Netherlands travel rules: Can I visit Amsterdam and what are the restrictions for tourists?

·6-min read
Amsterdam is a popular winter city break (Getty Images/iStockphoto)
Amsterdam is a popular winter city break (Getty Images/iStockphoto)

The Netherlands is currently seeing a surge in Covid cases, which has led ministers to impose a strict lockdown to ease the effect on the country’s hospitals.

Locals have been advised to stay at home as much as possible, with only essential businesses such as supermarkets and pharmacies allowed to open.

On top of this, quarantine has been imposed on British travellers, with only vaccinated visitors allowed to enter the Netherlands.

This will affect trips to popular winter city destinations such as Amsterdam and Rotterdam, as everyday life in these holiday spots grinds to a halt for both locals and tourists.

So what does this mean for holidays and city breaks over the next month or two?

Here’s everything we know so far.

What are the current Covid-related restrictions?

As of 19 December, the Netherlands is back in a nationwide lockdown.

Prime minister Mark Rutte announced the measures on 18 December, saying a full lockdown was “inevitable with the fifth wave and with Omicron spreading even faster than we had feared.

“Omicron is forcing us to limit our number of contacts as quickly as possible, and as much as possible, which is why the Netherlands will be locked [down],” he added.

Bars, restaurants and non-essential shops - along with theatres, cinemas and cultural venues - were shut down from 19 December, with the government saying this would remain until at least 14 January, while schools would be closed until 9 January.

Dutch locals were allowed four guests into each household on Christmas Day and New Year’s Eve, while visitors were capped at two for the rest of the lockdown.

The maximum group size for people meeting outdoors is two, unless It is a larger group such as a family that live in the same house.

Reports in the Dutch media suggest that the lockdown will be eased slightly from 15 January, with non-essential shops, salons and gyms able to open at reduced capacity.

University and college students will be able to return to their places of education - but little else is reportedly set to change.

The Dutch government is expected to make an announcement about the finalised restrictions on 14 January.

While tourists are not banned completely from entering the Netherlands, this will be a major hit to leisure breaks and holidays, with visitors unable to go out for meals or enjoy many of the country’s top attractions as normal.

Tourism advice on the Netherlands’ government website reads: “The current advice is to stay at home as much as possible. If you decide to go on a short holiday or a family visit in the Netherlands, avoid crowds and follow the basic rules. Visits should be limited to one per day, and the maximum number of visitors to four.”

What are the entry requirements for the Netherlands when travelling from the UK?

For vaccinated travellers:

Fully vaccinated travellers can enter the country, but since 22 December they have had to enter into a 10-day self-isolation period after arrival.

This can be reduced by taking a test on day five - if the result comes back negative, you will be released from quarantine early.

“From 22 December, all travellers from the UK, irrespective of their vaccination status or possession of a negative test, must undergo 10 days’ home quarantine upon arrival. This period can be reduced to five days if the traveller receives a negative test result from the Dutch authorities (GGD) on Day five,” reads the current Foreign Office advice.

Double-jabbed travellers must also have a negative Covid test result to show on arrival, along with their proof of vaccination.

This can be:

  • a negative PCR test result based on a sample collected no more than 48 hours before departure, or

  • a negative antigen test result based on a sample collected no more than 24 hours before departure

You are considered fully vaccinated in the Netherlands two weeks after your second vaccination dose (or four weeks after the Johnson & Johnson vaccine).

When you emerge from isolation, you will will be subject to the same lockdown rules as locals.

These include not being able to dine out or visit attractions, and only being able to visit friends in groups of two - or meet up with someone from another household outdoors, on a one-on-one basis.

The self-isolation rule is based on the UK being on the Netherlands’ list of “very high risk areas”, so rules may ease at short notice if the country is removed from that list.

For unvaccinated or partly vaccinated travellers:

Travellers who have not been fully vaccinated will need an essential reason to enter the Netherlands from 22 December.

A list of essential reasons for non-double-jabbed travellers can be found here.

If an unvaccinated traveller is deemed to have an essential reason, they will also need to self-isolate for 10 days on arrival and abide by the local Covid restrictions.

Unvaccinated people with an essential reason to enter must also fill in a quarantine declaration form and take a Covid test on the day they arrive, and again on day five after arrival.

Are there any other rules on the ground?

Museums, bars and restaurants will remain closed, even from the easing of rules on 15 January. Essential services such as supermarkets and chemists are open, but will close at 8pm.

In terms of moving around, face masks must be worn on public transport, in stations and on platforms by those aged 13 and over. If you do not wear a face mask as directed, you may be fined €95 (£81).

You must also keep 1.5 metres’ distance from other people in public areas.

Children under the age of 13 are not required to wear a face mask.

How long will the restrictions last?

With restrictions on shops, salons and gyms easing on 15 January, it is unclear how long hospitality venues will remain closed and citizens urged to stay at home.

Hospital numbers have improved slightly at the beginning of January, but with cases still high - 30,000 people a day tested positive in the week to 13 January - Dutch virologists have instructed ministers to be cautious about fully lifting the restrictions.

The December lockdown came on top of existing restrictions that had been in place since 28 November - from that date, bars, restaurants, and other public meeting places such as theatres and cinemas had been forced to close at 5pm, a measure the government may revert to in January.

Any announcement made on 14 January about the reopening of non-essential shops is likely to include an update on when the broader lockdown rules may be reviewed or lifted.

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting