If you’re travelling to The Netherlands, our travel advice and updates give you practical tips and useful information.
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Latest Travel Alert
Given recent terrorist attacks in European cities, Irish citizens are advised to follow the advice of police and local authorities and to exercise increased vigilance, especially if attending large public gatherings or other crowded locations. Attacks could occur at any time and could target tourist attractions, restaurants, transport hubs or other public areas.
Citizens should remain aware of their surroundings and ensure they have access to exits or escape routes at all times.
The best help is often close at hand so if you have problems, try talking to your local contacts, tour operator representative or hotel management.
You can contact the emergency services in the Netherlands by dialling 112.
Our tips for Safe Travels:
- Purchase comprehensive travel insurance which covers all your intended activities.
- Get a European Health Insurance Card
- Add an alert for your destination within the Travelwise App.
- Register your details with us so that we can contact you quickly if there’s an unforeseen crisis like a natural disaster or a family emergency.
- Follow us on twitter @dfatravelwise for the latest travel updates.
- Read our ‘Know Before You Go’ guide.
Safety and security
Safety and security
Schiphol (Amsterdam) Airport
Passengers arriving at Schiphol (Amsterdam) Airport by car or train may experience additional security checks. Please allow an extra half an hour of travel time.
Since March 2013, the Dutch Government has maintained its national terrorism threat level at ‘substantial’. This is the second highest of four levels, and means that 'there is a real chance of an attack'. You should remain vigilant in public places and report any suspicious activity to police.
Public transport is efficient and relatively inexpensive. You can usually pay the driver in cash, however, a travel card (the OVChipkaart) is the cheapest option and can be purchased at any train station. Remember to tag on when you board and tag off when you leave the train, tram or bus. Live travel information for all trains, trams and buses is available on www.9292.nl
Security personnel regularly inspect tickets and failure to pay your fare may result in a large fine or arrest.
Keep your luggage with you as theft of unattended bags is not unusual.
Bicycles and mopeds
Cycling is one of the most popular forms of transport in the Netherlands. In both urban and rural areas there is an extensive network of dedicated lanes (often paved with red tiles), next to the footpaths, for bicycles and mopeds. Don’t walk in the cycle lanes.
Bicycles and mopeds are frequently allowed to travel in either direction on one-way roads, and are given priority at many junctions. Take care when you’re crossing roads and watch out for all forms of traffic – trams, bicycles, cars and mopeds – and, when driving, watch out for cyclists.
The rules of the road in The Netherlands are broadly similar to those in Ireland, and roads are modern and well maintained. The Dutch drive on the right and give priority to the right, unless otherwise indicated. Be particularly careful when using roundabouts: on some you have the right of way when on them but on others right of way must be given to vehicles entering.
If you want to drive:
- Bring your full Irish driving licence and make sure you have adequate and appropriate insurance.
- Take extra care with bicycle traffic which generally has priority (see above).
- Be aware of The Netherlands’ traffic laws, such as speed limits. Speed cameras, speed traps and unmarked vehicles are widely used. Motorway speed limits are 120kph, except where lower limits are posted. City limits are generally 50kph.
Hiring a vehicle
If you’re hiring a vehicle, we advise you not to hand over your passport as a form of security. If you’re allowing your passport to be photocopied, keep it in your sight at all times.
Check that you have adequate insurance and read the small print of the vehicle hire contract (particularly any waiver that will come into effect if the vehicle is damaged).
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. Take particular care in central Amsterdam (especially Centraal Station), in Schiphol (Amsterdam) airport, and on the trains between Schiphol airport and Amsterdam city.
There are reports of bag snatching on trains and trams, including those that operate through Schiphol (Amsterdam) Airport. 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.
- Don’t carry your passport when out unless absolutely necessary and leave a copy of your passport (and travel and insurance documents) with family or friends at home.
- Don’t carry your credit card, travel tickets and money together - leave your passport, spare cash and valuables in a safe place.
- Incidents of drink spiking have been reported. Do not accept drinks from strangers or leave drinks unattended.
Reporting a crime
If you’re a victim of a crime while in The Netherlands, report it to the local police immediately. Most Dutch police ("Politie" in Dutch) speak excellent English. You can also contact us at the Irish Embassy in The Hague if you need assistance.
Local laws and customs
Local laws and customs
Under Dutch law, anyone over the age of 14 is 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.
Travelling with Children
While there are no laws prohibiting the travel of a minor with only one parent or guardian, it has been noted that border control authorities pay particular attention to minors travelling under these circumstances. You may be asked to present a ‘Permission to Travel’ form completed by the parent not travelling, as well as other documents. Follow this link for further information and to download a ‘Permission to Travel’ form.
The use of credit cards is not as widespread as in Ireland and you should check before making a purchase that they accept your brand of credit card. Where credit cards are accepted, you may be asked to produce photo ID.
The legal minimum age for drinking alcohol in The Netherlands has been revised and is now 18.
