|Preface Last Updated: 2/10/2004
In 1782, while posted to the Netherlands, John Adams wrote: “I
love the People where I am. They have Faults but they have deep
Wisdom and great Virtues and they love America and will be her
everlasting Friend.” He was negotiating recognition for the U.S.,
financial support for the Revolution, and a bilateral Treaty of
Amity and Commerce. The Netherlands was the second country—after
France—to recognize the U.S. as a sovereign-independent nation and
is our longest continuous diplomatic partner. The two countries
share a remarkable common heritage. Exploring the Dutch heritage is
one of the pleasures of a posting to the Netherlands. However, the
Netherlands is not a country devoted to its past at the expense of
The Dutch are committed to a strong and modern Europe with
continuing ties to the Atlantic Alliance. A tour in the Netherlands
can mean challenging and interesting work that it puts Europe on
your doorstep. Throughout the Netherlands, more than 700 museums and
numerous parks are filled with impressive works of past and
contemporary artists. Theater, music, and sports fans will find
ample opportunity to pursue their interests. Sightseers will find
their pastime pleasant, popular, and inexpensive. Overall, the
comfortable living conditions, the nearness of many interesting
areas in Western Europe, and the friendliness of the Dutch make the
Netherlands a desirable post. Most of the Dutch speak English. What
John Adams said in 1782 about the Dutch loving America remains true
The Host Country
Area, Geography, and Climate Last Updated: 9/8/2004 10:31 AM
The Netherlands is situated in Northwest Europe, bordered on the
north and west by the North Sea, on the south by Belgium, and on the
east by Germany. The country covers about 15,500 square miles, an
area about the size of Maine. Reclaimed in part from the waters of
the North Sea, The Netherlands is an artificially created land, half
of which lies at or below sea level. The country possesses a flat
terrain compromising mostly of coastal lowland, farmland, grassy
dunes, and sandy beaches. The country is crisscrossed by numerous
rivers and canals.
The Netherlands lies in the temperate zone of the Northern
Hemisphere, and for the most part possesses a maritime climate. The
summers are cool while winters are quite cold. The warmest months
fall between July and September with temperatures ranging from
60-75°F. The winter months are long and dreary with strong winds and
some snow. Temperatures range from 20-35°F. Due to the proximity of
the sea, rain is quite common and spread pretty evenly all year
Population Last Updated: 9/10/2004 8:07 AM
The Netherlands currently has a population of over 16 million and
is Europe’s most densely populated nation. The most densely
populated area often referred to as the Randstad includes the cities
of Amsterdam, The Hague, Rotterdam, and Utrecht. The Dutch are quite
diverse, as the country has witnessed a constant ebb and flow of
different peoples and cultures. While the majority of Dutch are of
Germanic and Flemish backgrounds, under the influence of different
migration flows, the remigration of Dutch Nationals from the former
overseas territories of Surinam, Antilles, and Aruba is constantly
increasing. Cities in the Randstaad encompass multi-racial
cosmopolitan populations while smaller towns do not accommodate the
variety of the nation as a whole. The official languages of the
Netherlands are Dutch and Frisian. The vast majority of the
population can speak English, and many possess familiarity with
French or German as well. Freedom of religion is guaranteed by the
Constitution and religion remains important to most Netherlanders.
Approximately 31% of the population is Roman Catholic, 21% are
Protestant, 5% are Muslim, and about 40% have no religious
affiliation. Due to the church and state remaining separate,
religion is interrelated to social and political life to a
Public Institutions Last Updated: 9/9/2004 7:40 AM
The Dutch government can be best described as a constitutional
monarchy, compromised of not only ministers and state secretaries,
but also the monarch, Queen Beatrix. The constitution determines the
division of powers between the Queen and other government
institutions. Implementation of legislation and maintaining
international relations is the responsibility of the Cabinet, while
the right to propose and amend legislation, set budgets, and conduct
inquiries/investigations is the responsibility of the Parliament.
The Queen maintains an influence in the government, though her
functions are largely ceremonial. The Netherlands has three levels
of government. In addition to the central government that is mainly
devoted to national interests, it has provincial and municipal
governments. The provincial governments are concerned with social
work, cultural affairs, environmental protection, and energy. The
municipal governments are occupied with traffic, housing, health
care, schools, and recreation. The provinces and municipalities
receive government funding and are also able to levy their own local
Arts, Science, and Education Last Updated: 9/8/2004 10:31 AM
Education in the Netherlands is excellent, and is governed at
levels by national legislation. Schooling is free, and compulsory
between the ages of five and sixteen. The Dutch public education
system is composed of two levels of schooling. Primary schools are
attended for eight years, from ages 5 to 12, while secondary schools
are attended for four or five years depending on the institution,
from ages 12 to17. Most embassy and consulate general personnel send
their children to private international institutions. Education most
consistent with American school systems can be found at The American
School of Hague, The American School of Rotterdam, and The
International School of Amsterdam.
Higher Education: There are two types of higher education in the
Netherlands: University Education and Higher Professional Education
(HBO). There are 14 universities and 59 HBO institutions in Holland.
While universities tend to emphasize on theory and research, HBO
institutes are more practically orientated and prepare students for
particular occupations. Dutch universities offer education and
conduct research in a wide range of disciplines including language
and culture, economics, law, natural sciences, engineering and
agriculture. Majority of the university programs last four years,
but degrees in engineering, agriculture, and medicine can require
five to six years. The University of Leiden, Erasmus University,
University of Utrecht, and the Technical University of Delft are
some of the prominent institutions that are recognized
internationally. Extension courses from several American colleges or
universities are available at these institutions by correspondence.
Many embassy and consulate personnel and their families take part in
higher education programs.
Arts and Sciences: Culturally, the Netherlands offers a wealth of
opportunities with its numerous museums and theaters. Among the
1,000 museums in the Netherlands, the most famous are the
Rijksmuseum, the Stedelijk Museum, and the Vincent Van Gogh Museum
in Amsterdam. However, the small but exquisite Boijmans van
Beuningen Museum in Rotterdam, Kroller Muller Museum in Otterloo,
the Mauritshuis in The Hague have also made a name for themselves.
Aside from the museums, there are many other painters and artists
such as Frans Hals, M.C. Escher, Karen Appel and Mondrian, whose
works are displayed in many parts of the country. Although mostly in
Dutch, the performing arts and theater are abundantly available in
the Netherlands. Dance groups such as the National Ballet, the
Netherlands Dance Theater, and Scapino Ballet are world-renowned.
The annual Hague North Jazz Sea Festival and Utrecht Spring Dance
Festival are extremely popular as well. Several smaller
unconventional groups can be found performing in theaters, parks and
streets all year round.
Commerce and Industry Last Updated: 9/8/2004 10:30 AM
The Netherlands has a prosperous and open economy that depends
heavily on international trade. The economy is known for stable
industrial relations, moderate unemployment, and a substantial
account surplus. Being a major transportation hub with excellent
rail, canal, and road transportation allows the Netherlands to be a
key transshipment point for goods with destinations within the
entire European continent. The Netherlands is also Europe’s largest
producer of natural gas, due to the many natural gas reserves in the
northern part of the country. All this combined makes Netherlands a
wealthy country with a high per capita Gross Domestic Product. The
Netherlands has a number of large multinational corporations,
including Philips Electronics NV, Royal Dutch Shell, Unilever, Akzo/Nobel,
DSM, Heineken and Albert Heijn Holding. The Dutch are strong
proponents of free trade and historically one of America’s
staunchest allies. More than 1,600 companies established in the
Netherlands are either wholly or partly American owned. This has
made the United States the largest investor in the Netherlands. For
decades, the Netherlands has been among the ten largest customers
for U.S. products worldwide. Agricultural commodities account for
roughly 50 percent of U.S. exports to the Netherlands, however other
important exports include machinery, medical equipment, aircraft and
avionics, computers and software, and business equipment. In return,
the Netherlands is one of the top three investors in the United
States. The U.S. is the single most important market for Dutch
products outside of Europe.
The private sector is the cornerstone of the Dutch economy.
Relatively strong economic performance is attributed to the Dutch
"Polder" Model, in which consensus among government, industry and
trade unions results in successful wage restraint, liberalization,
privatization, and tax reform. The government has gradually reduced
its role in the economy in favor of privatization and deregulation.
