- We advise you to exercise normal safety precautions in the Netherlands.
- Exercise common sense and look out for suspicious behaviour, as you would in Australia.
- In the past, terrorist attacks have occurred in a number of European cities, such as Glasgow, London, Madrid, and Moscow. 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, underscoring the continuing interest of terrorists in attacking European locations.
- In March 2013, the Dutch Government raised its national terrorism threat level from ‘limited’ to ‘substantial’ indicating that there is a realistic possibility that an attack will take place in the Netherlands.
- Be a smart traveller. Before heading overseas:
- organise comprehensive travel insurance and check what circumstances and activities are not covered by your policy
- register your travel and contact details, so we can contact you in an emergency
- subscribe to this travel advice to receive free e-mail updates each time it's reissued.
Entry and exit
Visa and other entry and exit conditions (such as currency, customs and quarantine regulations) change regularly. Contact the nearest Embassy or Consulate of Netherlands for the most up to date information.
The Netherlands is a party to the Schengen Convention which allows Australians to enter the Netherlands without a visa in some circumstances. See our travel bulletin on the Schengen Convention for more information.
People travelling directly to or from a country outside the European Union (EU) carrying 10,000 Euros or more (or the equivalent amount in another currency) are required to declare the cash at the place of their arrival or departure from the EU. Under the legislation, the term "cash" includes cheques, travellers' cheques and money orders. Travellers failing to declare the cash or providing incomplete or incorrect information will incur a fine. There is no requirement to declare cash for people travelling to or from another EU country.
Make sure your passport has at least six months’ validity from your planned date of return to Australia. You should carry copies of a recent passport photo with you in case you need a replacement passport while overseas.
Safety and security
On 13 March 2013, the Dutch Government raised its national terrorism threat level from ‘limited’ to ‘substantial’ indicating that there is a realistic possibility that an attack will take place in the Netherlands. For further details see The Netherlands' National Coordinator for Counterterrorism website.
In the past, terrorist attacks have occurred in a number of European cities, such as Glasgow, London, Madrid, and Moscow. 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, underscoring the continuing interest of terrorists in attacking European locations.
Terrorism is a threat throughout the world. You can find more information about this threat in our General advice to Australian travellers.
Civil unrest/Political tension
Australians are advised to avoid all demonstrations, protests and rallies, as they may turn violent, and to remain informed of potential risks to safety and security by monitoring media and other local information sources.
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, at Central Station and on public transport. There are frequent reports of bag snatching on trains and trams, including those that operate through Schiphol Airport (the Netherlands' major international airport at Amsterdam). Laptop computers are an attractive target for thieves operating on public transport systems. Do not carry passports and other valuable possessions in a laptop bag.
Thieves usually operate in pairs, with one attempting to distract you while the other steals your possessions. People using automatic teller machines (ATMs) are increasingly being targeted by thieves, especially around nightclubs and bars.
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. Do not leave drinks unattended or accept drinks from strangers.
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. For more information, see our International scams page.
Money and valuables
Before you go, organise a variety of ways to access your money overseas, such as credit cards, travellers' cheques, cash, debit cards or cash cards. Australian currency and travellers' cheques are not accepted in many countries. Consult with your bank to find out whether your ATM card will work in the Netherlands.
Make two photocopies of valuable documents such as your passport, tickets, visas and travellers' cheques. Keep one copy with you in a separate place to the original and leave another copy with someone at home.
While travelling, don't carry too much cash and remember that expensive watches, jewellery and cameras may be tempting targets for thieves.
As a sensible precaution against luggage tampering, including theft, lock your luggage. Information on luggage safety is available from Australia's Civil Aviation Safety Authority.
Your passport is a valuable document that is attractive to criminals who may try to use your identity to commit crimes. It should always be kept in a safe place. You are required by Australian law to report a lost or stolen passport. If your passport is lost or stolen overseas, report it online or contact the nearest Australian Embassy, High Commission or Consulate as soon as possible.