Contrary to popular belief, so-called soft drugs are not legal in The Netherlands. However, the purchase and personal use of drugs such as cannabis is allowed in designated premises (so called “coffee shops”) in the Netherlands. Purchasing or using drugs outside of designated premises is illegal and may result in arrest, heavy fines and/or imprisonment.
In 2012, the Dutch Government introduced a law banning non-residents of the Netherlands from purchasing cannabis, including in designated premises. An increasing number of municipalities are implementing this legislation.
Remember 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.
If you are arrested in The Netherlands, you will be informed of your rights. At any point, you can also request to speak with a Consular officer from the Embassy. The Embassy can provide you with a list of English-speaking lawyers, can arrange for your next of kin to be informed of your detention and can help you keep in contact with friends and family. However, the Embassy cannot provide legal advice, pay for a lawyer or interfere with local judicial proceedings.
FAQs Passports / Visa
FAQs Passports / Visa
Entry and exit
Irish citizens do not need a visa to enter The Netherlands, however non-EU citizens normally resident in Ireland with a spouse or family member may need a visa if travelling through The Netherlands to go on holiday abroad. They may also need a re-entry visa to return to Ireland even if you have legal residence in Ireland and a valid GNIB card. Please contact The Netherlands Embassy in Dublin on +353 (0)1 269 3444 for information on Schengen visas if you are travelling to or transiting through The Netherlands.
Frequently Asked Questions on Passports and (re-entry) Visas
I think I’ve lost my passport! What should I do?
- Look again – have someone else sift through your belongings with fresh eyes. Have a friend check your bag, pockets, drawers, safes, and suitcases. If you're at home, be sure to search the clothes you were wearing the last time you used your passport. Once your passport is reported lost, it can’t be used again even if you find it.
- Call the embassy – if you’re certain the passport is gone, contact the Embassy on 0031 70 306 7130. A staff member will tell you what you need to do to get a replacement document. You should also file a report with the nearest police station. A police report will be needed for a replacement travel document and also to make a claim on your travel insurance.
- If you are travelling to Ireland or the UK we can issue you with an emergency travel document. You must come to the Embassy in person as the emergency travel document cannot be emailed or delivered to you. Two passport photos, a police report, proof of travel and identification are needed in order for us to issue your new document. There will also be a fee for the document.
- Remember the Embassy is not in Amsterdam, it’s in The Hague, approximately 1.5 hours by train from Amsterdam, so you may need to review your travel plans to come to the Embassy.
- Some airlines will allow you to travel back to Ireland if you have other photo id and a report from the police, so check with your airline or call the Embassy.
- If you are travelling to countries other than Ireland or the UK, you will need a temporary passport. At present these are not available from the Embassy in The Hague. You will need to travel to our Embassy in Brussels. Our staff will advise you. Remember some countries won’t allow entry with a temporary passport for security reasons.
Can you email or deliver a new travel document to me?
No. You must come in person to the Embassy and bring two passport photos (for the new document), police report, proof of travel, the fee and identification.
I always carry my passport on nights out as proof of my age. Is that ok?
- Lots of people lose their passport when it falls out of pockets or bags. Your passport is an important document and should always be kept safe. Don’t carry it with you unless absolutely necessary – if you need to have carry personal ID, bring a photocopy of your passport or better still, apply for the PassportCard for travel within Europe - it’s only €15 and fits in a purse or wallet so it’s less likely to get lost.
- Email a photo of your passport and give additional paper copies of your passport to somebody at home who can send them to you if required.
- Other ID such as the Garda age card is available for just €10 at www.agecard.ie .
I’ve been travelling a lot in recent years and my passport is a bit worn looking. Is that ok?
- Normal wear or fading of the lettering on the cover should not be a problem. However if there is any damage or signs of tampering such as missing pages, or cracks on the photo page, you may have your passport taken from you by Dutch immigration. You will not be able to travel onward and will need to go to the Irish Embassy in The Hague for a temporary replacement document to get you back to Ireland or the UK.
- If you’re travelling elsewhere you may need a temporary passport. At present these are not available from the Embassy in The Hague. Our staff will advise you. You will need to travel to our Embassy in Brussels. Remember some countries won’t accept a temporary passport as it doesn’t have the same security data as a regular one.
I am a non-EU citizen who is resident in Ireland with my spouse/family member and will be travelling through Amsterdam to go on holiday abroad. Do I need a re-entry visa?
- Yes, since Ireland is not part of the Schengen travel area, anyone who (based on their nationality) normally requires a visa for The Netherlands or Schengen area would still require one. Legal residency in Ireland does not change this requirement. Please contact the Netherlands Embassy in Dublin on +353 (0)1 269 3444 for information on Schengen visas if you are travelling to or transiting through The Netherlands.
- Please also note that even if you have legal residency in Ireland and a valid GNIB card, you are required to have an Irish re-entry visa if you leave the State and wish to return (this applies only to those nationalities which are normally require a visa required to enter Ireland).
Any other tips?
- Plan ahead and check your passport expiry date before you book your holidays. Check the kids’ passports too as they expire more quickly than adult ones. You can sign up for a passport renewal reminder at https://www.eforms.gov.ie/en/reminder/passport/