Nonetheless, the State continues to dominate the energy sector, and
plays a large role in public transport, aviation and
Agriculture: Despite the small population of the country,
agriculture is a very productive economic sector. The value of meat,
vegetables, milk, cheese, butter, and horticulture form a
substantial part of the total Dutch Export. Cultivated fields cover
approximately 26% of the land. Both windmills and polders have
helped in the creation of arable land, but the availability of
farmland remains severely limited. The U.S. enjoys a trade surplus
in agricultural trade with the Netherlands. Major imports from the
U.S. typically include: soybeans, feedgrain substitutes, tobacco,
fresh citrus, and high quality beef. Dutch agricultural exports to
the U.S. consist mostly of beer, cut flowers, flower bulbs, cocoa
products, and dairy products.
Transportation Last Updated: 9/9/2004 7:41 AM
The Netherlands boasts excellent road networks and public
transportation, and getting around is quite simple.
Bicycles: The most common and perhaps the best way and to get
around locally is by biking. With over 16 million bicycles, Holland
has an extensive network of bike paths which separate cyclists form
pedestrians and cars. New or second hand bicycles can be bought from
the numerous bike shops and markets in each town, or can also be
rented by the day at most railway stations.
Public Transportation: Buses, Trams, Metro and Trains provide
timely and frequent service to most locations in the Netherlands.
For Bus, Tram and Metro travel, the entire country has been divided
into zones and the fare depends on the number of zones being
traveled. Tickets can be purchased from drivers, although it is much
cheaper to buy a strip of tickets “strippenkaart” in advance from
the railway stations, post offices, tobacconists or bookshops. Once
on board, the ticket must be stamped either by the driver or
yourself. The ticket remains valid for an hour, and you may make use
of it as many times within that hour. The same ticket can be used
for buses, trams, and metros. Trains are the best option for going
longer distances or between city centers. Tickets can be bought at
automated machines or ticket counters at the train stations.
Passengers must specify if they desire a one-way or return ticket,
first or second class, and smoking or non-smoking section. For
people using public transportation more than four times a week, it
is more economical to buy a monthly pass, for which a passport size
photo is required. Public transportation is highly encouraged as it
avoids the common problems of congested roads and scarce parking in
the urban areas of the Netherlands.
Taxis: Taxicabs, although plentiful and available by day or
night, do not cruise the streets and are fairly expensive. Taxis
line up in front of the train stations, some hotels, and after
cultural events, but often one must phone for cab service.
Automobiles Last Updated: 9/9/2004 7:42 AM
The Netherlands has an excellent road and highway system, and
distances are short between many towns and villages, making driving
quite simple and a viable option. For families, it can often be the
cheapest method of transportation as well. Having a car also enables
access to the U.S. Military commissary and PX facilities at Schinnen.
Although having a car allows the most freedom, keep in mind traffic
jams up during peak hours and parking is scarce in the city centers
and beaches. Speed limits are 30 mph in residential areas, 50 mph on
local roads, and 75 mph on expressways. It is a good idea to get
familiar with all the traffic signs and road rules before driving.
Importation: Employees assigned to the Mission are authorized to
import personal vehicles duty free into the Netherlands. Vehicle
registration is arranged through the Embassy Personnel Office and is
free except for the cost of license plates. A car will not be
cleared through Dutch customs until after the employee arrives at
post with identifying passport, registration evidence, and local
liability insurance. The registration procedure is rather lengthy
and can two to three months. However, during this period, vehicles
with a valid insurance and license plates (both front and back are
required) may be driven immediately. Given the frequent theft of
license plates while vehicles are in transit, it is suggested that
both of the license plates be removed and hand-carried to Post (with
the original title and registration) to facilitate immediate
accessibility of the vehicle. A car imported without a license plate
may not be used until the Dutch registration and license plates are
Purchase: Employees may purchase tax-free vehicles of a variety of
makes and models from local car dealers or the secondhand car
market. Maintenance and service parts for European cars are much
more readily available. Cars bought must conform to the
Sale: An imported vehicle can be sold to anyone, diplomat or not,
without tax assessment by the Dutch Government after it has been in
the Netherlands for 12 months. A limited exemption is granted when
this requirement is not met, when the automobile is imported from
one of the countries in the European Economic Community, or when the
vehicle is ordered from the Netherlands and imported under a “Libre
Permis.” Under these circumstances, the vehicle may only be sold to
a diplomat if no taxes are to be levied by the Dutch Government.
License Plates: Embassy officers on the diplomatic list are
issued diplomatic plate numbers that include the letters CD. All
other officers and employees are given privileged plates with
numbers that include the letters BN or GN.
Drivers License: Government personnel do not need to obtain a
Dutch drivers license. The Dutch recognize U.S. issued licenses. You
can obtain an international drivers license upon presentation of a
valid U.S. drivers license through a local automobile club, and may
be beneficial if you plan to rent a car or drive to other European
countries. An international drivers license in itself is not a valid
document for driving. It must always be used in addition to a valid
Insurance: Vehicles registered in the Netherlands must be covered
by third-party liability insurance issued through a Dutch licensed
company. Dutch insurance rates are high, but a 75 percent reduction
is granted if a letter from the previous insurance company is
submitted with certification that the applicant had no claims during
the preceding 10 years. Smaller reductions are granted for shorter,
claim free periods. You can also be insured through one of the
American companies authorized in Europe.
APK: The APK is a statutory mandatory inspection, making sure
vehicles meet environmental and safety demands. Passenger and
commercial vehicles must be inspected if they are more than three
years old. The inspection is random and may be given at any moment
by the Dutch road and transport authority, therefore it is important
to have car serviced and checked regularly. The motor pool at Post
can provide assistance in making appointments with an authorized
dealer and detailed information regarding the inspection protocol.
Gas: Unleaded gas is readily available throughout the Netherlands
and other European countries. Unleaded petrol has an octane rating
between 91 and 95, while leaded petrol has an octane rating of 98.
Gas is expensive, currently about $5.35 a gallon. However, employees
can request an Esso Gas Card, which enables them to take advantage
of tax-free prices 60% lower than the regular rate. Employees can
apply for the Esso Gas Card through the General Service Office,
prior to the arrival of their vehicle. The Esso Card is only valid
within the Netherlands; consequently full price must be paid in all
other European counties.
Regional Transportation Last Updated: 9/7/2004 6:47 AM
The Netherlands telecommunications system is good but can lead to
some frustrations for American users. Establishing initial phone
service may take as long as three weeks. All phone lines are routed
through the embassy phone system. Bimonthly bills are submitted to
each employee reflecting their respective usage amount. Long
distance calls may be placed directly or booked through a long
distance operator. Most direct hires, depending on position, are
given a cell phone for official use, and receive a monthly bill for
any personal calls. Additional cell phones for family members must
be purchased from the local market. The Netherlands has a high
number of mobile operators, prepaid and subscription, and good
offers can be found by shopping around.
Telephones and Telecommunications Last Updated: 9/7/2004 7:14 AM
The Netherlands telecommunications system is good but can lead to
some frustrations for North American users. It may take as long as
three weeks to establish phone service in The Hague, although the
universal availability of mobile cell phones has considerably
shortened this lead time. The General Services Office (GSO) can
assist in the process. Long distance calls are not itemized, but an
itemized bill may be requested from the PTT at an additional charge.
Direct‑dial telephone service is available to the U.S. and
throughout Western Europe, or calls can be booked through the long
distance operator. Long distance and information services operators
are multilingual. You can use a calling card to call numbers in the
U.S. Calls placed this way are billed against a Master Card or Visa
in dollars. Pay phones are abundant, and can be used via prepaid
phone cards or depositing change.
Internet Last Updated: 9/7/2004 6:59 AM
There are numerous Internet service providers in the Dutch
market, and offerings are constantly changing. The cost of having
Internet service will usually involve a subscription fee to the ISP
and a telephone connection charge to the telecom group. Internet
access can also be obtained through a cable company, in which case
there is no telephone charge. Payments are deducted automatically
via a Dutch bank account. Language is a key feature to consider as
the language of some ISP websites are only in Dutch. Euronet, UU
Net, Wish and XS4ALL are the most popular ISP’s, while A2000 and
Casema are the most prominent cable companies, all which provide
service in English. It is best to call these companies directly and
ask for their latest subscription information packs.
