Straightforwardness, courtesy, and efficiency are highly valued in Dutch business culture. Keep the following guidelines in mind when conducting business with the Dutch:
- Honest, open discussions are appreciated. Boasting and insinuation are frowned upon.
- Reply promptly to requests for price quotations and other information.
- Punctuality is expected. Always try to be on time for appointments. If you know that you will be late, be sure to phone ahead and explain why you are running late.
- The Dutch like to use their time efficiently. Spontaneity is not seen as desirable. Schedule meetings far in advance.
- It is best to refrain from using first names in initial correspondence.
- A firm handshake (under normal circumstances) and proper eye contact are crucial for effective face-to-face interactions.
Bear in mind that Dutch executives frequently take extended vacations during July and August, and in late December. Avoid planning a business trip to the Netherlands in the summer or around Christmas.
The State Department Consular Information Sheet for the Netherlands can be found on the State Department’s travel website.
The Netherlands is a signatory of the Schengen Agreement. As such, U.S. citizens may enter the Netherlands for up to 90 days for tourist or business purposes without a visa. If you are traveling for any other purpose, you may need to obtain a visa. Your passport should be valid for at least three months beyond the period of stay. The 90-day period begins when you enter any of the Schengen countries. Anyone intending to stay longer than 90 days must obtain the appropriate visa issued by the Dutch government. Detailed passport and visa information is available on the website of the Dutch Embassy in Washington DC.
U.S. companies that require travel of foreign businesspersons to the United States are advised that security evaluations are handled via an interagency process. Visa applicants should go to the following link: State Department visa website.
The euro is the official currency of the Netherlands. ATMs are widely available. U.S. debit and credit cards are accepted at most points of sale.
The telecommunications infrastructure in the Netherlands is highly developed. U.S. cellular telephones can be used throughout the country and (free) Wi-Fi is widely available.
The Netherlands uses plug types C and F, so an adapter is required for U.S. electronics. The power supply is 230 volts (220-240 volts alternating current).
The transportation infrastructure in the Netherlands is considered to be one of the best in the world. The main airport in the Netherlands, Amsterdam Schiphol Airport, offers daily direct flights to over 20 U.S. cities as well destinations around the world. The public transportation system in the Netherlands is modern and reliable. The rail network connects cities throughout the country as well as Belgium and Germany (and on to the rest of Europe). Various modes of public transport are available within cities and towns, including buses, trams, and ferries. The Netherlands has an extensive network of well-maintained roads and highways. Visitors should revue basic traffic rules before driving in the Netherlands. Major rental car companies operate at Schiphol Airport and locations throughout the country. Taxis are available at designated taxi stands and can be requested by telephone. Uber is available in large cities.
Dutch is the official language of the Netherlands. English is widely spoken and can be used in commercial correspondence.
Health and sanitation standards in the Netherlands are very high.
Local time, Business Hours, and Holidays
The standard time zone for the Netherlands is Central European Time (CET) / UTC +1 (six hours ahead of Washington DC for most of the year). Daylight saving time is observed from the last Sunday in March until the last Sunday in October.
Business hours in the Netherlands have become more varied in recent years. It is always a good idea to check online for exact times. Offices and banks are generally open Monday through Friday from around 8:30 a.m. until around 5:30 p.m. Retailers are generally open from Tuesday through Friday from 9 a.m. until 5:30 p.m. Many stores open later on Mondays and have reduced hours on weekends. Cities generally have a dedicated shopping night each week when stores are open later. Supermarkets in large cities tend to be open on Sundays and stay open until 10 p.m. during the week.
A full list of local holidays can be found on the U.S. Embassy The Hague website.
Temporary Entry of Materials and Personal Belongings
Detailed information on the customs rules for travelers entering the Netherlands from outside the European Union can be found on the Dutch Tax and Customs Administration website.