Netherlands Country Report
The Netherlands (population 17 million) is a generally safe destination and does not present any additional risks to travelers beyond what is to be expected in any Western European country.
However, as with all Western countries, as of 2017, there is a threat of Islamist terrorism. More than 250 Dutch citizens are believed to have left the country to fight with terrorist groups like Islamic State (IS) in Iraq and Syria; some observers fear that these individuals could launch attacks in the Netherlands after returning home.
Petty crime remains an issue in urban areas, particularly in Amsterdam (in the Red Light District and areas around the train station and airport) and Rotterdam. Pickpocketing and purse-snatching, often by organized gangs, are common. Usually, the victim is distracted by one of the offenders while another steals the victim's belongings. This threat is particularly present on trains between Amsterdam's central station and Schiphol airport, as well as those between Amsterdam's central station and Rotterdam. In Amsterdam, it is also advised to be careful aboard trams, where theft also commonly occurs. Sleeping riders are often targeted by thieves who board between stops.
In restaurants or cafés, especially those with outdoor seating, it is recommended to keep a close eye on personal belongings due to the threat of theft, especially if someone approaches and talks to you, pretending to be looking for someone or to sell you something.
If a theft occurs, immediately contact a police officer. However, be careful of criminals dressed as police officers asking for cash or bank cards as part of their investigation. Real police officers in the street very rarely make this kind of request. Do not hesitate to ask to verify the officer's identity or to go to the police station with him or her.
Amsterdam and Rotterdam both have certain suburbs that should be avoided. While in tourist areas, use basic common sense to protect yourself (e.g., keep an eye on belongings, store valuable objects and important papers in a safe location, be particularly vigilant after nightfall, etc.).
Individuals should be very careful not to leave their food or drink out of sight and should never accept cigarettes, food, or drink from strangers.
There are significant social and intercommunity tensions that persist in the country. Recent protests against police brutality occurred over several nights in The Hague in July 2015 after an Aruban man died in police custody. Several hundred people were arrested after throwing items at police and committing acts of vandalism.
Protests are regularly organized in large cities like Amsterdam, Rotterdam, and The Hague (Den Haag). Although the Netherlands is a peaceful country and most demonstrations end peacefully, violence is not unheard of. In December 2015, riots broke out in Geldermalsen against plans to build a refugee center in the area.
Coastal regions and zones situated below sea level are particularly vulnerable to flooding.
The country's road network is very good, dense, and free. However, roads are often gridlocked due to the large number of trucks on major roadways.
Drives are advised to be aware of the numerous cyclists who use the country's roadways, particularly in urban centers, and to be cautious of cyclists traveling in the opposite direction of traffic. Driving while intoxicated is severely punished. Fines resultant from traffic violations must be paid immediately. If you do not have cash with you, police officers will not hesitate to take you to the closest ATM.
Public transportation is very well developed in the country and has priority over individual drivers. However, trains are often late. Trams have priority on roadways and do not hesitate to take it.
It is essential to take out a health insurance policy before departure that covers healthcare abroad as well as medical evacuation and repatriation.
The Netherlands has a very good healthcare infrastructure.
The Netherlands is part of the European Union and uses the euro as its national currency. It is also a member of the visa and border checkpoint-free Schengen Area. However, Dutch overseas territories (Curaçao, Sint Maarten, Aruba, Bonaire, Saba, and Sint Eustatius) are not a part of the Schengen Area.
Drug use is severely punished by law. Contrary to popular belief, the use of cannabis (maximum 5 g) is only authorized in specific places (e.g. particular coffee shops) of big cities. Owning and consuming drugs outside of these boundaries is strictly forbidden and can lead to strong penalties that may include prison sentences.
Dutch law requires individuals to have identity papers at all times. Dutch authorities may consider your identity papers invalid if they are not in acceptable condition.
Netherlands experiences a temperate oceanic climate which becomes slightly more continental as you travel inland. Winters are moderate and summers cool. Weather can change quickly. Fog, drizzle, and rain are common and winds can be violent along the coast. Average temperatures fluctuate between 2.2°C (winter) and 16.6°C (summer). Average annual rainfall is 760 mm.
Useful NumbersCountry Code: +31 Police: 112 Fire Dept.: 112 Ambulance: 112
Voltage: 230 V ~ 50 Hz
Northern Europe: Snow to cause disruptions Feb. 9
TIMEFRAME: from 2/9/2018, 12:00 AM until 2/11/2018, 11:59 PM (Europe/Paris).
COUNTRY/REGION: France, Belgium, Netherlands
Netherlands: Suspect killed by police in Amsterdam Jan. 26
TIMEFRAME: from 1/26/2018, 12:00 AM until 1/29/2018, 11:59 PM (Europe/Amsterdam).