Mail and Pouch Last Updated: 9/7/2004 7:12 AM
The Postal Service Center and Army Post Office (APO) is located
in the basement of the Embassy building, and are available to
Embassy, Consulate General, and Department of Defense personnel.
Services available include letter and parcel mailings, registry
services, courier services, and money order purchases. U.S. destined
mail sent via APO is airlifted to the U.S. Postage rates and are
comparable to domestic prices, determined depending upon class of
mail, weight, and destination. Mailings to other APO’s can be mailed
free provided no insurance or registration is required. Mailing
requirements and transit times vary for the different classes of
mail and can be obtained from the service center. Diplomatic pouches
are available for official use and dispatched to and from the U.S.
once a week on Friday. The Postal Service Center accepts cash (U.S.
currency), personal checks, debit card and credit card for postal
products and services.
The Embassy’s APO:
U.S. Embassy, The Hague
PSC 71, Box 1000
APO New York 09715
International Postal Service:
Lange Voorhout 102
2514 EJ, The Hague
Radio and TV Last Updated: 9/9/2004 9:14 AM
Radio and TV are enriched in the Netherlands by programs from
many of the surrounding countries. It’s possible to find radio
programs in English, French, German, and Dutch on a normal AM
receiver. BBC at 648 on the AM dial offers English language news
throughout the day. Good classical and jazz music stations can be
found in addition to popular music, rock music and talk stations.
Ten Dutch TV channels are on the air: Nederland 1, 2 and 3, Yorin,,
RTL 4, 5, Net 5, SBS-6, Veronica, Much of their programming is in
English. Cable TV is universally available and provides access to
Belgian, German, French, and British stations as well. The Embassy
Chancery is equipped with a satellite dish for receiving Armed
Forces Network, bringing live U.S. news and current programs daily.
Personnel can also receive the network through buying or leasing a
decoder from the military exchange. A satellite dish is required for
the network installation. Upon authorization, personnel will be
asked to provide an expected date of return, as the decoders will be
activated only for that time period. U.S. televisions are not usable
in the Netherlands for receiving European broadcasts. Good European
and multi-system sets are available, but at higher prices than in
the U.S. The PX at Schinnen has a wide selection of color TV’s that
can receive both U.S. and European signals.
Newspapers, Magazines, and Technical Journals Last Updated:
9/7/2004 7:34 AM
Most Dutch bookstores offer a variety of books in English.
International editions of Time, Newsweek, Life, USA Today, and the
Herald Tribune are sold locally. Popular U.S. magazines,
particularly women’s magazines such as Vogue, Ladies’ Home Journal,
and Glamour are sold at newsstands, but at double U.S. prices. There
is an American Book Store located in The Hague and Amsterdam city
centers, which carry the latest books and magazines, and offer a 10
percent discount to Embassy and Consulate staff. The army base at
Schinnen and the Information Resource Center at the Embassy both
maintain a small collection of magazines, scholarly journals,
fiction and nonfiction paperbacks, reference books, and children’s
books. In addition to these sources, most Dutch public libraries
have some English language books.
Health and Medicine Last Updated: 9/8/2004 10:36 AM
Health care and the medical services in the Netherlands are
extremely good, but the system works differently than in the United
States. Most people have a family doctor, known as “huisarts”
meaning house doctors. The huisart is a general practitioner who can
treat the entire family, make house calls when necessary, and refer
a patient to a specialist when needed. The family doctor also is
able to prescribe medication, but many times are reluctant to do so.
The Dutch rely little on pain medication or tranquilizers and avoid
using antibiotics unless they are clearly convinced of their
necessity. Consequently, often times the doctors will simply suggest
to go home, get plenty of rest and drink hot tea. To begin looking
for a family doctor ask around, check the yellow pages, or call city
hall for a list of doctors in your neighborhood. Once registered
with a huisart, it is expected that you will remain their patient
for the duration of your residence in the area, as changing huisarts
is heavily frowned upon. In Holland, specialists are well
represented in all fields and are seen with a written referral from
your family doctor. Pediatricians, surgeons, obstetricians,
optometrists, dieticians, etc are all considered specialists in the
Netherlands. Depending on the urgency of your condition,
appointments can be given the same day or a month later. Access to
certain specializations are restricted, therefore delays in
treatment are to be anticipated. The Post has a health unit and a
part time nurse available in the embassy building. The nurse can
assist in medical advice, obtaining prescriptions and making
Dentists: Dentists, known as “tandarts” are widely available
throughout the Netherlands. Although dental training and techniques
differ from those in the U.S., dental work, including orthodontics,
is usually good and compares favorably with U.S. prices. It is not
standard practice to administer local anesthesia when filling a
cavity, provide fluoride treatments and extensive cleaning. These
services are considered extra, and should be discussed with the
dentist. Dentists are found using the same guidelines as doctors, as
most limit the number of patients they will accept, it is important
to register with them as soon as possible.
Medical Facilities Last Updated: 9/8/2004 10:37 AM
Hospitals: Hospitals are well spaced throughout the cities,
making them easy to find in an emergency. Most hospitals are modern
and have access to the latest technology and equipment. Majority of
the facilities do not offer private rooms, and sharing a room with a
person from the opposite sex is common practice.
Pharmacy: A pharmacy or chemist where prescriptions can be filled
is known as an “apotheek”. Apart from the prescription drugs, a vast
assortment of over-the-counter and non-prescription drugs is
available. Pharmacies are usually open until 5:30 pm, after which
prescriptions can be filled at one of the five pharmacies required
to stay open 24 hours for emergencies. Pamphlets with a yearlong
schedule and locations of all the pharmacies can be obtained from
any local pharmacy.
Community Health Last Updated: 9/8/2004 10:45 AM
Holland is a clean country, and cities are cleaner than American
cities. Although most temperate zone diseases occur, no particular
ailment is peculiar to this area. Some cases of jaundice, sinusitis,
and poliomyelitis occur here, along with sporadic cases of typhoid
and mild epidemics of influenza. People with lung, bronchial, and
skin disorders sometimes suffer in this climate. The water supply is
good and tap water is safe to drink. Public eating places, butcher
shops, and dairies are inspected regularly.
Employment for Spouses and Dependents Last Updated: 9/8/2004 10:59
A Bilateral Work Agreement signed in 1987 between the Netherlands
and the United States grants dependents of Mission personnel the
right to work. Human Resources can assist in acquiring a work
permit, which are fairly easy to obtain. Service oriented positions
will want or require a working knowledge of Dutch. Secretarial or
office management jobs will require good word processing skills.
Most local hire positions in the Mission are open to all qualified
applicants including dependents. A limited number of part time,
temporary and intermittent positions for Americans only are also
advertised. For these positions, an embassy employment committee
chooses among the qualified applicants. The Community Liaison Office
(CLO) coordinates a Student Summer Hire Program for mission children
16 and older, to help obtain work during the summer. Dependents
interested in employment in the Netherlands should take the
initiative to consult the CLO and HR prior to their arrival and
indicate an interest in continuing employment by faxing or emailing
their resumes in advance.
American Embassy - The Hague
Post City Last Updated: 9/9/2004 7:50 AM
The Hague is the third largest city of Holland, covering an area
of 6,800 hectors and hosting a population of 463,754 inhabitants.
Founded in 1248 by Count Williem II, the city derives its name from
the older version ’sGravenhage, meaning The Count’s Hedge. The
city’s coats of arms depict a stork and eel in remembrance of the
storks kept at the court of the counts. The shield is held by a pair
of gold lions and bears a count’s coronet. Being the seat of the
crown, the parliament, and the government, The Hague is considered
the political center of the country. This royal city is home to
numerous foreign embassies, international institutions and
multinational companies. Some of the prominent institutions include
the International Court of Justice, the International Criminal
Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, Iran/USA Claims Tribunal, the
Permanent Court of Arbitration, and the Organization for Prohibition
of Chemical Weapons. It also the headquarters for Shell and
represents many U.S companies such as Exxon, Dow Chemical, Cargill,
Sarah Lee-Douwe Egberts, and IBM. As a result, The Hague is truly a
multinational city with nearly half of its inhabitants coming from
other countries and cultures. The city pursues a policy of
supporting immigrants and concentrates on promoting social
participation. The Hague is a primarily residential area and a great
city to live in. It is attractive, clean, and well maintained with a
relaxed small city type of atmosphere. It’s beautiful parks, woods,
and leafy lanes create a pleasant ambiance. Close by are two of
Holland’s famous seaside resorts, Scheveningen and Kijkduin,
offering endless beaches, gourmet restaurants, casinos, theaters,
and other entertainment.
