Includes information on business customs, travel advisory, visa requirements, currency, language, health, local time, business hours and holidays, acceptable business etiquette, dress, business cards, gifts, temporary entry of materials and personal belongings,etc.

Business Customs

The "golden key" of customary business is courtesy, in particular, replying promptly to requests for price quotations and other information.  In general, Dutch business executives are more conservative than their U.S. counterparts.  It is best to refrain from using first names until a firm relationship has been formed.

Punctuality is also important in Dutch business culture.  If you know that you will be late for an appointment, be sure to phone ahead and give a plausible excuse.  The Dutch value the efficient use of time, and spontaneity is not desirable.  Provide at least one week’s notice for an appointment made by telephone or email.

Written communication may be in English but a formal tone should be maintained.

Bear in mind that Dutch executives frequently take extended vacations during July and August, and in late December.  Avoid planning a business trip to the Netherlands in the summer or around Christmas.


Travel Advisory

The State Department Consular Information Sheet for the Netherlands can be found at the State Department’s travel website.

 

Visa Requirements

Every U.S. traveler must have a valid passport.  No visa is required for U.S. citizens visiting the Netherlands for less than three months, but one is required for longer periods.  An American citizen entering the Netherlands for permanent residence must register with the Dutch Aliens Police within three days of entering the country.  See the U.S. Embassy website for information on consular services.  U.S. citizens planning to work in the country must obtain a work and residence permit.  Such permits must be obtained by the Dutch employer and are usually granted only for specialized work.

The Netherlands is a signatory of the Schengen Agreement.  As such, U.S. citizens may enter the Netherlands for up to 90 days for tourist or business purposes without a visa.  If you are traveling for any other purpose, you may need to obtain a visa.  Your passport should be valid for at least three months beyond the period of stay.  The 90-day period begins when you enter any of the Schengen group of countries.  Anyone intending to stay longer than 90 days must obtain the appropriate visa issued by the Dutch Embassy or a Dutch consulate in the United States.

Detailed passport and visa information is available on the website of the Dutch Embassy in Washington.

U.S. companies that require foreign businesspersons to travel to the United States should be advised that security evaluations are handled via an interagency process.  Visa applicants should go to the U.S. Embassy website.


Currency

The euro is the official currency of the Netherlands.  ATMs are widely available.  U.S. debit and credit cards are accepted at most points of sale.
 

Telecommunications/Electronics


The telecommunications infrastructure in the Netherlands is highly advanced and highly developed.

Available services are similar to those in the United States and cell phones operate on GSM technology.  There are 16 million cell phone subscriptions.  Cell phone rental is relatively cheap, especially when a prepaid service is purchased.

The City of Amsterdam hosts the AMS-IX, one of the largest Internet Exchanges in Europe.

Voltage is 220-240 volts.  The primary socket type is Europlug or Schuko, so an adapter is required for U.S. electronic items.

 

Transportation


Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport has excellent international links.  Rental cars are available at numerous locations and can be rented with an international or U.S. state driving license.  Cars are driven on the right-hand side of the road.  The conditions of the national roads and highways are excellent.  Newcomers may find driving in town a little disconcerting and should exercise caution.  Trams have the right-of-way, and the many cyclists often make unexpected turns or must be passed at close range.  Some city streets have segregated bicycle lanes.  Vehicles must yield the right-of-way to vehicles entering from the right unless the vehicle is exiting from a driveway.

 Roads posted with orange diamonds do not have to yield the right-of-way.  The speed limit in cities is 30 miles (50 km) per hour and on most highways about 73 miles (120 km) per hour.  Speed limits are strictly enforced.


Most cities in the Netherlands have good public transportation systems (trains, buses, and trams), and prices are reasonable.  Taxis are available at designated taxi stands and can be requested by telephone.  Fares are comparable with other European cities.

 

Language

Dutch is the official language. English can be used in commercial correspondence.  While language barriers pose no problems, some expressions and terms may have different meanings from those in the United States.


Health

Medical services are excellent, and the quality of hospitals compare with those in the United States.  Common medical supplies are readily obtainable, and special supplies are normally available on short notice.  An international certificate of vaccination is not required for travelers from the United States.  Drinking water is excellent, most pharmaceuticals are available, and sanitation is at American standards.
 

Local Time, Business Hours and Holidays

The time zone for the Netherlands is Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) +1, or 6 hours ahead of U.S. Eastern Standard Time (EST + 6 hours).

Offices:  Monday to Friday, 8:30 a.m. - 5:30 p.m.
Banks:  Monday to Friday, 9 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Government:  Monday to Friday, 8:30 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Retail:  Store hours are generally from 9 a.m. – 6 p.m. weekdays, with one late evening per week, 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. on Saturday, and generally closed on Sundays.  An increasing number of retail outlets also open on Sundays.

Upcoming U.S. and Dutch holidays can be found on the U.S. Embassy The Hague website.

The U.S. Embassy is closed on U.S. and Dutch holidays.


Temporary Entry of Materials or Personal Belongings

Detailed information on the customs rules for travelers entering the Netherlands from outside the European Union can be found on the Dutch Tax and Customs Administration

Prepared by the International Trade Administration. With its network of more than 100 offices across the United States and in more than 75 markets, the International Trade Administration of the U.S. Department of Commerce utilizes its global presence and international marketing expertise to help U.S. companies sell their products and services worldwide. Locate the trade specialist in the U.S. nearest you by visiting http://export.gov/usoffices.



Netherlands Business Travel and Etiquette