General Info about Amsterdam, Netherlands

Visa Requirements
Nationals of the EU, Australia, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea, and the majority of other European countries only require a valid passport to enter the Netherlands for a stay of up to 90 days with a passport which is valid up to then. EU Nationals can work and stay for longer with a valid passport for up to 5 years.

You are advised to contact your local Dutch embassy before travelling to ensure you know the full details for entry to the country.

The currency used in the Netherlands is the Euro which is made up of 100 Cent. Notes come in denominations of €100, €50, €20, €10 and €5. The coins in use are €2, €1, 0.50C, 0.20C, 0.10C, 0.05C, 0.02C and 0.01C.

The native language in Amsterdam is Dutch, although you will find that most people speak English so don’t worry about a language barrier.

Typical weather ranges from a little around freezing in the depths of winter to typically pleasant sunny days of 20 to 25 degrees celsius in the summer. Spring and Autumn are pleasant, but can be wet (100+ mm of rain per month).

Medical Care
The national emergency number is 112. Amsterdam’s two main hospitals, Zieukenhuis and Slotervaartziekenhuis can be found out by Vondelpark. Pharmacy opening hours are from 8am-5.30pm.

Time Zone
Holland is located in the CET (Central European Time) time zone. This is six hours ahead of Eastern Standard Time, and one ahead of Greenwich Mean Time.

Opening Hours
Shops stay open from 9am-6pm, with possible late night openings on Thursday or Fridays. Some shops still stay closed on Monday mornings.

Many museums close on Monday so make sure and check before you go. Otherwise, opening hours tend to be from 10am-5pm.

Tourist Offices
The main office of the VVV (the national tourist organisation) is right by Centraal Station. English-speaking staff can change money and provide details on transport, entertainment, exhibitions and day trips. They can also arrange hotel and theatre bookings as well as sell tram tickets and phone cards.

When getting tax refunds in the Netherlands you should be able to claim back 13.5% on purchases of more than €140.

Currency Exchange
You can change foreign currency and travellers cheque at the American Express Office on Damrak 66. GWK offices at Centraal station and Schiphol also offer good rates and are open 24 hours.

If your bank card has the ‘Cirrus’ logo you will be able to withdraw funds from bank machines, and also with your credit card.

Dutch Electricity was 220 volts, and has now moved to the European standard of 230 volts.

Public phones are found outside Centraal Station or at the post office as well as on the street. The access code for Amsterdam is 020. To make an international call dial 00 followed by your country code and leave off the initial zero of your area code before dialling the number.

Post Office
Amsterdam’s main post office is located at Singel 250-256 at Raadhuisstr, behind Dam Square. Here you can avail of the Offers Poste Restante services (Mon-Fri 9ma-6pm, Sat 10am-1.30pm).

On average, a 5%-10% service charge will be added to your bills, whether for hotels, taxis or restaurants. An extra 5% is often added in instances of superior service.

Public Holidays
It is worth noting what the public holidays are before travelling as the majority of businesses, banks and shops shut for the day.

In the Netherlands they are New Years Day (January 1st), Easter (March/April), Queens Birthday (April 30th), Liberation Day (May 5th), Ascension Day (May), Whit Sunday/Monday (May/June), Christmas Day (December 25th) and Boxing Day (December 26th).

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