The Post and Its Administration Last Updated: 9/9/2004 7:54 AM
The Embassy Chancery is located at Lange Voorhout 102, in the
heart of the diplomatic and commercial area. The Chancery houses
offices of the State Department, the Defense Attaché Office,
Department of Agriculture, Drug Enforcement Administration, Office
of Defense Cooperation, Department of Commerce, and a military post
office. The four story building has an auditorium, a cafeteria, and
a garage for official vehicles. Metered parking is available in the
vicinity of the Embassy, and municipal parking permits are available
to Embassy employees. Office hours are 8:00 am to 5:00 pm, Monday
through Friday. Marine guards are on duty 24 hours daily, making the
embassy building accessible at anytime.
Housing Last Updated: 9/9/2004 8:07 AM
The acquisition, leasing, and management of housing for all
agencies is the responsibility of the General Services Office (GSO).
The office works closely with local real estate agents, landlords,
and residents in managing affairs related to the Post Housing Pool.
It is the responsibility of the GSO to locate and contract the best
possible residential properties to accommodate Embassy and Consulate
Staff while obtaining the most favorable leasing terms possible in
the interests of the United States Government. Housing assignments
for The Netherlands are made by the Post Inter-Agency Housing Board.
Although housing is provided to employees based on position ranks
and family sizes, the Board makes every effort to take employee
preference and special needs into consideration when making housing
assignments. Employees are encouraged to make their preferences and
needs known as early as possible via letter, front channel cable, or
their assigned sponsor.
Housing in the Netherlands tends to be older than in the United
States. Bedroom, living room kitchen, and bathroom sizes run much
smaller. Storage and closet space are also less than American size
homes. Most fixtures and furnishing are of European design.
Residences are equipped with European appliances, which usually have
smaller capacities and longer running cycles than their American
counterpart. The vast majority of homes do not have basements.
Garages are rare, and most cars are parked on the street. Although
comparable in general comfort, homes and apartments differ quite
significantly in layout and appearance. The Embassy owns and leases
homes in the areas of Wassenaar, Scheveningen, Kijkduin,
Bezuidenhout, Benoordenhout and Centrum, all within a relatively
short distance to the embassy.
Temporary Quarters Last Updated: 9/9/2004 8:00 AM
Although every effort is made to have permanent housing ready for
immediate occupancy upon the arrival of each employee, in some cases
transient accommodations may be necessary. Suitable temporary
accommodation through the use of a hotel will be made until
occupancy is possible. State Department regulations allow temporary
lodging for up to 90 days after arrival and 30 days prior to
departure, either through the temporary lodging allowance or in
government provided transient quarters
Permanent Housing Last Updated: 9/9/2004 8:22 AM
The General Services Housing Office manages many government-owned
and short-term leased residential properties in The Hague.
Government owned housing consists of the Ambassadors residence, the
Deputy Chief of Mission Residence, and a few executive residences.
Government leased quarters includes a constantly changing mix of
apartments, freestanding houses, duplex units, and row houses.
Employees of most agencies are provided accommodations among these.
Living Quarter Allowance: For those on LQA, the housing market in
The Hague is fluid and prices quickly reflect the prevailing demand.
There are a variety of property to choose from depending on the
desired area for living. Most private leases are obtained through
the services of a realtor known as a “makelaar”. It is advisable to
use an agent who is a member of the Dutch Association of Real Estate
Agents, known to adhere to high professional standards. Relations
among the lessee, the lessor, and the makelaar are complex since the
makelaar acts as the agent of both parties. It is important to
communicate your personal needs as definitions and terminology is
different than the U.S. Oral agreements can be just as binding as
written contracts, so be cautious what you agree to. Before any
lease is signed, it must be reviewed by GSO, to ensure that
appropriate provisions concerning diplomatic clauses and makelaar
fee responsibility are included and that the lease complies with
housing committee policy.
Furnishings Last Updated: 9/9/2004 8:27 AM
Most government agencies provide basic furnishings and equipment
for those employees occupying government quarters. The embassy may
fill requests for additional furniture and equipment depending on
availability. However, employees should limit such requests to one
occasion after moving into quarters to conserve time and manpower.
Since rooms are small and storage space is limited, employees are
advised to avoid bringing oversized furniture and to limit their
shipments. Furniture of all styles is widely available and can be
easily purchased on the local market.
Appliances: Although some basic appliances such as refrigerators,
freezers, microwave, washer and dryers are included in government
quarters, many other items such as toaster ovens, coffee pots,
irons, televisions and stereo systems are not. In Holland, 220 is
the standard voltage, therefore appliance from North America cannot
be used without a adaptor and transformer.
Food Last Updated: 9/10/2004 5:42 AM
Netherlands has a wide array of supermarkets, open markets, and
small neighborhood stores. Large supermarkets in The Hague are open
from 9am to 8pm. They carry the basic groceries such as dairy
products, fruits and vegetables, meats, poultry, fish, herbs and
spices, baking ingredients, along with other household and kitchen
supplies. The largest and most well known supermarket chain is
Albert Heijn. Other smaller chain such as C1000, Konmar, Hoogvilet
are popular as well. Larger supermarkets have frequent shopper
programs, which allow money to be saved on special items of the
week. Flyers advertising sale items are printed weekly and can be
found near the entrance of the store. Once or twice a week each
district will have their open-air market. These markets are open
from 9am to 5pm, and are a popular venue for grocery shopping.
People can buy fresh meats, fruit, vegetables, sweets, bakery
products, and many other items. With a critical eye, excellent
bargains can be found. Neighborhood stores and gourmet food shops
are small and specialize in certain types of goods. These stores
have limited and sometimes irregular hours which are posted on the
American Products: Although some larger supermarkets offer
international products, American food items are difficult to find.
There are a few expatriate shops in The Hague, which carry American
products at extremely inflated prices. The military base has two
stores available for food shopping: the Commissary and the Shoppette,
which stock an excellent variety of American dry foods, canned
goods, fresh and frozen meats and foods, and other household items.
American products can be bought here for much more reasonable
Shopping Etiquette: In the Netherlands, customers must provide
their own grocery bags and bag their groceries themselves. Shops can
sell you bags, but most people come with their own heavier carryall
bags. Supermarkets have baskets and cart handy at the entrance,
however customers must deposit money to unlock the shopping cart.
The money is returned when the cart is returned. Payment can be made
with cash, pin, or bank debit cards; credit cards are not an
accepted form of payment.
Clothing Last Updated: 9/10/2004 8:11 AM
The climate of the Netherlands requires a basic wardrobe of fall
and winter-weight clothing for the entire family. The winters are
damp, cold and windy, hence sweaters and jackets are much needed.
Although there are a few occasional hot days, summers are mild for
the most part. The use of rank tops, t-shirts, and shorts will be
short lived. No matter the season, rain is a constant year-round,
therefore good rain gear and plenty of umbrellas are essential to
bring. Since the majority of the streets are paved with cobblestones
and brick, comfortable shoes are much needed. For women, shoes with
wide heels prove to be much easier to maneuver in and safer.
The Dutch tend to dress informally for work and recreation.
Normal daywear for men is collared shirts, polo shirts, trousers,
jeans etc. while women wear dresses, skirts, slacks, sweaters etc.
The usual attire for informal dinner parties, luncheons, and
receptions is business attire, unless otherwise stated. Formal
events require black tie attire as usual. For ladies long skirts and
blouses and suits are acceptable, however it is a good idea to bring
a few formal dresses.
The Hague has many department stores and smaller boutiques, both,
which carry a good selection of clothing, fabrics, and shoes. Some
of the larger department store chains include Hema, C&A, Bejenkorf,
and V&D. Pant, shirts, and shoe sizes are on a different scale, and
prices are more expensive than in the States. The Dutch tend to be a
lot bigger and taller than Americans, thus finding something smaller
than a women’s dress size 8 or shoe size 6 is extremely difficult.
Shopping hours in the Netherlands are based on the idea that people
who work in shops should be able to live like other working people.
Therefore, nearly all shops close in the evening and on Sundays. In
The Hague, shopping hours are Tuesday to Friday from 9 am till 6 pm.
