Taking a taxi in the Netherlands can be a complicated business. Unless you know the ropes it can be a confusing and expensive experience. But not anymore – here is the full low down on the 11 things you need to know before taking a taxi in the Netherlands!
You have landed at Schiphol Airport. You are filled with excitement at the thought of Amsterdam’s iconic pebbled streets and visiting your first coffee shop. You can’t wait for that gezellig feeling you will get once you have sipped on a glass of beer while peering out of your hotel window.
Fuelled by fantasies of windmills, tulips, canals and bikes, (and Dutchies!), you embarked on your plane looking for new adventures. Welcome to the Netherlands. But hold on, not so fast, how can you get around effectively and safely? And most importantly, how will you be able to go sightseeing?
In this article, we have compiled all the essential information you need to know about taxis in the Netherlands. You will learn how to spot official taxis, receive tips on how to get a good fare, be shown alternative taxis and discover how to file a complaint. We’ve done all the legwork for you. So, open up that bottle, relax and read on. Here are some pro tips so that you don’t have to worry about transport during your vacation.
1Taking a taxi in Amsterdam: How can you spot an official taxi?
First things first – before you’re in the taxi, you need to find a real one. Unfortunately, unlicenced taxis do exist in Amsterdam, so to find a real one make sure you can see the following:
- A driver’s licence that can be read and seen inside the taxi.
- A blue number plate.
- A tariff card visible on the inside and outside of the taxi.
2Taking a taxi in Amsterdam: where can you find a taxi?
Like most cities, you can hail any taxi that is driving down the street, easy! But, if you’re having no luck make sure you’re not in a bus or tram lane – it’s illegal for taxis to stop in these areas.
Tourist areas where you’ll easily find a taxi include Rembrandtplein, the Dam and Leidseplein. Look out for the 50 blue signs sprinkled around the city marking taxi stops.
A good alternative to hailing would be to book a taxi through the phone. They can also help you with fare advice.
And, warning: at Schiphol Airport, beware of ‘recruiters’ trying to grab your attention. They’ll lead you to unlicenced taxi drivers who pay them for the service.
3Taking a taxi in The Netherlands: taxi fares
How taxi fares are calculated is complicated, but, for a rough idea about the fares, the 30-minute ride between Schiphol Airport and downtown Amsterdam will cost you approximately €45.
The main company for taxis in Amsterdam is Taxi Centre Amsterdam (TCA). To see the approximate cost of a trip check out their fare calculator. While most drivers will run the meter by default you can also attempt to make a fare agreement with them before entering the taxi. Once the meter starts this is no longer possible.
Almost all taxis will accept cash, and some also accept credit cards. Make sure to check with the driver what options they have. If riding with TCA you can also download their app for a fixed-fare service and other payment options including PayPal.
4Help! Taxis are too expensive. What can I do?
5Taking a taxi in the Amsterdam: What about Uber?
A phone app makes everything better! You can order an Uber without having to deal with call anxiety. Plus, Uber has a reputation as being cheaper than taxis most of the time.
Although you can conveniently pay with your credit card, the downside is that they do not accept cash.
6Taking a taxi in Amsterdam: never use an unlicensed taxi
There is truth behind the adage “if it is too good to be true, it probably is”. If someone is offering you a suspiciously low price for a taxi ride it’s time to walk away. They will conveniently ‘forget’ the low price offer by the end of your drive.
Unlicensed taxis have become a big problem for Amsterdam. The local Dutchies – known for their directness – refer to the cab rank in front of Amsterdam Central Station as the ‘Gaza Strip’.
Here is a little history to give you some perspective on how the situation has deteriorated so drastically. A ‘Taxi Law’ was put into place by the federal government in 2000. Prior to that, there were strict rules and it was difficult to obtain taxi licences.
The ‘Taxi Law’ was designed to halt the monopolisation of TCA. However, this backfired horrendously. Instead, the quality of drivers plunged and drivers began to select customers based on the intended distance, despite it being illegal.
Pro tip: If you think a taxi driver could be scamming you, make sure to remove all your luggage from the vehicle before attempting to dispute the price. There is a chance that they could drive away with your belongings out of spite.
7Taking a taxi in Amsterdam: scams do occur
Some taxi drivers view international passengers as money-filled prey. Amsterdam Shallow Man has an incredibly informative and funny article that goes into detail on some of the scams, but here is some quick advice when taking a taxi in Amsterdam:
- Beware of the driver setting a high minimum price. If you ask the driver why they’re charging more than the maximum amount, you’re likely to be told that this is the “night rate” that is charged in Amsterdam. Do not believe this. The official taxi tariffs for Amsterdam can be found here.
- Pretend you are a local and definitely don’t say it is your first time in Amsterdam. A whiff of that tourist smell and they will take you twice around the city for “sightseeing”.
- Never agree on a fixed price. Always use the meter. If not, you will definitely have to pay the inflated price.
- Do not agree to take the highway because the charges are per kilometre. You will get to your location more quickly, but there will be a hefty price to pay.
- Be wary of them ‘forgetting’ to turn on the meter. This is always on purpose. Don’t be a fool.
8Taking a taxi in The Netherlands: can you share a taxi with a stranger?
Taxi sharing is not common, but it does exist and could be a solution to avoid exorbitant costs. Deeltaxi (share taxi) is a service that allows people to share a taxi with other passengers at a more sensible rate. Train stations don’t always reach the far corners of the Netherlands so this service is essential for those living far away.
But, that does mean that they do not exist near train stations in large and bustling cities like Amsterdam. There is a different share taxi service in each region of the Netherlands. To find your nearest one, call: 0900 9292.
Tip: You can also check out ViaVan. It is a phone app that is similar to Uber, but it charges much less. It is used in Berlin, London and New York City as well.
9Taking a taxi in Amsterdam: which taxi company should I call?
We have put together an array of options so that you are never stranded during your trip.
10Taking a taxi in the Netherlands: Need to file a complaint?
Tell the driver. You have the right. Don’t keep it bottled up inside! If you cannot arrive at a solution with the driver then you can submit a written complaint to the taxi company. You can demand a complaint form from the driver or you can find it online.
You must remember the date and time of your journey as well as the registration number OR the licence plate of the taxi. If you don’t have enough information or evidence, you can submit your laments to the National Taxi Complaints Office on 0900 202 18 81 (EUR 0.13 per minute). They will then forward your complaint to the right taxi company.
11Experiences with taking a taxi in the Netherlands
What is it really like to take a taxi in Amsterdam? We asked our readers in the DutchReview Group (join us!) for their experiences.
“My experience of taxis in Amsterdam was absolutely phenomenal! Way better than in Bali. The taxi drivers were fun and enthusiastic. Some of them were like psychiatrists. My partner and I at the time had a phenomenal time getting escorted to parties and restaurants around town.” – Joey Marissa.
“After a recent return flight into Schiphol which was delayed by 3 hours, I had no real choice other than to get a taxi home to Rotterdam. The bill was €171. €171 !!!!!” – Ian Lockley
“I had a job interview and had come over for the first time so wanted to be on time. Hotel called the taxi and I SHOWED him the address on my paperwork – I was suspicious as he put something else in the SATNAV and after about 10 mins I felt we were going the wrong way and said so. Oh, he said misunderstood what you said!!!! Anyway he turned around, got there on time but he charged me 45 euros – no apologies – for a journey I now know would have been a 20 minute walk!!! Try to avoid cabs at all costs now.” – Wendy Hilton.
Good luck on your next taxi adventure! Any other things one should know when jumping into a taxi in the Netherlands? Please make sure to share your experience in the comments below.
Feature image: Nationaal Archief/ Flickr