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International students struggle to enter Dutch clubs, bars, and more with foreign QR-codes

While the Netherlands may be welcoming its residents with proof of vaccination back to the dance floors, bars, restaurants, and theatre, not all are granted entry to these establishments โ€” namely international students from outside the EU.

Many internationals who have arrived in the Netherlands this year to study were vaccinated abroad โ€” and were likely looking forward to enjoying some lukewarm Heineken and bitterballen in a bar or two.

However, they are now struggling to enter bars, clubs, theatres, and restaurants with foreign proof of vaccination. As a result, many international students in the Netherlands are experiencing exclusion in place of a bop on the floor.

Ama Boahene, chair of the National Student Union (LSVb), tells NU.nl that “if students also cannot easily participate in social activities, exclusion and loneliness threatens.”

A quick recap

As of September 25, entertainment and catering establishments in the Netherlands may open their doors to patrons as long as they provide a ‘corona pass.’

READ MORE | Simply not possible: Amsterdam will not ask everyone for corona pass, mayor confirms

This is a QR-code that is generated through the CoronaCheck app and proves that a person has either been fully vaccinated, tested negative, or recently recovered from coronavirus.

READ MORE | How to get your vaccination from abroad registered in the Netherlands

While it is possible to register a foreign vaccination certificate in this app or scan an international QR-code, this is only the case for those who come from countries that use a vaccine certificate that meets the Digital Corona Certificate (DCC) standard.

Non-EU internationals struggle the most

All countries within the EU use certificates and QR-codes that meet the DCC standard. However, there are many non-EU countries โ€” such as the US and UK โ€” who do not use codes that align with the DCC standard.

As a result, the Americans, the Brits and many more are either left outside the club doors or must PCR test before each boogie โ€” no casual popping into the pub.

Urgency needed

Boaheme and her colleagues want to see this issue fixed โ€” and soon. “it is important that vaccination certificates from outside the EU are also approved. That has to happen really quickly.”

A spokesperson for the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport has indicated to NU.nl that the ministry is aware of this issue and is working to provide a solution to the problem.

Have you experienced this problem in the Netherlands? Tell us about your experience in the comments below!

Feature Image: vverve/Depositphotos

Sarah O'Leary ๐Ÿ‡ฎ๐Ÿ‡ช
Sarah O'Leary ๐Ÿ‡ฎ๐Ÿ‡ช
Sarah originally arrived in the Netherlands due to an inability to make her own decisions โ€” she was simply told by her mother to choose the Netherlands for Erasmus. Life here has been challenging (have you heard the language) but brilliant for Sarah, and she loves to write about it. When Sarah is not acting as a safety threat to herself and others (cycling), you can find her sitting in a corner of Leiden with a coffee, trying to sound witty.


  1. One can get US and UK (and other non-EU) vaccination certificates put into the Dutch system and the CoronaCheck app, but it requires a BSN and DigiD. Plus an appointment at the GGD office in Utrecht. This is a huge hassle for anyone who lives outside the Randstad. I spent โ‚ฌ70 travelling to get this done and that expense should not be required from a student! The government should allow this to happen at local or regional GGD facilities. It requires nothing but a computer so shouldnโ€™t be so hard. They also donโ€™t make this information easily accessible and I can imagine a lot of students have no idea this is even possible.

  2. Hi Sarah,

    I’m heading to Leiden in a couple of weeks. Have you any tips for a fellow Irish person in the lovely town?

    Regards Aaron.

  3. My son is a Canadian, fully vaccinated and visiting me for the first time in two years. He is appalled that if he wants to take me for a coffee or dinner he has to get a PCR test…self-tests not accepted and yet was given 2 free upon landing at Schipol! He is made to feel like a second class citizen. The authorities allowed him into the country with the documentation he possesses, but unfortunately, he canโ€™t even use the toilet facilities here! Yesterday it rained cats and dogs in NL. At least he had a welcoming home to retreat to…can you imagine poor tourists having to eat their meals outside in the cold, wind and rain? Very welcoming NL! Great way to make foreigners welcome…how can a government even think this way? Germany and France accept foreign docs! This is taking the bureaucratic mentality too far. Needless to say he is not going to spend any more time in NL…we are off to welcoming Germany and France!

  4. You say it’s possible to register a foreign EU vaccination certificate in the Corona check app but I can’t find a way to do that.

  5. We are Indian citizens who travelled recently after taking 2 dose Covishield vaccinations and certificate. To register and generate QR code in Coronacheck app we need to physically come till Utrecht ( almost 3 hrs journey back and forth) with same documents. We are even ok to travel and make sure everything goes fine.

    But now suddenly some new rules happened that our certificates should have vaccine Manufacturer details as well (rest vaccine name, batch details, passport all present).

    We don’t know how to handle this as its a certificate issued by Indian Government for all Citizens in the same format.

  6. Well I was at this bat at a city centre in Amsterdam and they checked out qr code and our I’d cards thoroughly. We proceeded inside and after a few hours we met some people who boasted how they were not vaccinated and would.never consider taking a vaccine. I was thinking, wait a minute, how did they get in? Be informed that they’re still letting people in at some places. I assume they knew the bouncer or were very local.

  7. I was informed that the vaccine lab is not the only thing checked. Also the manufacturer. Is that true? I got the Covishield vaccine but once the manufacturer is Fiocruz (Brazil โ€“ RJ) I was not able to make an appointment and register my vaccination certificate.

  8. The problem is not only for non-EU, but also for EU. I had the first dose in another EU country and the second dose in the Netherlands. Both the same vaccine and at the correct time, of course. I did so because I was invited by RIVM to get the second dose at the GGD, stating that I will have registered the full vaccination scheme and get the EU digital covid certificate (DCC). After 4 months from the second shot, it is not possible at all to register my first dose in the Netherlands. The Dutch government and institutions do not want to solve the problem and give vague answers based on “we don’t know enough to answer” or “you can take test” (!). This is frustrating and no-sense, since I don’t have even the option to go to the GGD in Utrecht. So if you got a non-EU vaccine in a non-EU country you can register for the DCC in Utrecht. If, as me, you have an EU-approved-vaccine administered in EU, there is no way to get the DCC and you cannot enter in many places, or take a flight that easily.

  9. As a vaccinated student from South Africa, studying in Eindhoven, I have experienced the same problems. I called the appriopriate department and they said they are aware of the problem, but there is no solution yet. Disappointing


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