On Mondays, shops open around 1 pm. There is late night shopping
every Thursday, and shops stay open until 9pm. Only in the centrum,
shops are open on Sundays as well.
Supplies and Services Last Updated: 9/10/2004 5:47 AM
Supplies: Most household supplies, toiletries, cosmetics, home
medicines, liquor, and tobacco products can be found locally. For
familiar brands, shopping at the expatriate stores or army base is
Basic Services: Dry cleaning and laundry services are less
readily available, take longer time, and are expensive. Tailors are
available and their services are costly as well. Other services such
as shoe repairs and electronic repair vary in quality and prices.
Barbers and beauty shops are comparable in price and quality to
American ones. Detailed information about services and locations can
be inquired upon arrival from the CLO.
Domestic Help: Highly trained and specialized servants, such as
cooks, butlers, maid, and nannies are in high demand and short
supply, naturally making their services quite expensive. However,
with persistence, it is possible to find satisfactory domestic help.
Many people place an ad in the local newspaper or in their
neighborhood supermarkets, but perhaps the best way to find someone
reliable is through asking friends, coworkers, neighbors, and other
Religious Activities Last Updated: 9/10/2004 8:09 AM
Modern Dutch society is very secular and many do not identify
themselves with an organized religion. However there are plenty of
churches, mosques, synagogues and other places of worship, and
people have the opportunity to practice their own religion.
Churches: English language services are held in many places of
worship in The Hague, including the American Protestant Church, the
International Roman Catholic Parish of The Hague, the Church of the
Latter-day Saints, St. John and St. Philip Episcopal Church and the
Liberal Jewish Congregation. Some churches outside The Hague include
St. James Anglican Church in Voorschoten, Trinity International
Church in Leidsendam, and Scots International Church in Rotterdam.
Many of the churches have active youth and women’s groups, and a few
offer religious education.
Mosques: With more than 500,000 practicing Muslims, Islam has
become one of the country’s main religion. Subsequently, 450 mosques
can be found among the larger cities and their suburbs. Masjid Noor
ul Islam is located on Scheetersstraat, close to the Hague Centrum.
The Dutch public is gradually learning more about Islam, and make
allowance for pupils and colleagues such as leaving for Friday
prayers or fasting in Ramadan.
Synagogues: There are small Jewish communities throughout the
country, but the vast majority of Jewish life is centered in
Amsterdam. There is a Liberal Jewish Congregation located in The
Hague, and Orthodox Jewish Synagogue located in Scheveningen, both
offering services in English.
Education Last Updated: 9/10/2004 6:32 AM
The American School of The Hague (ASH) offers a complete
elementary, middle, and high school program headed by American
principals. The school is a large modern airy structure located in
the elegant suburb of Wassenaar. The American School of The Hague
contains fully equipped classrooms, science laboratories, gyms, a
theater, and playing fields. With the exception of native foreign
language instructors, the faculty is almost entirely American
trained and recruited from American school systems. Students are
fairly evenly divided between Americans and non-Americans with a
slight tilt toward non-Americans. The American School of The Hague
is an approved school for dependents of employees in all U.S.
Government departments and agencies.
The school is a testing center for the College Board and
administers the following tests: Test of English as a Foreign
Language (TOEFL), Preliminary Scholastic Aptitude Test (PSAT),
Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT), and Advanced Placement (AP)
examinations for which university credit may be granted. The high
school program permits its graduates to compete academically with
students graduating from the better schools of the U.S. Students
consistently score higher on the SAT exams than the U.S. national
average and have been accepted, upon graduation, at ivy league
institutes and other top universities.
Further information regarding the American School can be obtained
from: The Superintendent, American School of The Hague,
Rijdstraatweg 200, 2241 BX Wassenaar. Telephone: 070-514-0113. Aside
from ASH, several other English language schools are available to
dependents, including the British School in Voorschoten, Haagsche
Schoolvereeniging International Stream and The International School
of The Hague.
Special Education Needs: The American School of The Hague does
provide limited services for students with learning disabilities,
but students who cannot be mainstreamed in a regular classroom for
at least 75% of the day will not be accepted. Wheelchairs can be
accommodated in the current facilities. Parents whose children have
learning or physical disabilities should provide full information to
the school early so that an admission decision can be made.
Higher Education Opportunities Last Updated: 9/10/2004 7:46 AM
Opportunities for university level education exist in The Hague
area, but are limited. Leiden, a 10 minute train ride from The
Hague, houses The Webster University which offers B.A., M.A., and
M.B.A. degrees. Rotterdam, a 20-minute train ride from The Hague, is
home to Erasmus University, which also offers a M.B.A degree. Those
wishing to attend courses at Dutch universities or to enroll as
matriculating students will need a good command of Dutch besides the
necessary educational preparation. Dutch language classes are
offered by the Embassy, and they can also be arranged through
Other types of adult education are available in The Hague. Day
and evening art classes are offered at the Vrije Academie, where
beginners are accepted by interview with the academy's director. A
few other institutions are also available for art students. A Dutch
music conservatory, which is located in The Hague, houses a youth
orchestra and provides good musical instruction for both adults and
children. Instruction in most sports, gymnastics, different kinds of
dance is available to both adults and children. Occasionally, the
American School of The Hague offers evening courses in such subjects
as European culture, calligraphy, computer skills, art, and
Speaking Dutch: Part of the charm of the Netherlands is that
English is so widely spoken. Most Americans decide that learning
Dutch is not necessary, except to find employment outside of the
international community. Nonetheless, learning to speak and
understand Dutch is useful in dealing with service or trades people
and to fully participate in Netherlands society. The city sponsors
the Educatif Centrum for immigrants and foreigners to learn Dutch.
The subsidized cost for a year’s language study is less than a meal
for two at a local restaurant. In addition, there are several
private schools that offer Dutch lessons at reasonable rates.
Recreation and Social Life
Sports Last Updated: 9/10/2004 8:09 AM
The Dutch are great lovers of sports, and nearly every Dutch
family belongs to one sports club or another. Clubs usually focus on
a single sport, but multisport clubs in which soccer, field hockey,
racket sports and even golf are played do exist. Good sporting gear
and sports equipment can be obtained at local stores, but at higher
prices than in the U.S.
Racket sports are popular in the Netherlands. Outdoor tennis
courts are inexpensive, and several reasonably priced indoor tennis
facilities exist. The Embassy has its own court at the Ambassador’s
residence that is available to Mission personnel. Inquire at the CLO
in the Embassy. The city has adequate facilities for badminton but
limited ones for squash. Racquetball also is played in a suburban
indoor tennis center.
For golfers, the closest course is The Hague Country Club in
Wassenaar, where a courtesy membership is available to Ambassadors.
Private courses are expensive in the Netherlands, although open to
all golfers with official handicaps. At least two public courses,
with reasonable greens fees are within an hour's drive of The Hague.
Golfers should bring equipment to the Netherlands with them, since
golf equipment is expensive.
Scheveningen has an 18-lane, duckpin bowling alley with automatic
pin setters. Rental shoes are available. If you have a bowling ball,
bring it, since alley balls can be worn and chipped. An active
bowling league exists. Cycling is a popular sport in the
Netherlands, as are wind surfing and running. The land is flat,
making cycling and running pleasant, and wind is always available
for the surfer. An indoor/outdoor ice skating rink is open in The
Hague from October to March, and inexpensive lessons can be
arranged. Canals are seldom frozen long enough for much outdoor
skating. Locally made and imported ice skates are available.
Several attractive and well maintained public beaches are within
reach. They are seldom used for swimming due to cool summer
temperatures and treacherous currents but are covered from Easter to
Labor Day with Northern Europeans in search of the sun. For serious
swimming, large public and private indoor pools that also offer
swimming lessons at moderate prices are available. The public pools
are affordable, have large indoor swim areas for both children and
adults. Fishing is popular here and licenses are easy to obtain.
Children: Sports are not part of the normal Dutch school
curriculum so clubs are important to the Dutch youngster, and sports
fields are busy every afternoon after school. These clubs are open
to foreigners, and some American children play in Dutch leagues.
Many American youngsters participate in sports organized by the
American School and the American Baseball Foundation, which offer
baseball, basketball, soccer, and flag football programs. The school
offers intramural or interscholastic soccer, basketball, baseball,
tennis, track and field, cross country, and volleyball to older
children. Both institutions concentrate efforts on providing
practically the same extracurricular athletic environment that
exists in the U.S. Its programs are well organized and an integral
feature of American community life.
