The Netherlands is the main constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. It is a small, densely populated country located in Western Europe with three island territories in the Caribbean.


The European part of the Netherlands borders Germany to the east, Belgium to the south, and the North Sea to the northwest, sharing maritime borders with Belgium, the United Kingdom and Germany. The largest and most important cities in the Netherlands are Amsterdam, The Hague and Rotterdam. Amsterdam is the country’s capital, while The Hague holds the Dutch seat of government and parliament. The port of Rotterdam is the largest port in Europe – as large as the next three largest combined – and was the world’s largest port between 1962 and 2004. The name Holland is also frequently used to refer informally to the whole of the country of the Netherlands.

Via Wikipedia

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Speed Limits

(Standard legal limits, which may be varied by signs, for private vehicles without trailers)

  • Built-up areas 31 mph (50 km/h)
  • Outside built-up areas 49 mph (80 km/h) or 62 mph (100 km/h)
  • Motorways 80 mph (130 km/h) (minimum 37 mph (60 km/h))
Licence / Insurance

Driving License

You must be at least 18 years old to drive a temporarily imported car or motorcycle.


Motor Insurance

You must at least have third-party motor insurance cover.

  • Unleaded petrol (95 and 98 octane), diesel and LPG (Autogas) are available.
  • Leaded petrol is not available but you can buy lead substitute petrol as ‘super’ 98 octane. You may carry petrol in a can but must not do on board a ferry.
  • Credit cards are accepted at most filling stations but you should check with your card issuer for use in the Netherlands before travel.

Snow tyres marked M&S are recommended on roads covered with ice or snow. These tyres must have minimum tread depth of 3.5mm.


Pay-as-you-go tolls are charged on most motorways in France. You can pay toll fees by credit card or cash.

Other Requirements

We recommend that you always carry a warning triangle because you must use one and/or hazard warning lights in case of an accident or breakdown.

You must give way to buses leaving bus stops in built-up areas.

You must give way to trams unless traffic lights indicate otherwise.

Beware of large numbers of cyclists and skaters.

You must not use spiked tyres.

You must not use a radar detector and if you are caught using such a device by the police it will be confiscated and you will be fined €430.

Travel Advice

Entry Requirements

You need a valid passport to visit the Netherlands and the Department of Foreign Affairs advise you to take a number of photocopies of your passport with you. During your stay you should carry a photocopy of your passport at all times.

Local Laws & Customs


Under Dutch law, anyone over the age of 14 is 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.


Travelling with Children

While there are no laws prohibiting the travel of a minor with only one parent or guardian, it has been noted that border control authorities pay particular attention to minors travelling under these circumstances. You may be asked to present a ‘Permission to Travel’ form completed by the parent not travelling, as well as other documents. Follow this link for further information and to download a ‘Permission to Travel’ form.


Credit cards

The use of credit cards is not as widespread as in Ireland and you should check before making a purchase that they accept your brand of credit card. Where credit cards are accepted, you may be asked to produce photo ID.



The legal minimum age for drinking alcohol in The Netherlands has been revised and is now 18.


Illegal drugs

Contrary to popular belief, so-called soft drugs are not legal in The Netherlands. However, the purchase and personal use of drugs such as cannabis is 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.

Remember 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.



If you are arrested in The Netherlands, you will be informed of your rights. At any point, you can also request to speak with a Consular officer from the Embassy. The Embassy can provide you with a list of English-speaking lawyers, can arrange for your next of kin to be informed of your detention and can help you keep in contact with friends and family. However, the Embassy cannot provide legal advice, pay for a lawyer or interfere with local judicial proceedings.

European Health Insurance Card

The Department of Foreign Affairs advise you to get a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) before you travel to France. This card replaces the E111 form and entitles you to emergency medical treatment on the same terms as French nationals.

The EHIC is not a substitute for travel insurance and doesn’t cover medical repatriation, ongoing medical treatment or treatment of a non-urgent nature. Therefore they also recommend that comprehensive private medical insurance is still obtained before travelling as the EHIC covers emergency treatment in public hospitals only. You can apply for an EHIC online at

Emergency Assistance

The best help is often close at hand so if you have problems, try talking to your local contacts, tour operator representative or hotel management. You can contact the emergency services in the Netherlands by dialling 112.


Our tips for Safe Travels:

  • Purchase comprehensive travel insurance which covers all your intended activities.
  • Get a European Health Insurance Card
  • Register your details with us so that we can contact you quickly if there’s an unforeseen crisis like a natural disaster or a family emergency.
  • Follow them on twitter @dfatravel for the latest travel updates.
  • Read their ‘Know Before You Go’ guide.

They advise you to take normal safety precautions.



Since March 2013, the Dutch Government has maintained its national terrorism threat level at ‘substantial’. This is the second highest of four levels, and means that ‘there is a real chance of an attack’. You should remain vigilant in public places and report any suspicious activity to police.


Public transport

Public transport is efficient and relatively inexpensive. You can usually pay the driver in cash, however, a travel card (the OVChipkaart) is the cheapest option and can be purchased at any train station. Remember to tag on when you board and tag off when you leave the train, tram or bus. Live travel information for all trains, trams and buses is available on

Security personnel regularly inspect tickets and failure to pay your fare may result in a large fine or arrest.

Keep your luggage with you as theft of unattended bags is not unusual.


Bicycles and mopeds

Cycling is one of the most popular forms of transport in the Netherlands. In both urban and rural areas there is an extensive network of dedicated lanes (often paved with red tiles), next to the footpaths, for bicycles and mopeds. Don’t walk in the cycle lanes.

Bicycles and mopeds are frequently allowed to travel in either direction on one-way roads, and are given priority at many junctions. Take care when you’re crossing roads and watch out for all forms of traffic – trams, bicycles, cars and mopeds – and, when driving, watch out for cyclists.


Hiring a vehicle

If you’re hiring a vehicle, we advise you not to hand over your passport as a form of security. If you’re allowing your passport to be photocopied, keep it in your sight at all times.

Check that you have adequate insurance and read the small print of the vehicle hire contract (particularly any waiver that will come into effect if the vehicle is damaged).



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, on public transport and at transport hubs. Take particular care in central Amsterdam (especially Centraal Station), in Schiphol (Amsterdam) airport, and on the trains between Schiphol airport and Amsterdam city.

There are reports of bag snatching on trains and trams, including those that operate through Schiphol (Amsterdam) Airport. Thieves sometimes operate in pairs, with one attempting to distract you while the other steals your possessions. People using automatic teller machines (ATMs) around nightclubs and bars are frequent targets.

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.

  • Don’t carry your passport when out unless absolutely necessary and leave a copy of your passport (and travel and insurance documents) with family or friends at home.
  • Don’t carry your credit card, travel tickets and money together – leave your passport, spare cash and valuables in a safe place.
  • Incidents of drink spiking have been reported. Do not accept drinks from strangers or leave drinks unattended.


Reporting a crime

If you’re a victim of a crime while in The Netherlands, report it to the local police immediately. Most Dutch police (“Politie” in Dutch) speak excellent English. You can also contact us at the Irish Embassy in The Hague if you need assistance.