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Travel Warning & Consular Information Sheet for Netherlands

The Netherlands - Consular Information Sheet
September 24, 2001

COUNTRY DESCRIPTION: The Netherlands is a highly-developed, stable democracy.

ENTRY REQUIREMENTS: A passport is required. A visa is not required for U.S. citizens for visits up to 90 days. For further information on entry requirements for the Netherlands, travelers may contact the Embassy of the Netherlands at 4200 Linnean Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20008, telephone (202) 244-5300, or the Dutch consulate in Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, New York, or San Francisco. Additional information is available at http://www.netherlands-embassy.org and the Netherlands Bureau for Tourism in New York at http://www.goholland.com.

In an effort to prevent international child abduction, many governments have initiated procedures at entry/exit points. These often include requiring documentary evidence of relationship and permission for the child's travel from the parent(s) or legal guardian not present. Having such documentation on hand, even if not required, may facilitate entry/departure.

SAFETY AND SECURITY: Prior police approval is required for public demonstrations in the Netherlands, and police oversight is routinely provided to ensure adequate security for participants and passers-by. Nonetheless, situations may develop which could pose a threat to public safety. U.S. citizens are advised to avoid areas in which public demonstrations are taking place.

CRIME: While the rate of violent crime in the Netherlands is low, tourists are occasionally targeted, usually in conjunction with robbery attempts. Visitors to larger cities frequently fall prey to pickpockets, bag snatchers, and other petty thieves. While thieves may operate anywhere, the U.S. Consulate General in Amsterdam receives frequent reports of thefts from several specific areas:

The train from Schiphol Airport to Amsterdam Central Station is particularly plagued by thieves, who often work in pairs. In those instances, one thief distracts the victim, often by asking for directions, while an accomplice moves in on the victim's momentarily unguarded handbag, backpack, or briefcase. The thieves typically time their thefts to coincide with train stops so they may quickly exit.

Within Amsterdam, thieves are very active in and around the Central Train Station, the WTC/Zuid Train/Tram Station, the red light district, in restaurants, hotels, and on public transportation, especially trams 1, 2, and 5 between the Central Station and the Museum District.

Throughout the Netherlands, thefts of bicycles and of personal belongings (such as briefcases and computer bags) from automobiles are very common.

The loss or theft of a U.S. passport should be reported immediately to local police and the nearest
U.S. embassy or consulate. If your U.S. passport is lost or stolen while you are in the Netherlands, please contact the U.S. Consulate General in Amsterdam for information about passport replacement. U.S. citizens may refer to the Department of State's pamphlet, A Safe Trip Abroad, for ways to promote a more trouble-free journey. The pamphlet is available by mail from the Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C. 20402, via the Internet at http://www.access.gpo.gov/su_docs, .

MEDICAL FACILITIES AND INSURANCE: Good medical facilities are widely available. The Department of State strongly urges Americans to consult with their medical insurance company prior to traveling abroad to confirm whether their policy applies overseas and whether it will cover emergency expenses such as a medical evacuation. U.S. medical insurance plans seldom cover health costs incurred outside the United States unless supplemental coverage is purchased. Further, U.S. Medicare and Medicaid programs do not provide payment for medical services outside the United States. However, many travel agents and private companies offer insurance plans that will cover health care expenses incurred overseas including emergency services such as medical evacuations.

When making a decision regarding health insurance, Americans should consider that many foreign doctors and hospitals require payment in cash prior to providing service and that a medical evacuation to the United States may cost well in excess of $50,000. Uninsured travelers who require medical care overseas often face extreme difficulties, whereas travelers who have purchased overseas medical insurance have found it to be life-saving when a medical emergency occurs. When consulting with your insurer prior to your trip, please ascertain whether payment will be made to the overseas healthcare provider or if you will be reimbursed later for expenses that you incur. Some insurance policies also include coverage for psychiatric treatment and for disposition of remains in the event of death.

Useful information on medical emergencies abroad, including overseas insurance programs, is provided in the Department of State's Bureau of Consular Affairs brochure, Medical Information for Americans Traveling Abroad, available via the Bureau of Consular Affairs home page or autofax: (202) 647-3000.

OTHER HEALTH INFORMATION: Travelers should be aware that increasing numbers of illegal drug users, particularly young people, experience unanticipated serious health emergencies, including permanent brain damage and even death, resulting from use of Methylenedioxinmethylamphetamine (MDA), commonly known as Ecstasy or XTC, and other illegal narcotics. Information on vaccinations and other health precautions may be obtained from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's hotline for international travelers at 1-877-FYI-TRIP (1-877-394-8747, fax 1-888-CDC-FAXX (1-888-232-3299), or via CDC's Internet site at http://www.cdc.gov.

TRAFFIC SAFETY AND ROAD CONDITIONS: While in a foreign country, U.S. citizens may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States. The information below concerning the Netherlands is provided for general reference only, and may not be totally accurate in a particular location or circumstance.