Touring and Outdoor Activities Last Updated: 9/10/2004 7:01 AM
Sightseeing in the Netherlands is a pleasant, popular, and
inexpensive pastime on foot, or by car, bicycle, bus, or train.
Separate bicycle lanes are provided in many areas and add to the
safety and enjoyment of this type of touring. Bicycle lanes often
run parallel and adjacent to the sidewalk. Since this is a small
country, most points of interest are easily reached.
For a major change of scenery, you must travel to the
southeastern part of Holland or to a neighboring country, since the
Netherlands’ topography is flat or only slightly rolling. Short
trips can easily be taken to nearby beaches, lakes, dunes, and
woods. The many lakes, canals, and rivers provide ample opportunity
for sailing and motorboating. You can rent sailboats, rowboats, and
canoes at various places on the banks of these waterways. Boating
and sailing are popular sports and membership in one of the numerous
yacht clubs can be arranged easily.
Entertainment Last Updated: 9/10/2004 7:21 AM
Many possibilities for entertainment exist throughout The Hague
and surrounding areas. If the city seems lacking in excitement,
Amsterdam is only an hour away. Four events in The Hague are of
special interest: the colorful ceremony opening parliament on the
third Tuesday of September, celebration of the Queen’s birthday on
April 30, the ceremony opening the herring fishing season at
Scheveningen in late May, and the arrival of Sint Nicolaas or
Sinterklaas at the harbor in November.
Many excellent theater, concert, opera, and dance companies
perform regularly in The Hague. The Residentie 2 Orkest is the local
symphony and offers season tickets and individual concerts. A new
dance theater, Lucent Danstheater, has excellent Dutch and visiting
dance troupes performing regularly. Theaters, notably the Circus
Theater, host many musical productions, often from England or the
U.S. The Anglo American Theater Group, a very active community
theater company, always welcomes new members, and produces shows of
high quality. Tickets for the theater, operas, concerts, and other
events are a little cheaper than in the U.S. and are available only
a few days before the performance. When special attractions are
offered, such as the Holland Festival or the North Sea Jazz
Festival, advance reservations are essential.
A number of movie theaters exist in The Hague, and movies are
presented in the original language, with Dutch subtitles. American
movies are popular and arrive four to six weeks after their American
openings. Besides movies, the boardwalk at Scheveningen with lots of
activities, a video arcade, zoos nearby in both Amsterdam and
Rotterdam, and amusement parks in Wassenaar and Rijswijk are fun
diversions. Children’s theater, a puppet museum, and the Omniversum,
Europe's first space theater, also are of special interest to
Eating Out: Although the city is filled with countless
restaurants, eating out is considered somewhat of a luxury, and the
average Dutch only go to nice restaurants a few time a year. Typical
Dutch restaurants start off with a bowl of soup or appetizer, then a
meat dish with some vegetables on the side, and a ice cream or
dessert followed by tea or coffee. Don’t be surprised if it takes
2-3 hours by the time you are finished. Many other types of
restaurants are found in The Hague. Especially popular are
Indonesian restaurants that feature rice tables, meals consisting of
many courses of spicy meat and vegetables. Other popular foods
include Turkish, Chinese, and Indian cuisine. Good beer and wines
are available at every bar and restaurant. Meals and drinks in
hotels and restaurants are more expensive than in restaurants in the
Social Activities Last Updated: 9/10/2004 7:30 AM
Active social life in The Hague is much the same as social life
in the U.S. People entertain in their homes, go out to dinner, play
sports and card games, or go to the movies with friends. Friends are
developed through people met in the office, at church, in the
neighborhood, or through your children and friends. A number of
clubs of various sorts offer another channel for meeting people.
Women can join the American Women’s Club of The Hague, whose
membership is open to all American women living in the Netherlands.
Meetings are held monthly and the club is active in local
philanthropic work. It also offers excellent opportunities to travel
within Holland and Europe. The International Women’s Contact Group
is also active and offers Embassy women the opportunity to meet
Dutch women and women of other embassies. A small social
organization, the American Embassy Group is open to Embassy members,
both Dutch and American. The group is supportive of newcomers and
plans many social events for families throughout the year.
Getting to know the Dutch is one of the pleasures of a posting to
the Netherlands, but this requires positive effort. The Dutch are
devoted to their families and to the friends they have known over
many years, and are unlikely to search for friends among the foreign
community. They are friendly, however, and speak excellent English,
so getting acquainted is straightforward. Among the Dutch, it is
proper and customary to invite guests for after‑dinner coffee or for
coffee and dessert. The Dutch entertain and enjoy being entertained
chiefly on weeknights, preferring to devote the weekend to their
families. With about 75 embassies in The Hague, it is possible to
find friends within the international community.
Official Functions Last Updated: 9/10/2004 7:41 AM
Receptions, cocktail parties, luncheons, and dinners given by
diplomatic corps members and by Netherlands officials are numerous.
Social obligations are similar to those in other European capitals
and in Washington, D.C. In January and February, a series of at
homes called “Jours” are given for foreign ambassadors by the Grande
Maitresse, the Queen’s representative. Many other events are hosted
throughout the year, at the Ambassadors and DCM’s residence.
Cards suitable for inviting guests to cocktails, receptions, or
dinners can be printed locally. Printing is of excellent quality but
is expensive. Business cards are extremely useful at official
function, and are commonly exchanged by Dutch business people and
civil servants at all levels.
Consulate General - Amsterdam
Post City Last Updated: 8/3/2005 10:28 AM
Amsterdam, the capital of the Netherlands, is one of the most
important and culturally rich cities in the world. Located at the
junction of the Amstel and IJ rivers at the base of the IJsselmeer,
Amsterdam is the country’s leading financial and commercial center
and the city closest to Schiphol, one of Europe’s busiest airports.
In addition, Amsterdam is only a 45‑minute drive from The Hague,
which provides frequent opportunities for members of both posts to
meet and socialize.
The earliest recorded date in Amsterdam’s history is 1275, the
date of a document granting certain tax exemptions to the city’s
people. During the later Middle Ages, the city grew in importance.
It reached its “Golden Age” in the 17th century as a financial and
cultural center of the Western World. Although the 18th and 19th
centuries were a period of economic and political retrogression,
completion of the North Sea Canal in 1876 favorably reversed this
process and restored the city’s position as a major seaport.
Although many modern buildings can be seen on the outskirts, the
center of Amsterdam retains the character of its Golden Age, due to
the city’s policy of preserving the facades of the stately houses,
warehouses, churches, and other fine buildings of that period.
Central Amsterdam’s renowned necklace of canals glistens with the
beauty of the past, and is the locale for many of the city’s finest
restaurants and hotels. Just outside of this inner ring stand newer
housing areas, including sections such as Olympia Plein, which was
built for the 1928 Olympics in Amsterdam. These areas are
characterized by pleasing facades, convenient shopping, and general
livability. Beyond this, and often close to the highways surrounding
the city, stand high‑rise structures built to ease the housing
demands of the one of the most densely populated countries in the
Although Amsterdam has many impressive buildings such as the
palace, the Stadsschouwburg, the Rijksmuseum, and the Concertgebouw,
it has few of the monumental royal and official buildings that mark
many other capital cities. Its charm derives from its 17th century
bourgeois mercantile and residential buildings, its many canals, and
its hundreds of bridges that make Amsterdam a splendid walking or
The Post and Its Administration Last Updated: 2/11/2004 5:12 AM
Located at Museumplein 19, the Consulate General’s office hours
for employees are 8:00 am to 5:00 pm. The Consulate General houses
the Embassy’s Consular Section for passports, visas and
notarizations and offices of the Department of Commerce. The
telephone number is (31) (020) 575‑5309. When the Consulate General
is not open, a recording gives the normal working hours and refers
emergencies to the mission duty officer.
Temporary Quarters Last Updated: 10/31/2000 6:00 PM
Laced with modern and centuries‑old hotels, Amsterdam offers many
types of accommodations for all budgets. The Consulate General has
developed contacts with some smaller hotels for those who wish more
modest lodging within granted allowances. Temporary furnished or
housekeeping apartments can sometimes be found, but are often
expensive. Advise the Consulate General of your arrival dates early,
for during the tourist season rooms can be hard to find. Storage
space is limited in both temporary and permanent housing in the
Netherlands, and assigned employees should store excess possessions
in Washington, D.C., rather than ship them to post.
