Unlocking the World

Travel to the Netherlands during Covid-19: What you need to know before you go

CNN staffUpdated 17th September 2021
This photo taken on March 21, 2017 in Lisse shows tulips in front of a windmill at the Keukenhof, during the official opening. The theme of the floral attraction for 2017 is Dutch Design. / AFP PHOTO / ANP / Bas Czerwinski / Netherlands OUT (Photo credit should read BAS CZERWINSKI/AFP via Getty Images)
(CNN) — If you're planning to travel to the Netherlands, here's what you'll need to know and expect if you want to visit during the Covid-19 pandemic

The basics

The Netherlands introduced a strict lockdown in December 2020, following a rapid rise in Covid-19 cases. The country's first night time curfew since World War II was brought in in January, leading to rioting in major cities.
The Netherlands has since eased restrictions as it looks to return to normal life -- although the Dutch prime minister has apologized for easing restrictions too soon, and brought some of them back in.

What's on offer

Amsterdam is the Netherlands' biggest draw, with its picture-perfect canals, spectacular architecture and cafe culture. But beyond the capital there is much to love, from elegant administrative capital The Hague to the increasingly hip port of Rotterdam. Outdoor lovers won't feel shortchanged either, with excellent cycling routes and water sports options on offer.

Who can go

European Union residents are allowed to enter the Netherlands for any reason, but there are different rules for those traveling from "safe" areas within the EU/Schengen area and those traveling from areas deemed high risk.
Travelers arriving from safe areas must fill in a health declaration before their arrival and take a Covid test once they've entered the Netherlands, while those coming from high risk areas must provide either proof of vaccination, proof of recovery from coronavirus or a negative Covid test result.
Visitors from other countries not deemed very high risk (with a variant of concern) can enter the Netherlands.
Currently, the following destinations are considered "safe": Australia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Canada, Faroe Islands, Greenland, Hong Kong, Israel, Jordan, Moldova, New Zealand, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, South Korea,Taiwan and Ukraine. A full list of safe countries, regularly updated, can be found on the Dutch government website.
Destinations outside the EU considered as "very high risk" are: Afghanistan, American Virgin Islands, Anguilla, Azerbaijan, Bangladesh, Bermuda, Botswana, Brazil, Costa Rica, Cuba, Dominica, Eswatini, Fiji, French Guyiana, French Polynesia, Georgia, Guadeloupe, Guyana, Haiti, India, Indonesia, Iran, Israel, Kazakhstan, Kosovo, Lesotho, Malaysia, Martinique, Mongolia, Montenegro, Myanmar, Nepal, North Macedonia, Pakistan, Palestinian territories, Philippines, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, Serbia, Seychelles, Somalia, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Suriname, Thailand, United Kingdom, United States and Venezuela.
Travelers arriving from countries deemed as "very high risk" or " high risk" will need to provide proof of vaccination or recovery from Covid, or a negative PCR test result before being permitted to travel to the Netherlands.
However, the country has just reversed its decision to bring in a mandatory 10-day quarantine for fully-vaccinated travelers from "very high-risk" areas. From September 22, vaccinated visitors arriving "very high-risk" areas will be required to submit the results of a negative PCR or antigen test in order to visit, but will not need to go into quarantine.
Unvaccinated travelers are currently banned from entering the Netherlands.
Any countries not listed are deemed high risk and travelers are subject to restrictions depending on their vaccine status. See below.

What are the restrictions?

Travelers from "safe" countries do not need to show proof of vaccination or a negative test to enter the Netherlands.
Those coming from "high risk" countries (any country not listed above) must show the results of a negative PCR or antigen test (taken within 48 and 24 hours respectively if arriving by plane).
Returning a further negative test on day five of quarantine means visitors from these countries can move around the country freely. You can make an appointment to get tested once you are in the Netherlands by calling 0800 1202.
All travelers must complete a health screening form, which can be downloaded here.
Unvaccinated travelers are prohibited from visiting the Netherlands.

What's the Covid situation?

Covid cases spiked in mid-July in the Netherlands, albeit from a low base, driven in part by the emergence of the highly contagious Delta variant. Cases have been trending downwards. As of September 17 there have been just over two million cases in the country, with 15,849 in the past week. There have been 18,484 deaths from Covid. So far, just under 63% of the population is fully vaccinated.

What can visitors expect?

The Dutch government relaxed restrictions in June, before bringing some of them back on July 9, with Prime Minister Mark Rutte apologizing for having eased them too soon.
Nightclubs were closed again, while summer festivals were called off.
However, authorities have announced that the rules are to be relaxed yet again from September 25.
The 1.5 meters social distancing requirement will be dropped from this date, while nightclubs will be permitted to reopen.
While masks are no longer required in indoor public spaces, including train stations, everyone over 13 is still required to wear one in airports on aircraft, trains, buses, trams and metros, in taxis and on other commercial passenger transport.
Those who do not do so could face fines of €95 ($112).

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There's a proud Dutch tradition of allowing visitors to peep into their homes, with locals leaving their blinds and curtains wide open after dark. (Great after a year spent staring at the same four walls). One other tradition has become less easy -- marijuana access for tourists has been curbed.
Amsterdam streets that were once heaving with tourists are now far quieter, making it possible to see the city as it used to be. And there's always the chance you can gawp at the super rich as they try to squeeze their massive yachts down those picturesque canals.