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Netherlands - Exercise a high degree of caution
Exercise a high degree of caution in Netherlands due to the current elevated threat of terrorism.
Safety and security
Petty crime (such as pickpocketing and bag snatching) occurs in the larger cities, particularly in Amsterdam. Thieves often target tourists. Be vigilant at all times and pay attention to your surroundings.
Thieves operate on trains. They time their activities to coincide with train stops, which allows for a quick exit.
If you are the victim of an armed robbery, do not resist. Attackers have sometimes assaulted their victims for failing to comply or not complying quickly enough.
Home burglaries occur, particularly in larger cities during the winter holiday period. Thieves will often watch a property and break in when they know the residents are away.
Ensure that personal belongings, including your passport and other travel documents, are secure at all times. Do not carry valuables or large sums of money on your person. Never leave baggage or personal belongings unattended.
Thieves are typically active in:
- restaurants and cafés
- establishments that sell soft drugs (locally referred to as coffee shops)
- tourist attractions, including around the de Wallen district (the red-light district)
- Central Station
- public transportation, particularly tram routes 1, 2 and 5, between Central Station and the museum district in Amsterdam
Organized groups of thieves often use distracting techniques. Typically, a member of the group will distract someone by spilling something on them or asking for directions, while others rob the victim. Always be alert and be particularly cautious on trains.
Travellers have had their passports and other valuable documents stolen in hostels.
Filing a police report
Report the loss or theft of identification documents immediately to the nearest police station. Obtain a copy of the police report, keep it on your person and apply for a replacement document as soon as possible.
To file a police report, authorities in certain jurisdictions require your passport or at least a copy. Before you go, make sure to make a photocopy to bring with you or keep a digital copy of your passport.
Spiked food and drinks
Never leave food or drinks unattended or in the care of strangers. Be wary of accepting snacks, beverages, gum or cigarettes from new acquaintances, as they may contain drugs that could put you at risk of sexual assault and robbery. Such incidents have been reported.
There is a threat of terrorism in Europe. Terrorists have carried out attacks in several European cities and further attacks are likely.
Targets could include:
- government buildings, including schools
- places of worship
- airports and other transportation hubs and networks
- public areas such as tourist attractions, hotels, restaurants, bars, cafés, shopping centres, markets and other sites frequented by foreigners
Always be aware of your surroundings when in public places. Be particularly vigilant if attending sporting events and during religious holidays and other public celebrations, as terrorists have used such occasions to mount attacks.
The Dutch government maintains a public alert system on terrorism and communicates threat level changes online and through local media (including social media).
Current terrorism threat levels - Dutch Ministry of Security and Justice
Roads conditions and road safety are excellent throughout the country.
Be cautious when driving and keep the following in mind:
- cyclists have priority over other traffic
- trams have priority except where signposted at major junctions
- busses have priority when pulling out of bus stops
- unless otherwise signposted, vehicles coming from the right have priority
Whether you’re driving or on foot, pay attention to cyclists and when crossing bike paths. While on foot, make sure you’re not inadvertently walking on a bike path. These commonly run alongside sidewalks and are not always clearly marked.
Trams sometimes share pedestrian streets. Always be alert when walking near tram rails.
We do not make assessments on the compliance of foreign domestic airlines with international safety standards.
General information about foreign domestic airlines
Demonstrations take place from time to time in major cities. Even peaceful demonstrations can turn violent at any time. They can also lead to disruptions to traffic and public transportation.
- Avoid areas where demonstrations and large gatherings are taking place
- Follow the instructions of local authorities
- Monitor local media for information on ongoing demonstrations
More about mass gatherings (large-scale events)
Every country or territory decides who can enter or exit through its borders. The Government of Canada cannot intervene on your behalf if you do not meet your destination’s entry or exit requirements.
We have obtained the information on this page from the Dutch authorities. It can, however, change at any time.
Verify this information with foreign diplomatic missions and consulates in Canada.
The Netherlands is a Schengen area country. Canadian citizens do not need a visa for travel to countries within the Schengen area. However, visa-free travel only applies to stays of up to 90 days in any 180-day period. Stays are cumulative and include visits to any Schengen area country.