Permanent Housing Last Updated: 8/3/2005 10:30 AM
There is no U.S. Government-owned housing in Amsterdam. The
General Services Office currently has short‑term leased properties
in both The Hague metropolitan area and the City of Amsterdam.
Housing in the Netherlands tends to be much older than in the United
States. Room sizes tend to run smaller in newer properties, and
fixtures are of European design. Additionally, storage and closet
space are less than American size homes.
Although American appliances are provided where resources, space,
and landlords permit, as a general rule European appliances are
provided. Such appliances normally have smaller capacities and
longer running cycles than their American counterpart.
It is the policy of the General Services Office to provide
adequate housing for all incoming government employees assigned to
the Mission. Government‑leased housing is comparable to housing
found in The Hague. Adequate housing in central Amsterdam is
difficult to find, and officers wishing to live close to the
Consulate General are often satisfied with smaller, older, and less
The city center often holds considerable appeal for many.
Employees with children may prefer living in the suburbs or outlying
villages where it is easier to find properties with yards. Commuting
from such outlying areas is relatively easy due to the efficient
public transportation system throughout the Netherlands. Biking is
often a preferred mode of transport.
Education Last Updated: 8/3/2005 10:32 AM
The International School of Amsterdam (ISA), founded in 1964, is
a private coeducational school. It offers an educational program
from toddlers (age 2) through high school. About 40 nationalities
are represented among the student body. The school term extends from
August to June, and the curriculum is that of U.S. public and
private elementary, middle, and high schools. Instruction is in
English. ISA offers a full IB program during the last two years of
high school. Instruction is in English. ISA shares some of its
facilities with a Japanese school, and some ISA students have taken
advantage of this opportunity to study Japanese.
The school is housed in a new modern complex with classrooms,
gymnasium, theater, library, auditorium, science laboratories, and
areas for recreation and sports. The student population varies
between 600-700. ISA is accredited by the New England Association of
Schools and Colleges (NEASC) and by the European Council of
International Schools. It is located to the south of Amsterdam in
Amstelveen, with excellent highway connections to all areas. The
school maintains an efficient bus fleet serving many residential
areas. Cost of bus service for is not included in the normal
tuition. Families with children at ISA may prefer living in
Recreation and Social Life
Sports Last Updated: 10/31/2000 6:00 PM
Sports facilities in Amsterdam for popular U.S. sports are
limited. Amsterdam has no public tennis or golf facilities; all are
operated commercially or by private clubs. Individual membership in
a tennis club confers the right to play daily during the April to
October season. Often a long waiting list exists to become a member.
For a few hundred dollars a year, you can rent indoor courts from
October to April for a designated hour each week. Group instruction
and special rates are available for children.
The closest golf course is about 30 minutes by car from post.
Yearly dues are reasonable, although the membership fees are
expensive. The two modern duckpin bowling alleys in Amsterdam are
expensive. The city also has six large indoor swimming pools and six
outdoor public pools. All offer group instruction for children.
Sailing and windsurfing are popular at numerous facilities in and
around Amsterdam. Soccer is the major national spectator sport.
Amsterdam boasts a well known team, Ajax, and has numerous soccer
clubs with a full schedule of games from September through June.
Foreign boys may be admitted to the amateur clubs. Teams play every
Sunday, weather permitting. Members are also expected to attend one
or more practice sessions a week, scheduled in the late afternoon or
Baseball enjoys some popularity and several Dutch amateur clubs
in and around Amsterdam accept foreign boys. Games are regularly
scheduled on Saturdays. As with soccer, members are expected to
attend one practice or training session a week. Clubs also have
softball teams for girls. Membership fees for both soccer and
baseball teams are nominal, but uniforms must be purchased.
Amsterdam has an American‑style professional football team, the
Admirals. Cycling is a popular pastime and a practical means of
transportation; good cycling lanes and paths abound in the city and
in nearby parks.
Entertainment Last Updated: 10/31/2000 6:00 PM
As the cultural and entertainment center of the Netherlands,
Amsterdam offers a wide variety of entertainment. An abundance of
theaters and concert halls exist in the city. The outstanding
Concertgebouw is world famous and season subscriptions are available
for a variety of performances, including those by the Nederland
Philharmonisch Orkest, Dixieland bands, and chamber music groups.
The newly‑opened Stopera is home to the excellent National Ballet
and the Dutch Opera company. Art lovers will find a wealth of
exhibits among the city’s 42 museums. The most famous are the
Rijksmuseum and the Van Gogh Museum, located on the Museumplein near
the American Consulate General. For those seeking lighter
entertainment, the downtown has a variety of nightclubs as well as
theaters where American and foreign films are shown.
Social Activities Last Updated: 8/3/2005 10:33 AM
An American Women’s Club is active in Amsterdam. Its main
activities include monthly meetings featuring interesting speakers;
trips to local towns, museums, and foreign countries; a variety of
classes; and coffee get‑togethers. It also distributes an
informative monthly magazine. Employees and dependents are also
invited to attend functions of the active AEG in The Hague. Other
organizations, such as the John Adams Institute, organize
well-attended lectures and discussion groups (in English) which are
popular with both Dutch and foreign citizens.
Personnel with consular commissions are eligible for membership
in the Corps Consulaire. Amsterdam hosts some 50 Consulates General
or Consulates; although most are headed by honorary officers. Rotary
and Lions clubs and other service groups exist in Amsterdam. You can
join a wide variety of hobby or special interest groups.
Notes For Travelers
Getting to the Post Last Updated: 2/11/2004 5:17 AM
United, Delta and Northwest are the American carriers currently
flying to Schiphol Airport from the U.S. Daily flights depart New
York, Boston or Washington, D.C. The GSO at your present post can
suggest the best routing in conformance with the Fly American Act
and other Department regulations. Check regulations carefully.
People not in compliance can be charged for the entire ticket. In
notifying the Embassy or Consulate General of your arrival time and
date, consider any date change. (Planes leaving New York in the
afternoon of 1 day, will arrive the next day at Schiphol because of
the time zone difference.) Newly assigned personnel and those
returning from home leave will be met if the Embassy receives timely
notification of arrival plans. Personnel on TDY and other official
visitors are expected to use public transportation because of time
and cost constraints. Train transportation to either Amsterdam or
The Hague from Schiphol is speedy and easily managed.
Customs, Duties, and Passage
Customs and Duties Last Updated: 8/3/2005 10:08 AM
Although no treaty governing customs is currently in effect, a
Netherlands Tariff Decree of 1947 provides free‑entry privileges for
official furniture, supplies, and personal effects of diplomatic,
consular, and clerical staff members and their families. These
privileges are valid on arrival and at any later time during
official residence in the country.
Personnel of other officially recognized U.S. agencies stationed
in the Netherlands and attached to the Mission are granted the same
privileges. However, import privileges have not been extended to
include technical representatives of private U.S. firms who perform
services under contract between their companies and the U.S.
All personnel granted free‑entry privileges may import, for their
personal use only, such items as food, clothing, tobacco, cars,
cameras, and other personal or household goods from the U.S. or any
other source. However, you must fill out and sign authorization for
each such shipment. Household effects (HHE) and personally owned
vehicles for both The Hague and Amsterdam should be consigned as
follows: American Ambassador American Embassy (Employee’s name) The
Pilferage has not been a problem. If possible, have your goods
crated and banded at your home. For transatlantic shipments,
carefully protect goods against water damage and against breakage.
Keep proper records of things sent and things left in storage.
Average transit time from the U.S. to the Netherlands for airfreight
is 2-3 weeks. Surface shipments take from 6 to 8 weeks or longer
since American carriers must be used.
Passage Last Updated: 10/31/2000 6:00 PM
The Netherlands Government requires that all U.S. personnel have
a valid passport on arrival. Travel orders and military
identification may be used in lieu of a passport for U.S. military
personnel on temporary duty. No special immunizations are necessary.
Bring a minimum of two passport‑size color photos of yourself and
each family member 12 years of age and older. These are required for
Ministry of Foreign Affairs identity cards. You may wish to have
additional passport‑sized photos for museum, bus and sports identity
Personnel driving across the frontier will encounter no
difficulties with their accompanied baggage or personally owned
Pets Last Updated: 8/3/2005 10:23 AM
Pets (cats, dogs, and ferrets) must have a veterinary certificate
issued by the veterinary doctor prior to entry to the Netherlands.
