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Summary

  • Exercise normal safety precautions in the Netherlands. Use common sense. Look out for suspicious behaviour, as you would in Australia. Monitor the news and other sources for changes to local travelling conditions.
  • There remains a heightened threat of terrorist attack in a number of European countries, including the Netherlands. Possible targets for future attacks include major targets for sporting events and mass gatherings. Be vigilant in public places and report any suspicious activity to police. Monitor media for any new or emerging threats to your security. The level of this advice has not changed. Exercise normal safety precautions in the Netherlands.
  • The Netherlands' national terrorism threat level is at 'substantial'. This is the fourth of five levels, and means that 'there is a real chance of an attack'. See Safety and security
  • There are new, additional security measures at Amsterdam Schiphol Airport. Allow extra time for pre-departure and transfer formalities. See Safety and security.
  • Foreigners are often the targets of robbery, pickpocketing and bag snatching, particularly around tourist attractions. See Safety and security.
  • Be vigilant in public places and report any suspicious activity to police. Take official warnings seriously and follow the advice of local authorities.
  • See Travel Smart for general advice for all travellers. 

Entry and exit

Visas

The Netherlands is a party to the Schengen Convention. This allows you to enter the Netherlands without a visa in some circumstances.  Read the Smartraveller Schengen Convention bulletin before you leave Australia.

Australia also a Bilateral Visa Waiver Agreement with the Netherlands.  It provides another mechanism for Australians to travel to the Netherlands without a visa in certain circumstances. Before you travel, read information on this scheme on the Embassy of the Netherlands website.

Visa and other entry and exit conditions (such as currency, customs and quarantine regulations) can change at short notice. Contact the nearest Embassy or Consulate of the Netherlands, or visit their website for up-to-date information.

Other formalities

Border control authorities pay particular attention to minors travelling with only one parent or guardian. Non-travelling parents can help to facilitate a smooth departure by completing a "Permission to Travel" Form before the child's travel.

More information:

Passport

Make sure your passport is valid for at least six months from the date you intend to return to Australia. Carry copies of a recent passport photo with you in case you need a replacement passport while overseas.

Your passport is a valuable document and attractive to criminals who may try to use your identity to commit crimes. Always keep it in a safe place.

Be aware of attempts to obtain access to your passport by deception. If you are forced to hand over your passport, contact the Embassy for advice.

By law, you must, as soon as possible:

  • report a lost or stolen passport online or
  • contact the nearest Australian Embassy, High Commission or Consulate.

Money

Declare cash of 10,000 Euros or more (or the equivalent in another currency) if you are travelling between the Netherlands and any non-European Union (EU) country. This includes notes and coins, money orders, cheques and travellers cheques. If you fail to declare your cash or give incorrect information on entry to, or exit from, the Netherlands, you will be fined. You do not need to declare cash if you are travelling to or from another EU country.

Safety and security

Terrorism

There remains a heightened threat of terrorist attack in a number of European countries, including the Netherlands. This threat is posed by those motivated by the current conflict in Iraq and Syria. Possible targets for future attacks include major targets for sporting events and mass gatherings.

Since March 2013, the Dutch Government has maintained its national terrorism threat level at 'substantial'. This indicates that there is a credible threat of a terrorist attack occurring in the Netherlands. This is the fourth of five levels, and means that 'there is a real chance of an attack.' 

Dutch authorities introduced additional security measures at Amsterdam Schiphol Airport in August 2016. Authorities are recommending travellers departing via Schiphol Airport allow, 2 hours (Europe flights) and 3 hours (Intercontinental flights) for pre-departure and transfer formalities.

Terrorist attacks have occurred in a number of European cities, such as Paris, Brussels, Copenhagen, Glasgow, London, Madrid, Moscow, Oslo and Volgograd. Targets have included public transport and transport hubs, and public places frequented by foreigners. In addition, a number of planned attacks have been disrupted by European security services in recent years.

  • Be alert to possible threats, especially in public places
  • Report any suspicious activity or items to police.
  • Monitor the news for any new or emerging threats.
  • Take official warnings seriously and follow the instructions of local authorities.
  • If there is an attack, leave the affected area immediately if it is safe to do so. 