Safety of Public Transportation: Excellent
Urban Road Conditions/Maintenance: Excellent
Rural Road Conditions/Maintenance: Excellent
Availability of Roadside Assistance: Excellent

Travel in, around, and between cities is possible through a highly advanced national train, light rail, and tram network, by use of an extensive system of bike paths, and by automobile and motorcycle using the highway system. Rail is often a convenient alternative to driving, particularly in the areas around Amsterdam, The Hague, and Rotterdam, where road congestion is frequent. Rail network information is available at http://www.ns.nl.

Inter-city travel by road is relatively safe, in comparison with some other European countries. Roughly 12,000 people are hospitalized annually in traffic accidents in the Netherlands, approximately ten percent fatally. More than two-thirds of the fatal accidents occur outside of urban areas.

Seat belt and child seat use is compulsory. Driving is on the right side of the road. The maximum speed limit on highways is 120 km/h, with a highway speed limit of 100 km/h posted in most urban areas. Secondary roads have a speed limit of 80 km/h. The speed limit in towns and cities is 50 km/h, with 30 km/h posted in residential areas. Drivers must yield the right-of-way to drivers from the right at intersections or traffic circles, unless otherwise posted. The maximum allowable blood alcohol level in the Netherlands is 0.5. Use of cellular telephones while driving is discouraged.

Lanes at the center of many urban two-way streets are reserved for buses, trams, and taxis. In cities, pedestrians should be very mindful of trams, which often cross or share bicycle and pedestrian paths. Motorists must be especially mindful of the priority rights of bicyclists. Pedestrians should also pay particular attention not to walk along bicycle paths, which are often on the sidewalk and usually designated by red pavement.

Taxi service in the Netherlands is safe, but it is expensive. Trams and buses are both convenient and economical, but they are often frequented by pickpockets.

For additional general information about road safety, including links to foreign government sites, please see the Department of State, Bureau of Consular Affairs home page at http://travel.state.gov/road_safety.html. For specific information concerning the Netherlands, please contact the Netherlands Bureau for Tourism in New York via the Internet at http://www.goholland.com. More information is available from the Netherlands Ministry of Transportation, Public Works, and Water Management (Ministerie van Verkeer en Waterstraat) at http://www.minvenw.nl.

EMERGENCY NUMBERS: The national emergency number (equivalent to 9-1-1) is 1-1-2. The primary local roadside emergency service is the ANWB, web site: http://www.anwb.nl.

AVIATION SAFETY OVERSIGHT: The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has assessed the Government of the Netherlands' Civil Aviation Authority as Category One -- in compliance with international aviation safety standards for the oversight of the Netherlands' air carrier operations.

For further information, travelers may contact the Department of Transportation in the United States at telephone 1 (800) 322-7873, or visit the FAA's Internet web site at http://www.faa.gov/avr/iasa/. The U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) separately assesses some foreign air carriers for suitability as official providers of air services. For information regarding the DOD policy on specific carriers, travelers may contact the DOD at telephone (618) 229-4801.

CUSTOMS REGULATIONS: Customs authorities may enforce strict regulations concerning temporary import into the Netherlands of items such as firearms. It is advisable to contact the Embassy of the Netherlands in Washington, D.C. or one of the Dutch consulates in Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, or New York for specific information regarding customs requirements.

Dutch customs authorities encourage the use of an ATA (Admission Temporaire/Temporary Admission) Carnet for the temporary admission of professional equipment, commercial samples, and/or goods for exhibitions and fair purposes. ATA Carnet headquarters, located at the U.S. Council for International Business, 1212 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10036, issues and guarantees the ATA Carnet in the United States. For additional information, please call (212) 354-4480, or send an e-mail to atacarnet@uscib.org, or visit http://www.uscib.org for details.

CRIMINAL PENALTIES: While in a foreign country, a U.S. citizen is subject to that country's laws and regulations, which sometimes differ significantly from those in the United States and may not afford the protections available to the individual under U.S. law. Penalties for breaking the law can be more severe than in the United States for similar offenses. Persons violating Dutch laws, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested or imprisoned. Drug possession and trafficking are illegal in the Netherlands.

CHILDREN'S ISSUES: For information on international adoption of children and international parental child abduction, please refer to our Internet site at http://travel.state.gov/children's_issues.html or telephone (202) 736-7000.

REGISTRATION/EMBASSY AND CONSULATE LOCATION: Americans living in or visiting the Netherlands are encouraged to register at the Consulate General in Amsterdam and obtain updated information on travel and security in the Netherlands. The U.S. Embassy is located in The Hague, at Lange Voorhout 102; telephone (31)(20) 310-9209. However, all requests for consular assistance should be directed to the Consulate General in Amsterdam at Museumplein 19, telephone (31)(20) 664-5661, (31)(20) 679-0321, or (31)(20) 575-5309. The after-hours emergency telephone number is (31)(70) 310-9499. The U.S. Embassy and Consulate General web site at http://www.usemb.nl answers many questions of interest to Americans visiting or residing in the Netherlands.

* * *

This replaces the Consular Information Sheet dated March 14, 2001, to add the section on Safety and Security.

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