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Netherlands - Take normal security precautions
Take normal security precautions in the Netherlands.
Safety and security
Safety and security
Violent crime rarely occurs in the Netherlands; however, petty crime (such as pickpocketing and bag snatching) occurs in the larger cities, particularly in Amsterdam, where it constitutes a major problem. Tourists are frequently victims of robbery. Be vigilant at all times and pay attention to your surroundings.
Thieves operate on trains and time their activities to coincide with train stops, which allow for a quick exit. Victims who resist have been physically assaulted. Be particularly cautious on trains to and from Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport and the corridor between Rotterdam Central Station and Amsterdam Central Station.
In Amsterdam, thieves are also active in restaurants and coffee shops, around the de Wallen district (the red-light district) and at Central Station, as well as on public transportation, especially tram routes 1, 2 and 5, between Central Station and the museum district.
Organized gangs of thieves often use distracting techniques. Typically, a member of the gang will soil the victim’s clothes or ask directions while others rob the victim.
Passports and other valuable documents are often stolen from youth hostels in Amsterdam.
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.
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, coffee shops, 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.
Since 2013, the Dutch government has maintained the threat level in the Netherlands at “substantial”. This is the second-highest level in the Netherlands’ four-level rating system. While stressing that there are no reliable indications that terrorist networks are currently plotting attacks in the Netherlands, the Dutch authorities raised their levels of vigilance given their assessment that there is a realistic possibility that an attack will take place in the Netherlands. Consult the Ministry of Security and Justice for more information on threat levels.
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.
Roads are excellent, although road congestion is common in areas around Amsterdam, The Hague and Rotterdam, where rail is a convenient alternative. There is a chronic lack of parking spaces throughout the country, and fines for illegal parking are severe.
Cyclists have priority over other traffic. Trams have priority except where signposted at major junctions and busses have priority when pulling out of bus stops. Unless otherwise signposted, vehicles coming from the right have priority. The centre lanes of many urban two-way streets are reserved for buses, trams and taxis.
Motorists and pedestrians must pay attention to cyclists and cycle paths.
Road Traffic Signs and Regulations in the Netherlands is a comprehensive guide published by the Ministry of Infrastructure and the Environment that answers all questions on rules for drivers and cyclists, signs, hand signals by traffic police, parking rules and much more.
Public transportation is excellent.
Taxi service is generally safe but expensive.
Rail is convenient in the areas of Amsterdam, The Hague and Rotterdam. Consult the Dutch website Holland by train for more information.
We do not make assessments on the compliance of foreign domestic airlines with international safety standards.
Demonstrations occur periodically in larger urban centres such as Amsterdam, Rotterdam and The Hague. Avoid all demonstrations and large gatherings as they have the potential to suddenly turn violent. Follow the advice of local authorities and monitor local media.
General safety information
Exercise normal safety precautions. Ensure that personal belongings and your passport and other travel documents are secure at all times. Do not carry valuables or large sums of money on your person. Do not leave baggage or personal belongings unattended in a vehicle at any time.
Dial 0900-8844 for the police (non-emergency)
The Victim Support Netherlands (Slachtofferhulp Nederland – SHN) service assists victims, witnesses or survivors after a crime, disappearance, accident or calamity. The SHN can be reached at 0900-0101 (press 1 for assistance).
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.
Customs officials will ask you to show them a return ticket and proof of sufficient funds for your stay.
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*
* The 90-day period begins upon initial entry into any country of the Schengen area. Stays are cumulative and include visits to any Schengen area country within any 180-day period.
Children and travel
Learn about travel with children.
Learn about potential entry requirements related to yellow fever (vaccines section).
- Measles in Europe - March 5, 2018
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 provider 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.
Outbreaks of measles are ongoing.
Measles is a highly contagious viral disease that can cause serious complications for some people.
You are at increased risk of measles infection if you have not had the illness or if you are not up to date on your vaccinations.
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.
* 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
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.
Medical services and facilities
Excellent medical facilities are widely available.
Make sure you get travel insurance that includes coverage for medical evacuation and hospital stays.
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
Laws & 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
It is a common misconception that the Netherlands is tolerant of soft drugs; however, in reality, penalties for possession, use or trafficking of illegal drugs (including hashish and marijuana) are strict. Convicted offenders can expect jail sentences and heavy fines.
To overcome public nuisance and crime, an increasing number of municipalities are enforcing existing legislation banning non-residents of the Netherlands from purchasing cannabis at licenced “coffee shops”.
You must be at least 18 years old to drive a car in the Netherlands. An International Driving Permit is recommended.
Penalties for drinking and driving are strict. The legal blood alcohol limit is 0.05 percent.
Traffic offences 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.
Dutch police have been known to hand out fines to pedestrians crossing the street on a red light.
The currency of the Netherlands is the euro (EUR).
Traveller’s cheques and credit cards are widely accepted, and automated banking machines are widely available.
When crossing one of the external border control points of the European Union (EU), you must make a declaration to customs upon entry or exit if you have at least €10,000, or the equivalent in other currencies. The sum can be in cash, cheques, money orders, traveller’s cheques or any other convertible assets. This does not apply if you are travelling within the EU or in transit to a non-EU country. For more information on the EU legislation and links to EU countries’ sites, visit the European Commission’s website on cash controls.
Natural disasters and climate
Natural disasters & climate
Flooding is a threat on coastal lands protected from the sea by dikes.
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. We take the safety and security of Canadians abroad very seriously and provide credible and timely information in our Travel Advice to enable you to make well-informed decisions regarding your travel abroad.
The content on this page is provided for information only. While we make every effort to give you correct information, it is provided on an "as is" basis without warranty of any kind, express or implied. The Government of Canada does not assume responsibility and will not be liable for any damages in connection to the information provided.
If you need consular assistance while abroad, we will make every effort to help you. However, there may be constraints that will limit the ability of the Government of Canada to provide services.
Learn more about consular services.
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