You are required to pay an additional fee to have a lost or stolen passport replaced. In some cases, the Government may also restrict the length of validity or type of replacement passports.
Holders of current Australian driving licences may drive in the Netherlands for 185 days from their date of arrival in the Netherlands. After this period a Dutch licence is required.
The minimum age for driving a car is 18.
Motorists should be aware that trams, cyclists and mopeds have right of way. The Dutch drive on the right and priority is given to traffic and cyclists approaching from the right, unless otherwise indicated. Local legislation requires drivers to be in possession of a warning triangle and fluorescent jackets for occupants of the vehicle in case of breakdown. For further advice on road safety, see our road travel page.
Please refer to our air travel page for information on aviation safety and security.
When you are in the Netherlands, be aware that local laws and penalties, including ones that appear harsh by Australian standards, do apply to you. If you are arrested or jailed, the Australian Government will do what it can to help you but we can't get you out of trouble or out of jail.
Information on what Australian consular officers can and cannot do to help Australians in trouble overseas is available from the Consular Services Charter.
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.
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”) 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.
Australian travellers are reminded 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. See our Partying overseas page.
Possession and trafficking of illegal drugs or any narcotics, including psychoactive mushrooms, will attract criminal penalties. See our Drugs page.
Some Australian criminal laws, such as those relating to money laundering, bribery of foreign public officials, terrorism, forced marriage, female genital mutilation, child pornography, and child sex tourism, apply to Australians overseas. Australians who commit these offences while overseas may be prosecuted in Australia.
Australian authorities are committed to combating sexual exploitation of children by Australians overseas. Australians may be prosecuted at home under Australian child sex tourism and child pornography laws. These laws provide severe penalties of up to 25 years’ imprisonment for Australians who engage in child sexual exploitation while outside of Australia.
Information for dual nationals
Our Dual nationals page provides information for dual nationals.
We strongly recommend that you take out comprehensive travel insurance that will cover any overseas medical costs, including medical evacuation, before you depart. Confirm that your insurance covers you for the whole time you'll be away and check what circumstances and activities are not included in your policy. 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.
It is important to consider your physical and mental health before travelling overseas. We encourage you to consider having vaccinations before you travel. At least eight weeks before you depart, make an appointment with your doctor or travel clinic for a basic health check-up, and to discuss your travel plans and any implications for your health, particularly if you have an existing medical condition. The World Health Organization (WHO) provides information for travellers and our health page also provides useful information for travellers on staying healthy.
Medical facilities and care are comparable with those in Australia; however medical costs in the Netherlands are high.
There is a Reciprocal Health Agreement between Australia and the Netherlands which provides for urgent or emergency medical treatment in the public hospital system. Treatment in private hospitals or as a private patient in a public hospital is not covered under the Agreement, nor does the Agreement provide treatment to Australians entering the Netherlands with the specific intention of obtaining medical treatment. The Reciprocal Health Care Agreement does not replace the need for private travel health insurance. See Medicare's website for further information.
Where to get help
The emergency services telephone number in the Netherlands is 112.
In the Netherlands, you can obtain consular assistance from the:
Australian Embassy, The Hague
2517 KH The Hague
Telephone (31 70) 310 8200
Facsimile (31 70) 310 8250
If you are travelling to the Netherlands, whatever the reason and however long you'll be there, we encourage you to register with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. You can register online or in person at any Australian Embassy, High Commission or Consulate. The information you provide will help us to contact you in an emergency - whether it is a natural disaster, civil disturbance or a family issue.
In a consular emergency if you are unable to contact the above Embassy you can contact the 24-hour Consular Emergency Centre on +61 2 6261 3305 or 1300 555 135 within Australia.
In Australia, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade in Canberra may be contacted on (02) 6261 3305.
For general information and tips on travelling with children see our Travelling with children page.