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Travel Security Advice for The Netherlands

Netherlands_National_Flag

netherlands_mapNetherlands_Overview


COUNTRY DESCRIPTION:  

The Netherlands is a highly developed, stable democracy.  Tourist facilities are available throughout the country.  Read the Department of State Background Notes on the Netherlands  for additional information.

REGISTRATION:

U.S. citizens living or traveling in The Netherlands are encouraged to register with the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate at the Department of State travel registration page , so that they can obtain updated information on local travel and security.  U.S. citizens without Internet access may register directly with the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate.  Registration is important; it allows the State Department to assist U.S. citizens in an emergency. 

ENTRY/EXIT REQUIREMENTS: 

The Netherlands is a party to the Schengen Agreement. As such, U.S. citizens may enter the Netherlands for up to 90 days for tourist or business purposes without a visa.  If you are traveling for any other purpose, you may need to obtain a visa.  Your passport should be valid for at least three months beyond the period of stay.  The 90-day period begins when you enter any of the Schengen group of countries.  For further details about travel into and within Schengen countries, please see our fact sheetAnyone intending to stay longer than 90 days must obtain the appropriate visa from the Dutch Embassy or a Dutch consulate in the United States.

For further information on entry requirements, contact the Embassy of the Netherlands at 4200 Linnean Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20008, telephone (202) 244-5300, or one of the Dutch consulates in Chicago, Los Angeles, New York or Miami, in addition to 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 authorities .

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."  This level, the second highest of four levels, is defined by the Dutch government as a "realistic possibility that an attack will occur" in the Netherlands.

American citizens in the Netherlands are encouraged to monitor media reports, and are reminded to maintain a high level of vigilance and take appropriate steps to increase their 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.  American citizens are therefore urged to avoid areas of demonstrations if possible, and to exercise caution while within the vicinity of any demonstrations.

For the latest security information, U.S. citizens traveling abroad should regularly monitor the Department of State's, Bureau of Consular Affairs' website It contains current Travel Warnings and Travel Alerts as well as the Worldwide Caution. The Consulate General’s web site posts information about demonstrations and activities that may affect American citizens at a demonstration notice page on their website .

Up-to-date information on safety and security can also be obtained by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll-free within the U.S. and Canada, or by calling a regular toll line, 1-202-501-4444, from other countries. These numbers are available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays).

The Department of State urges American citizens to take responsibility for their own personal security while traveling overseas.  For general information about appropriate measures travelers can take to protect themselves in an overseas environment, see the Department of State’s extensive tips and advice on traveling safely abroad .

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 may target automobiles and hotel rooms.  Room or hotel safes should be used, and baggage locked or secured when away from hotel rooms.

While thieves may operate anywhere, the U.S. Consulate General in Amsterdam receives frequent reports of thefts from specific areas.  Within Amsterdam, thieves are very active in and around train and tram stations, in the city center, and aboard public transport, especially on trains to and from Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport, where theft of hand luggage and laptop computers is common.  Likewise, travelers on city trams to and from the Central Train Station are often targeted by thieves and pickpockets.  Thieves often work in pairs; one distracts the victim, often by asking for directions, while the accomplice moves in on the victim's momentarily unguarded property.  The timing of these thefts usually coincides with train stops, enabling the thieves to escape.  In addition, many Americans have reported the theft of purses and briefcases while eating in downtown restaurants, including hotel breakfast rooms.  Never leave personal items or baggage unattended when going to the restroom, buffet table, etc.

In 2007, several American visitors reported experiencing excessive drowsiness, confusion, dizziness, and nausea after drinking alcohol in public areas such as hotel bars and night clubs in several cities throughout the Netherlands.  These effects may be the result of unknowingly ingesting drugs surreptitiously placed in drinks.  These drugs do not have a distinctive color, smell, or flavor and come in powder, liquid and pill forms.  Never leave drinks unattended and do not accept drinks from strangers.  If you believe you have been drugged, seek assistance immediately.  Try to keep the original beverage container, along with any remaining amount of the beverage, to assist the police with their investigation.  

Confidence artists have victimized a number of Americans.  Typically, an American citizen is notified via email of a winning lottery ticket, an inheritance, or other offer, which requires his/her assistance and cooperation to conclude.  The American 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/partner who is reported to have been detained by immigration authorities in the Netherlands en route to the U.S., 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 Americans 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’s website.  For additional information, please contact the nearest office of the U.S. Secret ServiceAdditional information is also provided in the Department of State's International Financial Scams If you have been in touch with such criminals using a Dutch address and/or telephone number, you may contact Dutch authorities via  This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it , or at the following address:

          KLPD, Financial Crimes Unit
          PO Box 3016
          2700 KX Zoetermeer
          The Netherlands
          Attention: Project Apollo

The Dutch Embassy in Washington DC has a prepared letter  that can be used to inform the Dutch Police.

