Getting a Schengen or tourist visa for the Netherlands can be easy or difficult, depending on where you come from.
There’s a lot of information available online so here’s an easy-to-read one-stop guide for all the visa options available if you want to visit the Netherlands.
Maybe you live in the Netherlands and have family or friends visiting, or perhaps you’re embarking on a Dutch adventure yourself. Either way, we have all the information you’ll need to get that visa sorted.
Start planning now so that once it’s safe to travel again, you won’t have to scramble with logistics — you’ll be cruising around the canals and tulip gardens before you know it!
First things first: which passport do you have?
The type of visa you’ll need not only depends on what you are going to do in the Netherlands but which passport you hold. If you have a passport from any of the countries within the EU/EEA or Switzerland, you will not need any visa to travel to the Netherlands.
However, if you don’t have a passport from these countries (barring a few exceptions), then you will need a visa to travel to the Netherlands.
The Immigration and Naturalisation Services of the Netherlands has a list of countries that come under this rule. Check it before you make your travel plans because for some countries like Australia, Canada, the USA, etc. a visa is not required.
Remember that if you’re exempt from a visa requirement, you can stay in the Netherlands for a maximum of 90 days, spread over a 180 day period.
This rule is different if you have a passport from Antigua & Barbuda, Bahamas, Barbados, Brazil, Mauritius, Saint Kitts & Nevis, and Seychelles, according to the IND website. You can stay for three months within a six month period.
Be sure to check the list to see the requirements for your specific country if you plan to visit the Netherlands. You can use the short-stay calculator to figure out how many days you can stay depending on your nationality.
Types of visas: why are you visiting the Netherlands?
If you’re making travel plans, or if you’re just passing through the airport to get to your next destination, there are different visas that would apply to you.
These visas are for short-term stays, and should not be used in the same capacity as a residence permit. You can stay and travel through the Netherlands for a maximum of 90 days, or just transit through the country.
There are four types of visas:
- Schengen visa or tourist visa,
- transit visa,
- return visa, and
- MVV authorisation for a temporary stay.
The Schengen visa is the only one which is purely for tourist purposes.
As of late 2022, nationalities including Brits, Americans, Australians, Japanese and Mexicans will require an ETIAS visa waiver to visit the Netherlands or any other EU member state.
This travel document will be valid for 3 years from the date of issue, allow you to visit for up to 90 days in a 6-month period, and will cost €7. You can find out more on a travel visa service like Byevisa.
Schengen or tourist visa for the Netherlands
Do you need a Schengen or tourist visa for the Netherlands?
The Schengen visa is the visa you need to apply for if you have a passport from one of the listed countries, and if you’re coming for tourist purposes, visiting family, or a business trip.
This visa will allow you to stay in the Schengen zone (including the Netherlands) for up to 90 days. These 90 days can be spread over a period of 180 days and allows you to travel through all the Schengen countries.
This is not to be confused with a residence permit and does not allow you to work in the country or any other Schengen country.
It’s always handy to know the local language before you go to a foreign land. Learn a few Dutch words before you come here, and blend in with the locals!
Single or multiple entry: What does your itinerary look like?
If you choose to only travel through the Schengen zone, you can apply for a single entry visa.
This means that once you depart from any of the countries, you will not be allowed to re-enter. Another thing to keep in mind is that if you choose this option, you have to leave the Netherlands and the Schengen zone and will be able to apply for a visa only after 90 days.
If you choose to apply for a multiple entry visa, you will be able to leave the Schengen zone and re-enter without having to apply for another visa.
Remember, the Schengen zone is different from the European Union, so if you’re planning to travel to Bulgaria or the UK, you will need to apply for this type of visa. Did you know that we now have a train that goes from Amsterdam or Rotterdam, all the way to London?
Once you have a tentative plan in place, it’s time to get your documents together and start preparing for your visa application appointment.
What documents do you need for a Schengen visa?
Get your checklist writing shoes on — this is going to be a long one!
- A valid travel document like a passport which is valid for six months from the date you enter the Netherlands.
- Two passport photos which meet the Dutch passport photo requirements.
- Show your travel purpose. You can do this with your hotel reservations or an invitation from a company in the Netherlands. If you’re staying with a friend or family, you will have to submit a form to show proof of sponsorship and/or private accommodation.
- Proof that you can support yourself or anybody else accompanying you for the trip. You can do this submitting bank statements, traveller’s cheques or cash. You need to show you have enough for at least 34 euros a day.
- Medical insurance that is valid during your trip. It’s also worth considering taking on Schengen travel insurance, but this is not compulsory.
- Proof of return to your country of origin. You can do this by showing an employer’s declaration, proof of enrolment at a school, that you own your own house, or a return ticket.
How and when do you apply?
After you have all of these documents together, get an appointment at the Dutch embassy where you’re residing (this can be your country of origin or a country where you have a valid residence permit), and pay the visa application fee.
It is recommended that you apply for the visa at least three months before your travel date, and you only reserve (and not finalise your booking) until you have heard back about the decision. The assessment can take anywhere between 15-30 days before you hear back. You can contact your Dutch embassy for an update about your application.
Where do you go to get your visa?
As soon as your visa application has been approved, you have to get another appointment at the Dutch embassy or consulate where you applied and drop off your passport to have the visa sticker stamped. This sticker will tell you the validity of your visa, and an indication of whether it is a multiple or single entry visa.
Once you have this sticker, you’re good to start preparing for your trip!
Have you done everything right and set those travel dates in stone? Find out everything you need to know before you come to the Netherlands for the first time.
If you’re looking for somewhere tourists don’t frequently go, why not try one of the many national parks for a hike under the sun?
The Netherlands is a small country, and it is easy to go on day trips to many places while setting up base in one of the central cities. The country is relatively safe to visit, and super easy to get around (check our guide for public transport).
Have you applied for a tourist or Schengen visa? Do you plan to? Tell us in the comments below!
Feature Image: Dariusz Sankowski/Unsplash
Editor’s Note: This article was originally published in February 2019 and was fully updated in May 2021 for your reading pleasure.