Electrical current is 230 volts, 50Hz. Two-pin round
European-style plugs are used.
Dutch is the official language. English is widely spoken.
Fries (as well as Dutch) is spoken by the people of Friesland
Service charges are included in hotel rates, restaurant bills
and taxi fares, usually at 15%. Tipping for good service is always
appreciated but not necessary. It is customary to tip taxi drivers
and waiters 10%.
Travel in Holland is fairly safe. Travellers should however
always exercise caution in empty streets at night and be aware of
pickpockets, particularly in central Amsterdam and at Central
Station. There have been several incidents on trains from Schiphol
Airport where heavily laden passengers have been targeted by
thieves. There is a risk of indiscriminate terrorist attacks and
visitors should be vigilant in public places and tourist sites,
particularly since extra security measures have been set up around
the country in response to concerns about a possible terrorist
attack. Police in Amsterdam are warning travellers of a new scam
whereby tourists will be approached by 'plain clothes policemen'
who claim to be investigating credit card fraud and counterfeit
currency. Tourists are shown fake identification in the form of
badges (Dutch police do not carry badges and plain clothes police
will rarely conduct such an 'investigation'), and asked to hand
over credit cards and money. This will be returned but with some
money/cards missing. If approached, travellers are advised to ask
for proper identification or to accompany them to the nearest
police station. There is also an increase in the number of spiked
drinks occurring in Europe.
In Holland, the use of cannabis is tolerated in designated
'coffee shops' in major cities. This policy exists to prevent the
marginalisation of soft drug users thereby exposing them to more
harmful drugs. However the trafficking in hard or soft drugs
outside licensed premises is illegal and the possession of soft
drugs in public places will incur a prison sentence. Everybody from
the age of 14 is required to show a valid identity document to law
enforcement officers on request. Tobacco smoking in cafés, bars and
restaurants is prohibited.
Business in the Netherlands is conducted in an efficient and
professional manner. Punctuality is important, dress is usually
formal (suits and ties are standard), business cards are exchanged
and greetings are made with a handshake. Titles and surnames are
used, unless otherwise indicated. Women tend to be well received in
Dutch business and it is not uncommon for women to hold high
positions. Most Dutch people speak excellent English. Business
hours are usually 8.30am to 5pm.
The international access code for the Netherlands is +31. The
outgoing code is 00 followed by the relevant country code (e.g.
0044 for the United Kingdom). City/area codes are in use, e.g.
(0)20 for Amsterdam. Five local mobile phone operators have the
Netherlands extremely well covered with GSM 900 and 1800 networks.
Internet cafes are widely available.
Duty free items for travellers to the Netherlands include 200
cigarettes, 100 cigarillos, 50 cigars or 250g smoking tobacco; 1
litre spirits, 2 litres spirits or aperitifs made of wine or 2
litres of sparkling wines, liquor wines or still wine; perfume up
to 50g or 250ml eau de toilette; 500g of coffee; 100g tea.
Prohibited items include the import of all birds.