Once the document is signed by the veterinarian or endorsed by the
competent authority, the certificate is valid for four months, or
until the expiration date of the vaccination, whichever comes first.
The documents must include the following information:
A. Country of Dispatch of the animal
B. Owner accompanying the animal: Name, address, country,
C. Description of the animal: Species, breed, sex, date of birth,
weight, coat (color and type)
D. Identification of the animal: Microchip/tattoo number,
location of microchip/tattoo, date of microchipping/tatooing
E. Rabies vaccination: Manufacturer and name of vaccine, batch
number, date of vaccination, and expiration date of the vaccine. The
first vaccination is valid 21 days after the vaccination protocol
has been finished. The vaccination must be repeated either annually
or every two years in accordance with the type of vaccine used.
Make sure the microchip meets the ISO standard as outlined on
www.iso.ch. Note that it is required to have either a microchip OR a
tattoo on your pet. Pit bull terriers and any pit bull terrier cross
breeds are NOT allowed into the Netherlands. Pets other than dogs,
cats, and ferrets can enter the Netherlands with a health
certificate issued by your local veterinarian, and the health
certificate can not be older than 10 days upon arrival in the
Netherlands. For pets other than cats, dogs, or ferrets, see
www.international.FWS.gov to see if your pet is subject to special
If you have any further questions, please contact the
Agricultural Office at the Royal Netherlands Embassy in Washington
Firearms and Ammunition Last Updated: 2/11/2004 5:19 AM
U.S. Government personnel assigned to the Netherlands must
receive approval from the Chief of Mission prior to importation of
any firearm or ammunition. You must also obtain, through the
Ministry of Foreign Affairs, an import permit to bring guns into the
country and a weapon permit in order to keep guns at your home.
Before departure to the Netherlands, you should contact the Embassy
Regional Security Office and provide all the necessary information:
type of weapon, make, model, caliber, and serial number so that the
necessary diplomatic note may be prepared.
If the request is honored and a license is granted, it must be
renewed annually. Understand that the permit is only for weapons in
your possession at your home and for secure transportation to and
from a legitimate shooting club. Under no circumstances will the
Government of the Netherlands issue a permit for the carrying of a
concealed weapon. Hunting licenses will be issued within the
Netherlands only if you have received an invitation to hunt from a
Currency, Banking, and Weights and Measures Last Updated: 8/4/2005
The official currency unit in the Netherlands is the euro, based
on the decimal system. The euro is available in coins (.01, .02,
.05, .10., .25, 1.00, and 2.00) and in paper (5,10, 20, 50, 100,
500, 1,000). The euro is divided into 100 cents. Payments of all
sorts may be made in cash, by personal checks drawn on Netherlands
banks, or through bank or postal account transfers. The Netherlands
uses the metric system of weights and measures.
To set up an account, make an appointment with the bank branch
you would like to bank with. ABN-AMBRO, Fortis Bank, Rabobank, and
ING Group are common banking institutions found in the Netherlands.
All banks have websites in English, but for personal assistance
making an appointment with a bank representative is recommended. As
a non-EU resident, you will need both a work permit and proof of
registration with the IND. You also need a valid passport, proof of
residency from the GBA or other address verification documentation
(bills, contracts, etc), and a SOFI tax file number.
Larger stores do accept credit cards, but they are not as widely
accepted as in the US. Cash is the most common method of payment.
Pin and Chippen are also accepted. For example, you will find that
the train station ticket machines only accept cash, Pinnen (pin code
plus ATM card), Chippen, and Mastercard. Pinnen refers to the
4-digit pin code that when combined with the bank card that your
bank issues you that can be used for payment and to withdraw money.
Chippen (or chip card) refers to either the same card or a separate
one that does not require a code. The Chippen be preloaded with
money and used for quick transactions.
Getting Money Out:
It’s quite easy to withdraw money from ATMs (geldautomaten)
around the country. Most international ATM cards are also accepted
in these machines, but your withdrawal limit may be a smaller amount
and the bank may charge a service fee.
Weights and Measures:
0 C = 32 F
5 C = 41 F
10 C = 50 F
15 C = 59 F
20 C = 68 F
25 C = 77 F
30 C = 86 F
35 C = 95 F
40 C = 104 F
Simmering: 80 C = 180 F
Boiling: 100 C = 212 F
Low oven: 150 C = 300 F
Moderate oven: 180 C = 350 F
Hot oven: 200 C = 400 F
Very hot oven: 235 C = 450 F
1 pounds = 0.45 kg
1 kilogram = 2.2 pounds
American 5.5 6 6.5 7 7.5 8 8.5 9 9.5
Continental 35.5 36 36.5 37 37.5 38 38.5 39 39.5
American 7 8 9 0 11 12 13
Continental 39.5 41 42 43 44.5 46 47
American 6 8 10 12 14 16 18
Continental 36 38 40 42 44 46 48
American 14.5 15 15.5 16 16.5 17 17.5 18
Continental 37 38 39 41 42 43 44 45
American 34 36 38 40 42 44 46 48
Continental 42 44 46 48 50 52 54 56
1 inch 2.54 centimeters
1 foot 0.31 meters
1 mile 1.51 kilometers
1 meter 3.28 feet
1 kilometer 0.62 miles
1 tsp. 5 ml
1 Tbs. 15 ml
1 fl. oz. 30 ml
¼ cup 60 ml
½ cup 80 ml
2/3 cup 158 ml
¾ cup 180 ml
1 cup 236 ml
1 pint 0.47 liters
1 quart 0.95 liters
1 gallon 3.8 liters
1 liter 2.11 pints
Taxes, Exchange, and Sale of Property Last Updated: 2/11/2004
U.S. Government personnel and their dependents are not subject to
Dutch income tax on salary or allowances received from the U.S.
Government or other income generated outside the Netherlands. Income
received from employment within the Netherlands is, however, subject
to Dutch taxation. This is relevant for dependents who wish to work
under the Bilateral Work Agreement signed by the U.S. and the
Netherlands in 1987.
Personal property may be sold at the end of a tour of duty
without payment of taxes, but follow U.S. Government regulations on
the disposal of personal property. Special regulations apply to
personally owned vehicles. See the Transportation section for
The amount of foreign currency or negotiable instruments imported
into the country is not limited, and a full range of banking
services is available locally. Although foreign currency may be
exchanged in many places in the Netherlands, the Embassy and
Consulate General both provide an accommodation exchange and
check‑cashing facility for U.S. Government personnel and for
dependents whose sponsors have filed a power of attorney with the
The Embassy exchange rate changes daily and is based on the
exchange market rate. It is difficult to cash personal dollar checks
elsewhere. Maintain a U.S. checking account and arrange to have
salary allotments paid to that account. A U.S. account is also a
convenience in buying catalog goods from the U.S. and from military
exchanges and commissaries where payment must be in dollar
Recommended Reading Last Updated: 2/11/2004 6:01 AM
These titles are provided as a general indication of the material
published on this country. The Department of State does not endorse
At Home in Holland. American Women’s Club: The Hague, 1984.
Gazaleh-Weevers, Sheila. Here's Holland. City of Rotterdam
Information Department: Rotterdam, 1985.
Lijphart, Arend. The Politics of Accommodation: Pluralism and
Democracy in the Netherlands. University of California Press:
Mulisch, Harry. The Assault. Pantheon: 1985.
Newton, Gerald. The Netherlands: An Historical and Cultural
Survey, 1795-1977. Ernest Benn Ltd.: London, 1978.
Schama, Simon. The Embarrassment of Riches: An Interpretation of
Dutch Culture in the Golden Age. Alfred A. Knopf: New York, 1987.
Voorhoeve, Joris. Peace, Profits and Principles: A Study of Dutch
Foreign Policy. M. Nijhoff: Dordrecht/Boston, 1979.
Local Holidays Last Updated: 2/11/2004 6:08 AM
The U.S. Mission observes the following Dutch holidays in
addition to authorized American holidays:
Good Friday March-April*
Easter Monday March-April*
Queen’s Birthday April 30
Liberation Day May 5
Ascension Day Varies
Christmas Day December 26
*Date varies each year.