In many countries around the world, counterfeit and pirated goods are widely available.  Transactions involving such products may be illegal under local law.  In addition, bringing them back to the United States may result in forfeitures and/or fines.



VICTIMS OF CRIME :

If you are the victim of a crime abroad, you should contact the local police and the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate (see end of this sheet or see the Department of State list of embassies and consulates ).  This includes the loss or theft of a U.S. passport.  The embassy/consulate staff can, for example, help you find appropriate medical care, contact family members or friends and explain how funds could be transferred.  Although the investigation and prosecution of 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 if needed.

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 in a foreign country, a U.S. citizen is subject to that country's laws and regulations, which sometimes differ significantly from those in the United States and may not afford the protections available to the individual under U.S. law.  Penalties for breaking the law can be more severe than in the United States for similar offenses.  Engaging in sexual conduct with children or using or disseminating child pornography in a foreign country is a crime, prosecutable in the United States

SPECIAL CIRCUMSTANCES: 

Visitors to The Netherlands should be aware that a comprehensive indoor smoking ban was instituted as of 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, 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, Los Angeles or New York for specific information regarding customs requirements. 

All persons who are age 14 and above are required to carry identification at all times.  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 American 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 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.  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 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.  Information on vaccinations and other health precautions, such as safe food and water precautions and insect bite protection, may be obtained from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) hotline for international travelers at 1-877-FYI-TRIP (1-877-394-8747) or via the CDC website For information about outbreaks of infectious diseases abroad, consult the infectious diseases section of the World Health Organization (WHO) websiteThe WHO website also contains additional health information for travelers, including detailed country-specific health information .



MEDICAL INSURANCE: 

The Department of State strongly urges U.S. citizens to consult their medical insurance company prior to traveling abroad. Important questions are whether the policy applies overseas and whether it covers emergency expenses such as a medical evacuation.  For more information, please see our medical insurance overseas page .



TRAFFIC SAFETY AND ROAD CONDITIONS: 

While in a foreign country, American citizens may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States. 

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 the 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 here .

Intercity travel by road is relatively safe in comparison to 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 driver’s license issued by a Department of Motor Vehicles in the U.S. is valid for use in the Netherlands for up to 180 days while in tourist or visitor status.  Use of seat belts and child seats is compulsory.  Driving is on the right side of the road.  Speed limits are strictly enforced via radar and cameras, 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.  Motorists should be aware that speed limit signs are electronic, and therefore speed limits may be remotely changed by authorities depending on traffic conditions.  Speed limits are strictly enforced and authorities use multiple cameras to detect violations, which can result in substantial fines.  Please note that 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%.  The use of cellular telephones while driving is illegal without the use of a “hands-free” device, 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.  Several accidents involving pedestrians or bicyclists colliding with trams have been reported this year, including one fatal accident that resulted in the death of an American citizen.  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 on the sidewalk and usually designated by red pavement. 

Travelers should also be watchful for one-way streets.  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.

Please refer to our Road Safety page for more information.  Also, we suggest that you visit the website of the Dutch national tourist office  for additional information.

AVIATION SAFETY OVERSIGHT:  

The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has assessed 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 safety assessment page .

CHILDREN’S ISSUES: 

Please see our Office of Children’s Issues web pages on intercountry adoption and international parental child abduction.



REGISTRATION/EMBASSY LOCATION: 

U.S. citizens living or traveling in The Netherlands are encouraged to register with the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate at the Department of State travel registration page , so that they can obtain updated information on local travel and security.  U.S. citizens without Internet access may register directly with the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate.  Registration is important; it allows the State Department to assist U.S. citizens in an emergency.

Local embassy information is available below and at the Department of State list of embassies and consulates .

Note that all requests for consular assistance should be directed to the Consulate General in Amsterdam.

Embassy of the United States, The Hague


Lange Voorhout 102
Telephone: (31) (70) 310-2209

Consulate General of the United States, Amsterdam


Museumplein 19
Telephone: (31) (20) 575-5309
Emergency after-hours telephone: (31) (70) 310-2209

 

This replaces the Country Specific Information for the Netherlands dated January 30, 2009, to update sections on Traffic Safety and Road Conditions.


The UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office also has information regarding The Netherlands HERE....

Looking for an Embassy ?, You can also check out our World Wide Embassies Listings Section HERE (For US Citizens) or HERE (For UK Citizens).........

Regards

The SW Team.........

 

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