More information:

Crime

Foreigners are often the targets of robbery, pickpocketing and bag snatching.

Pickpocketing is common around Amsterdam's main tourist attractions, in restaurants and tourist accommodation, on public transport and at transport hubs. There are frequent reports of bag snatching on trains and trams, including those that operate through Schiphol Airport. Mobile devices are an attractive target for thieves operating on public transport systems.

Thieves sometimes operate in pairs, with one attempting to distract you while the other steals your possessions. People using automatic teller machines (ATMs) around nightclubs and bars are frequent targets.

There are reports of thieves posing as plain clothes policemen. The thieves ask to inspect currency and credit cards looking for counterfeits. Tourists handing over money have been robbed.

Theft from hostels and other budget accommodation also occurs.

Incidents of drink spiking have been reported.

  • Take care of your personal belongings, particularly on public transport and in key tourist locations, such as airports, train stations, hotel lobbies and restaurants.
  • Carry passports and other valuable possessions on your person, rather than in a bag.
  • Do not leave drinks unattended. Do not accept drinks from strangers.

Scams

'Advance fee fraud' and lottery scams occur in the Netherlands.

Typically, advance fee fraud takes the form of foreigners being contacted in their home country by email, and advised of an inheritance or other offer, often originating in Africa. The perpetrators seek an advance payment for alleged official expenses, and the victim is invited to visit the Netherlands to finalise the transaction. No monies are paid to the victim and, upon return to their home country, there may be further bogus offers of assistance from sham legal representatives to recoup lost funds.

The lottery scam typically takes the form of a foreigner being contacted as the beneficiary of bogus foreign lottery winnings, with a request for payment to facilitate administration costs associated with winnings. Australians have lost large sums of money in such scams.

More information: International scams

Civil unrest and political tension

Civil unrest is rare in the Netherlands but demonstrations and large public gatherings can turn violent. 

Monitor the news and plan your movements to avoid any possible or actual protests, rallies or demonstrations.  If you are in an area affected by unrest, follow the advice of local authorities.

Local travel

Since 2015, there have been significant pressures on border controls in Europe due to the movement of asylum seekers. Carry your passport when crossing borders, even within the Schengen area. Keep up-to-date on border conditions by checking local news sources and asking transport providers directly.

Road travel

Road conditions are similar to those in Australia but some basic rules differ.

  • Vehicles drive on the right hand side of the road and must give way to traffic and cyclists approaching from the right, unless otherwise indicated.
  • Trams, cyclists and mopeds have right of way ahead of other vehicles.
  • Drivers must be in possession of a warning triangle and fluorescent jackets for occupants of the vehicle in case of breakdown.

More information: Road travel

Driver's license

You don't need a Dutch drivers' licence if:

  • you have a current Australian driving licence and
  • you are 18 years or older and
  • you have been in The Netherlands for less than 185 days. 

After the 185-day period, you'll need a Dutch licence.

If you plan to rent a vehicle, consider getting an international drivers' licence.  Car rental companies can require an international licence (for insurance purposes).

Air travel

The Australian Government does not provide information on the safety of individual commercial airlines or flight paths. See instead the Aviation Safety Network website for information on aviation safety in the Netherlands.

More information: Air travel

Laws

Local laws

You're subject to all local laws and penalties, including those that appear harsh by Australian standards. Research local laws before travelling, especially for an extended stay.

If you're arrested or jailed, the Australian Government will do what it can to help you under our Consular Services Charter. But we can't get you out of trouble or out of jail.

Drug laws

The minimum age for purchasing all forms of alcohol and tobacco in the Netherlands is 18 years.

The purchase and personal use of drugs such as cannabis is only allowed in designated premises (so called "coffee shops") and by residents of the Netherlands.

You could face criminal penalties, including heavy fines and/or imprisonment if:

  • you buy or use drugs such as cannabis outside of designated premises or
  • you buy or use drugs such as cannabis in a designated premises but you are not a resident of the Netherlands or
  • you possess or traffic illegal drugs or narcotics, including psychoactive ('magic') mushrooms.

