occur each year. Motorists should be especially mindful that bicyclists have the right-of-way; motorists must yield to bicyclists. Pedestrians should not walk along bicycle paths, which are often adjacent to the sidewalk and usually designated by red pavement.
Bicyclists and pedestrians should be particularly cautious during the winter months, when paths, roads, and especially bridges
can be icy and extremely slippery.
Taxi service in the Netherlands is safe but expensive. Trams and buses are both convenient and economical, but are often frequented by pickpockets.
AVIATION SAFETY OVERSIGHT: The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has assessed the Government of the Netherlands’ Civil Aviation Authority as being in compliance with International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) aviation safety standards for oversight of the Netherlands’ air carrier operations. Further information may be found on the FAA’s safety assessment page.
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This replaces the Country Specific Information for the Netherlands dated August 9, 2012, to update the Special Circumstances Section.