If you plan to stay in the Schengen area for a longer period of time, you will need a visa. You must contact the high commission or embassy of the country or countries you are travelling to and obtain the appropriate visa(s) prior to travel.
Entry requirements vary depending on the type of passport you use for travel.
Before you travel, check with your transportation company about passport requirements. Its rules on passport validity may be more stringent than the country’s entry rules.
Regular Canadian passport
Your passport must be valid for at least 3 months beyond the date you expect to leave the Schengen area.
Passport for official travel
Different entry rules may apply.
Other travel documents
Different entry rules may apply when travelling with a temporary passport or an emergency travel document. Before you leave, check with the closest diplomatic mission for your destination.
Tourist visa: Not required for stays up to 90 days
Business visa: Not required for stays up to 90 days
Student visa: Not required for stays up to 90 days
Other entry requirements
Customs officials will ask you to show them a return ticket and proof of sufficient funds for your stay.
Children and travel
Learn about travel with children.
Learn about potential entry requirements related to yellow fever (vaccines section).
Be sure that your routine vaccines, as per your province or territory, are up-to-date regardless of your travel destination.
Some of these vaccines include: measles-mumps-rubella (MMR), diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, polio, varicella (chickenpox), influenza and others.
Vaccines to Consider
You may be at risk for these vaccine-preventable diseases while travelling in this country. Talk to your travel health professional about which ones are right for you.
Hepatitis B is a disease of the liver spread through blood or other bodily fluids. Travellers who may be exposed (e.g., through sexual contact, medical treatment, sharing needles, tattooing, acupuncture or occupational exposure) should get vaccinated.
Seasonal influenza occurs worldwide. The flu season usually runs from November to April in the northern hemisphere, between April and October in the southern hemisphere and year round in the tropics. Influenza (flu) is caused by a virus spread from person to person when they cough or sneeze or by touching objects and surfaces that have been contaminated with the virus. Get the flu shot.
Measles is a highly contagious viral disease. It can spread quickly from person to person by direct contact and through droplets in the air.
Anyone who is not protected against measles is at risk of being infected with it when travelling internationally.
Regardless of where you are going, talk to a health care professional before travelling to make sure you are fully protected against measles.
Yellow Fever - Country Entry Requirements
Yellow fever is a disease caused by a flavivirus from the bite of an infected mosquito.
Travellers get vaccinated either because it is required to enter a country or because it is recommended for their protection.
- There is no risk of yellow fever in this country.
Country Entry Requirement*
- Proof of vaccination is not required to enter this country.
- Vaccination is not recommended.
About Yellow Fever
Yellow Fever Vaccination Centres in Canada
* It is important to note that country entry requirements may not reflect your risk of yellow fever at your destination. It is recommended that you contact the nearest diplomatic or consular office of the destination(s) you will be visiting to verify any additional entry requirements.
Food and Water-borne Diseases
Travellers to any destination in the world can develop travellers' diarrhea from consuming contaminated water or food.
Practise safe food and water precautions while travelling in Western Europe. When in doubt, remember…boil it, cook it, peel it, or leave it!
Insects and Illness
In some areas in Western Europe, certain insects carry and spread diseases like Lyme disease, tick-borne encephalitis, and West Nile virus.
Travellers are advised to take precautions against bites.
There is no risk of malaria in this country.
Animals and Illness
Travellers are cautioned to avoid contact with animals, including dogs, snakes, rodents, birds, and bats. Certain infections found in some areas in Western Europe, like rabies, can be shared between humans and animals.
Crowded conditions can increase your risk of certain illnesses. Remember to wash your hands often and practice proper cough and sneeze etiquette to avoid colds, the flu and other illnesses.
Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and HIV are spread through blood and bodily fluids; practise safer sex.
Medical services and facilities
Health care is excellent. Service is available throughout the country.
Make sure you get travel insurance that includes coverage for medical evacuation and hospital stays.
Travel health and safety
Keep in Mind...