Remember that taking drugs will reduce your ability to make considered decisions and may make you more likely to become a victim of violence, robbery or sexual assault.

More information:

Other laws

Under Dutch law, persons over the age of 14 are required to carry identification, such as a valid passport, driver's licence, identity card or Dutch residency card, at all times. Dutch police officers and other law enforcement officials can request to see your identification at any time.

You can be fined if you fail to present identification when requested.

Australian laws

Some Australian criminal laws apply overseas. If you commit these offences, you may be prosecuted in Australia. Laws include those relating to:

  • bribery of foreign public officials
  • child pornography
  • child sex tourism
  • female genital mutilation
  • forced marriage
  • money laundering
  • terrorism.

Dual nationals

Our Dual nationals page provides important information for dual nationals.

Health

Travel insurance

Take out comprehensive travel insurance before you depart to cover overseas medical costs, including medical evacuation.

Remember, regardless of how healthy and fit you are, if you can't afford travel insurance, you can't afford to travel. The Australian Government will not pay for a traveller's medical expenses overseas or medical evacuation costs. This can be very expensive and cost you many thousands of dollars upfront.

Confirm:

  • what circumstances and activities are and are not covered under your policy
  • that you are covered for the whole time you will be away.

More information: Travel insurance

Physical and mental health

It's important to consider your physical and mental health before travelling, especially if you have an existing medical condition.

  • At least eight weeks before you depart, see your doctor or travel clinic for a basic health check-up, and to discuss your travel plans and implications for your health.
  • Get vaccinated before you travel.

If you need counselling services while overseas, contact the Australian Consular Emergency Centre on +61 2 6261 3305 and ask to speak to a Lifeline telephone counsellor.

More information:

Medication

Not all medications available over the counter or by prescription in Australia are available in other countries. Some may even be considered illegal or a controlled substance, even if prescribed by an Australian doctor.

Take prescription medicine with you so you remain in good health. Always carry on your person a copy of your prescription or a letter from your doctor stating what the medicine is, how much you'll take and that it's for personal use only.

Before you leave Australia:

  • check if your medication is legal in each country you're travelling to.

More information: Prescription medicines

Health risks

Health risks in the Netherlands are broadly similar to those in Australia.

Medical facilities

Medical facilities and care are comparable with those in Australia but medical costs are high.

There is a Reciprocal Health Care Agreement between Australia and the Netherlands. Under this agreement, you can get urgent or emergency medical treatment in the Netherlands' public hospital system by providing your valid Medicare card.

The Reciprocal Health Care Agreement does not:

  • cover treatment in private hospitals or as a private patient in a public hospital
  • cover treatment to Australians who travel to the Netherlands with the specific intention of obtaining medical treatment
  • replace the need for private travel health insurance.

More information: Medicare

Where to get help

Depending on what you need, your best option may be to first contact your family, friends, travel agent, travel insurance provider, employer, or airline. Your travel insurer should have a 24-hour emergency number.

Emergencies

  • Firefighting and rescue services: 112
  • Medical emergencies: 112
  • Criminal issues, contact police: 112. Obtain a police report when reporting a crime.

For non-urgent criminal issues, contact the police at the nearest police station.

Tourism services and products

For complaints relating to tourism services or products, contact your service provider directly.

Australian Government

Read the Consular Services Charter for what the Australian Government can and can't do to help you overseas.

For consular assistance, contact the Australian High Commission in The Hague:

Australian Embassy, The Hague

Carnegielaan 4
2517 KH The Hague
NETHERLANDS
Telephone (31 70) 310 8200
Facsimile (31 70) 310 8250
Website: netherlands.embassy.gov.au
Facebook: Australia in the Netherlands

Check the Embassy website for information about opening hours and temporary closures that may affect service provision.

If you are unable to contact the Embassy in a consular emergency, contact the 24-hour Consular Emergency Centre on +61 2 6261 3305, or 1300 555 135 within Australia.

Additional resources