Last updated: ET
Still valid: ET
Latest updates: The Safety and security tab was updated – terrorism.
Netherlands - Exercise normal security precautions
There is no nationwide advisory in effect for the Netherlands. Exercise normal security precautions.
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.
On November 21, 2016, the U.S. Department of State issued a Travel Alert for Europe, alerting U.S. citizens to the “heightened risk of terrorist attacks throughout Europe, particularly during the holiday season” and advising them to “exercise vigilance when attending large holiday events, visiting tourist sites, using public transportation, and frequenting places of worship, restaurants, hotels, etc.”
There is a threat of terrorism in Europe. Terrorist attacks could occur at any time and could target areas frequented by expatriates and foreign travellers, such as tourist attractions, restaurants, bars, coffee shops, shopping centres, markets, hotels, schools, places of worship and airports and other transportation hubs. Exercise caution if attending sporting events, religious holiday celebrations and other public festivities. Remain vigilant at all times, monitor local media and follow the advice of local authorities.
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.
The Government of Canada does not assess foreign domestic airlines’ compliance with international aviation safety standards. See Foreign domestic airlines for more information.
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) or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
It is the sole prerogative of every country or territory to determine who is allowed to enter or exit. Canadian consular officials cannot intervene on your behalf if you do not meet entry or exit requirements. The following information has been obtained from the Dutch authorities and is subject to change at any time. The country- or territory-specific entry/exit requirements are provided on this page for information purposes only. While every effort is made to provide accurate information, information contained here is provided on an "as is" basis without warranty of any kind, express or implied. The Government of Canada assumes no responsibility, and shall not be liable for any damages in connection to the information provided. It is your responsibility to check with the Royal Netherlands Embassy or one of its consulates for up-to-date information.
Customs officials will ask you to show them a return ticket and proof of sufficient funds for your stay.
The Netherlands are a Schengen area country. Upon arrival, Canadians are required to present a passport that must be valid for at least three months beyond the date of expected departure from the Schengen area. Prior to travelling, ask your transportation company about its requirements related to passport validity, which may be more stringent than the country's entry rules.
Temporary passport holders may be subject to different entry requirements. Check with diplomatic representatives for up-to-date information.
Official (special and diplomatic) passport holders must consult the Official Travel page, as they may be subject to different entry requirements.
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.
Canadians do not need a visa for travel to countries within the Schengen area for stays of up to 90 days in any 180-day period. Stays are cumulative and include visits to any country within the Schengen area. If you plan to stay in the Schengen area for longer than the 90 days in any 180-day period, you must contact the high commission or embassy of the country or countries you are travelling to and obtain the appropriate visa prior to travel. For more information, see Schengen area.
Children and travel
Children need special documentation to visit certain countries. See Children for more information.
See Health to obtain information on this country’s vaccination requirements.
- Measles: Global Update - July 28, 2016 00:00 EDT
- Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV) - July 12, 2016 00:00 EDT
Be sure that your routine vaccines are up-to-date regardless of your travel destination.
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.
Measles is a highly contagious viral disease and is common in most parts of the world. Be sure your measles vaccination is up-to-date regardless of your travel destination.
Yellow Fever Vaccination
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.
|* 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.|
|Country Entry Requirement*|
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.
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 are subject to local laws. See Arrest and detention for more information.
Canada and the Netherlands are signatories to the Convention on the Transfer of Sentenced Persons (Council of Europe). 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. However, Canadian officials may be limited in their ability to provide you with consular services if local authorities consider you a Dutch citizen. You should always travel using your valid Canadian passport and present yourself as Canadian to foreign authorities at all times to minimize this risk. You may also need to carry and present a Dutch passport for legal reasons, for example to enter and exit the country (see Entry/exit requirements to determine passport requirements). Citizenship is determined solely by national laws, and the decision to recognize dual citizenship rests completely with the country in which you are located when seeking consular assistance. See Travelling as a dual citizen for more information.
You must carry adequate identification at all times if you are over the age of 14. Anyone failing to show appropriate identification to law enforcement authorities upon request may be fined. Valid passports, Dutch residence permits and driving licences issued in the Netherlands or elsewhere in the European Union and the European Economic Area are considered acceptable. Keep a photocopy of your passport in case of loss or seizure.
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.
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.
Same-sex marriage is legal.
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. 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.
- Date modified: