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Preface Last Updated: 2/10/2004 8:59 AM

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 its future.

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 today.

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 round.

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 diminishing degree.

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 taxes.

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 telecommunications sectors.

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 received.
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 specifications.
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 drivers license.

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:
Full Name
U.S. Embassy, The Hague
PSC 71, Box 1000
APO New York 09715

International Postal Service:
Full Name
American Embassy
Lange Voorhout 102
2514 EJ, The Hague
The Netherlands

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 appointments.

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 AM

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 door.

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 prices.

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 necessary.

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 acquaintances.

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 language schools.

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 languages.

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 youngsters.

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 States.

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 world.

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 biking city.

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 roomy apartments.

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 Amstelveen.

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 early evening.

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. Government.

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 Hague, Netherlands.

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 cards.

Personnel driving across the frontier will encounter no difficulties with their accompanied baggage or personally owned vehicle.

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, telephone number

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 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 to see if your pet is subject to special requirements.

If you have any further questions, please contact the Agricultural Office at the Royal Netherlands Embassy in Washington DC.

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 private landowner.

Currency, Banking, and Weights and Measures Last Updated: 8/4/2005 5:00 AM


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.

Banking Account:

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.

Making transactions:

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:

Weather Temperatures
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

Cooking Temperatures
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

Shoe sizes
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

Clothing sizes
American 6 8 10 12 14 16 18
Continental 36 38 40 42 44 46 48

Men’s shirts
American 14.5 15 15.5 16 16.5 17 17.5 18
Continental 37 38 39 41 42 43 44 45

Men’s suits/overcoats
American 34 36 38 40 42 44 46 48
Continental 42 44 46 48 50 52 54 56

Linear measure
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

Liquid measure
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 5:49 AM


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 information.


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 cashier.

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 instruments.

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 unofficial publications.

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: Berkeley, 1968.

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
Whitmonday Varies
Christmas Day December 26

*Date varies each year.

Adapted from material published by the U.S. Department of State. While some of the information is specific to U.S. missions abroad, the post report provides a good overview of general living conditions in the host country for diplomats from all nations.
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