The decision to travel is the sole responsibility of the traveller. The traveller is also responsible for his or her own personal safety.
Be prepared. Do not expect medical services to be the same as in Canada. Pack a travel health kit, especially if you will be travelling away from major city centres.
Laws and culture
You must abide by local laws.
Learn about what you should do and how we can help if you are arrested or detained abroad.
Canada and the Netherlands are signatories to the Convention on the Transfer of Sentenced Persons. This enables a Canadian imprisoned in the Netherlands to request a transfer to a Canadian prison to complete a sentence. The transfer requires the agreement of both Canadian and Dutch authorities.
Dual citizenship is legally recognized in the Netherlands, but only in certain cases.
If you are a Canadian citizen, but also a citizen of the Netherlands, our ability to offer you consular services may be limited while you're there. You may also be subject to different entry/exit requirements.
- More about dual nationality - Government of the Netherlands
- General information for travellers with dual citizenship
You must carry valid identification at all times if you are over the age of 14. Law enforcement authorities may fine you if you fail to show them appropriate identification upon request.
The following documents, if valid, are acceptable identification:
- Dutch residence permits
- driver’s licences issued in the Netherlands or elsewhere in the European Union and the European Economic Area
Keep photocopies or digital copies of the following documents in case they are lost or seized:
- the identification page of your passport
- your birth certificate
- your Canadian citizenship card
- your driver’s licence
Keep originals and copies in separate, safe locations.
Penalties for possession, use or trafficking of illegal drugs are severe. Convicted offenders can expect jail sentences and heavy fines.
Despite a common misconception, soft drugs like marijuana are controlled substances. Some establishments (locally known as coffee shops) are allowed to sell soft drugs for personal use, but there are restrictions in place:
- the establishment must be licenced
- buyers must be residents of the Netherlands (in certain municipalities)
You could face a jail sentence and heavy fines for:
- attempting to travel in or out of the Netherlands with soft drugs (eve if for personal use)
- using drugs outside licensed establishments
- attempting to buy drugs at a licensed establishment but you’re not a resident of the Netherlands
You must be at least 18 years old to drive a car in the Netherlands.
You should carry an international driving permit.
Penalties for drinking and driving are severe. The legal blood alcohol limit is 0.05 percent.
Traffic offences and parking violations can carry heavy, on-the-spot fines. If you are fined, always ask for a receipt.
The use of cellular telephones while driving is prohibited, unless they are fitted with a hands-free device.
- More about the International Driving Permit
- More information about driving in the Netherlands - European Commission
The currency of the Netherlands is the euro (EUR).
Credit cards are not widely accepted. Make sure you have access to enough cash to cover expenses during your trip.
ATMs are widely available. You will generally be able to withdraw funds using a Canadian bank or credit card that is equipped with chip technology.
If you are carrying more than €10,000 or the equivalent in other currencies, you must make a declaration to customs upon your entry or exit to the European Union. The sum can be in cash, cheque, money order, traveller’s cheque or any other convertible asset. This does not apply if you are travelling within the European Union or in transit to a non-EU country.
More information about cash controls - European Commission
Natural disasters and climate
Flooding is a threat on coastal lands protected from the sea by dikes.
Along with flooding, strong winds can occur, particularly during winter months. If severe wind storms are expected or do occur, the Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute will issue warnings on a national or regional basis on their website.
More information and latest warnings - Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute (warnings only in Dutch)
Dial 112 for emergency assistance.
The Hague - Embassy of Canada
For emergency consular assistance, call the Embassy of Canada in The Hague and follow the instructions. At any time, you may also contact the Emergency Watch and Response Centre in Ottawa.
The decision to travel is your choice and you are responsible for your personal safety abroad. The Government of Canada takes the safety and security of Canadians abroad very seriously and provides credible and timely information in its Travel Advice to enable you to make well-informed decisions regarding your travel abroad. In the event of a large-scale emergency, every effort will be made to provide assistance. However, there may be constraints that will limit the ability of the Government of Canada to provide services.
See Large-scale emergencies abroad for more information.
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