How safe is the Netherlands? The safety guide to visiting and living in Holland

Looking for info about visiting the Netherlands or moving here? If you’ve never been to Holland before, you’re probably thinking “despite all the lovely tulips and the windmills, is the Netherlands safe?”

Well, in theory no place is 100% safe, however, the Netherlands is a relatively safe country to live in. Currently, it ranks as the 21st most safe country in the world according to the 2021 World’s Safest Country index.

Despite this, we’ll give you the lowdown on what it’s like in the Netherlands and how to keep yourself safe in every situation. (Hint: most of it is common sense!)

How safe is the Netherlands as a tourist?

As a tourist, you are very safe here in the Netherlands. Of course, you still need to exercise caution when you are out and about (just because it’s considered safe, don’t do things such as flaunt your belongings of course). As the tourist, the thing you should be most concerned about is pick-pocketing, especially in Amsterdam.

Make sure that you keep your belongings with you at all times and keep your bags close your body. Pick-pocketing is considered a medium risk, so bear that in mind, but if you take precautions, the risk is low.

What is the most unsafe city in the Netherlands?

Statistically, Amsterdam is the most unsafe city in the Netherlands, but this is to be expected — it being the capital and all. Many of the issues that occur tend to be theft, pick-pocketing and drug-related crimes. Most of these can be actively avoided, but we’ll iron these creases out throughout the rest of the article.

Sex and drug Laws in the Netherlands

Prostitution is legal in the Netherlands, but pimping is illegal. Providing you go to visit a prostitute and she completely gives her consent, then it’s completely fine.

Prostitution is not only legal in the Red Light District in Amsterdam, but in general. The Red Light District is not unsafe, but like anywhere, it is safer to go during the day. And Pas op tourists! Pick-pockets are quite active in the area.

Picture-of-Amsterdam-Red-Light-District
The Red light district is relatively safe — but you should watch out for pick-pockets! Image: PublicDomainPicture/Pixabay

Cannabis can also be purchased from coffee shops throughout the Netherlands if you are 18+ and you will not be in trouble for carrying under 5 grams of cannabis on you.

It’s important to note that it’s not legal, but decriminalised, so as long as you stick to the rules, you will be fine.

Terrorism in the Netherlands

A question that is always brought up, is what about terrorism? With terrorist attacks occurring all around the Netherlands and throughout Europe, it’s natural to worry about it.

However, terrorism is still rare — as morbid as this is, you’re more likely to be killed in your car on the way to work. Do not be put off by moving to the Netherlands (and Europe) in general because of this.

The current terrorism risk for the Netherlands is ‘significant’ — this from the National Coordinator for Security and Counterterrorism (NCTV). This is medium risk.

Natural disasters in the Netherlands

Much of the Netherlands is below sea level, so in terms of environmental factors, the Netherlands can be considered unsafe in that way. With sea levels rising, the Netherlands is vulnerable to rising seas and the Dutch are battling with ensuring that the Netherlands doesn’t go under.

Thankfully, they have one of the best water management systems in the world such as the Delta Works, dikes and surge barriers. And so far, so good. If they weren’t so good at it, then it certainly wouldn’t be the place to be. In the past, lives were lost due to flooding and now it is generally unheard of. Therefore the actual risk right now is low.

READ MORE| Dutch cabinet declares flooding in Limburg a disaster — see what’s happening in the area

things the dutch don't talk about
The Netherlands fights hard to keep water at bay. Image: taskarmy.nl/Unsplash

Is it safe to travel to the Netherlands solo and as a woman?

Many people decide to travel solo and women in particular tend to ask if it is safe to do so. When it comes to the Netherlands, yes it is safe to travel solo and yes it is safe as a woman.

Of course, you still need to take regular safety into consideration, like not going out alone at night in secluded areas etc. Have your wits about you still, but in general it’s no more dangerous than most places.

Living in the Netherlands

Like many other places you still need to take precautions. For example, make sure to keep your house locked every time you leave, along with your car. This is especially true if you are away for more than a day (burglar alarms help here and tell a trusted neighbour that you’re gone). No valuables should be on show either.

We know the Dutch like to show their lovely homes with their open curtains, but if you’ve got a lot of valuables on display, it does make you more vulnerable to a break in.

That’s not the only thing can be unsafe when living here. Due to typical Dutch architecture, a fire in your home can be incredibly dangerous and not only damage your belongings but damage you! Make sure to install some basic fire safety equipment in your home (such as fire alarms, distinguishers and blankets). Tip: you can buy these cheap at Action.

Getting around the Netherlands safely:

Use generalised safety precautions in the Netherlands such as:

  • Ensuring that you aren’t walking alone in secluded dimly-lit areas at night if you can help it.
  • Always keep an eye on your children. 
  • Keep an eye on your belongings.
  • Make sure you are visible on the road: always have lights on your bike and don’t wear dark clothing.
  • Avoid going to parks at night alone.

If there is an issue, the police are here to help! 112 is the emergency number for the Netherlands.

If you are planning on coming to the Netherlands, then don’t forget to keep copies of all of your travel documents and keep them safe. It’s also a legal requirement to carry ID around with you at all times in the Netherlands, so bear this in mind. 😉 You’re all set! Enjoy being in the Netherlands.

Do you find the Netherlands safe? Let us know your thoughts in the comments!

Feature Image: D.Travnikov/Depositphotos
Emma Brown
A familiar face at DutchRevew. Emma arrived in Holland in 2016 for a few weeks, fell in love with the place and never left. Here she rekindled her love of writing and travelling. Now you'll find her eating stroopwafels in the DutchReview office since 2017.

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4 COMMENTS

  1. Carrying an ID is no legal requirement in The Netherlands !!!
    However one could be asked by law enforcement officier to identify yourself if, and only if, they have a valid reason to do so. In which case you could be punishable by law if unable to do so.
    Only applicable at the age of 14 and above.

  2. Hello, l would like to get some information on how the communities deter crime, what or how do the residents protect themselves, do they have a Crime group that gets together and walk around and check on vehicles to make sure they are locked, which is called Lock It or Lose It program.
    I am the President of our Crime Watch Association and being that my parents are from the Netherlands, to see the changes over the years on locking your doors to purchasing an alarm system, wow!! So, my interests is hoping to have a contact and discuss on the differences from Canada vs Europe on crime and the court system what are the steps taken to convict the criminal, programs for addictions. That is just a start, hoping to hear from someone, thank you,
    Bonny Swart

  3. Be aware young children get taken by so called “government officials” in Netherlands.
    There has been many instances where parents have to fight to get their children back from government and no Adequate Reason was given. See Elizabeth Salmin story
    https://www.elisabethanju.com/

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