Safety/Security in Amsterdam

Emergency number, police, ambulance and fire
tel: 112

24-hours Doctor
tel: 020 592 3434 (in English)

24-hours Hospital
Onze Lieve Vrouwe Gasthuis
’s Gravesandeplein 16
tel: 020 599 9111

24-hours Pharmacy
For the nearest 24-hours Pharmacy
tel: 020 694 8709

Left Luggage
There are locker rooms at Central Station and Schiphol Airport with 24-hours access.

Lost & Found
For insurance purposes, report lost items to the police
tel: 020 559 9111

Public Phones
You can dial long distance and international calls directly from any pay phone: most take phone card or credit card. Phone cards are available at most major post offices and newsagents, and can be bought in units of €5, €10and €25.

Directory Enquiries
tel: 0900 8008 (national)
tel: 0900 8418 (international)

tel: 0800 0101 (national)
tel: 0800 0410 (international)

Public transport Info
tel: 0900 9292 (hold for an English speaking operator)

Money changing
Don’t be fooled by the great price at which a place sells foreign currency. The price at which they buy currency will be much lower. Whatever you do, avoid “Chequepoint”. They have among the worst exchange rates in Town. Although that little voice inside you tells you not to change your money at the train station, that’s actually the best place to do it. The “GWK” Bank at Central Station has the lowest commissions and they’re open 24 hours a day. In Amsterdam (and in the rest of Netherlands) we use the Euro currency. There are 8 coins; 1, 2 and 5 cent, 10, 20 and 50 cent, 1 and 2 Euro coins. Then there are the bills; 5, 10, 20 and 50 Euro, 100, 200 and 500 Euro notes…. Not many places will accept the 500 Euro note however.
It always cost money to get foreign cash. Since credit cards don’t exactly change money, they can be a good way to pay (high interest rates on your unpaid balance notwithstanding). However, credit cards are widely used in Amsterdam and the rest of the Netherlands.

Amsterdam is the city of antiques, books, diamonds, and curiosities. In general, shop opening hours are 1-6pm on Mondays, and 9/10am-6pm Tuesday to Friday. Most have late night shopping on Tuesday till 9pm and close earlier on Saturdays, at 5pm. Some food retailers, like Albert Heijn stay open until 8 or 10 pm. On Sundays you can shop in the city centre, Kalverstraat, Damrak, Leidsestraat, and near the Noorderkerk.

Amsterdam is a safe city, and there is nothing to fear from walking in any part of the city. However, don’t leave your belongings unattended. When you’re in a coffeeshop, bar or restaurant, keep your bag very close, under the table, between your legs. As in every larger city, beware of pick pockets.

Dutch is the national language of Holland. However, English is spoken by nearly everyone in Amsterdam. In addition, many Dutch people speak German and French. Dutch is the mother tongue of well over 21 million Dutch people and Flemish people (Dutch- speaking nationals of Belgium).

The soft drugs are available in coffee shops. But don’t buy any drugs on the street. This is illegal, dangerous and, if caught by the police, the only trip you’ll make is down to the station. There are plenty of coffee shops around to have a relaxing smoke.

Red Light District
The camera in a slash/circle sign behind many of the windows, along with the furious tapping on glass of the women themselves will inform you that taking a camera into the Walletjes, Amsterdam’s red light district, is a serious breach of etiquette. One of the district’s security crew may remind you – destroy your film; may even ask you to leave, or break your arms. NO CAMERAS IN RED LIGHT DISTRICT!

Drugs Policy
For the record, trafficking in (importing or exporting), selling, producing and processing either hard or soft drugs are offences in Holland. However, the use of softdrugs is not an offence because the aim of Dutch policy is to prevent and limit the damage drug use causes both the individual and society. To this end, assistance is given to drug addicts to promote their rehabilitation, and to improve their physical and mental condition and their social circumstances. They are more likely to seek assistance because they need not fear prosecution nor risk being branded criminals. The possession of soft drugs for personal use (up to 30 grammes) is a summary, non-indictable offence.
Coffee shops can sell soft drugs without being prosecuted, providing they observe strict rules. The aim of this policy is to prevent users of soft drugs from becoming marginalised and prevent users of soft drugs from being exposed to more harmful drugs.

Liquor Laws
Sales of liquor
From the age of 16 it is legally allowed to buy beer and wine. To buy liquor you must be 18 years old. Alcoholic beverages are for sale at liquor stores and supermarkets. Supermarkets only sell beer, wine and alcoholic beverages with an alcohol percentage up to 12 to 13 percent.

Drinking and driving
It is prohibited to drive if you are over the 0.5 blood alcohol level. Driving under the influence is a criminal offence and applies to driving a car and riding a motor bike, scooter, moped or bicycle. You risk a fine of EUR 190,00 (between 0.54 – 0.8 blood alcohol level), EUR 220,00 (between 0.8 and 1.3 blood alcohol level) and EUR 660,00 or more if the blood alcohol level is above 1.3. If you are over 1.8 blood alcohol level your case will be taken to court. In addition to a fine, you may be temporarily banned from driving.

Hotel and catering industry
Bartenders, liquor dealers and cashiers must ask youngsters whom they sell alcohol to for proof of age. After all, it is often difficult to estimate somebody’s age. If proof of age cannot be supplied, you may be refused alcohol. The proof of age can be a passport or a driving license.

Smoking bans are not compulsory at work. However, increasingly more companies and public buildings are banning smoking as they are concerned for the health of their employees and want to create a healthier work environment. Most of these companies and public buildings have set aside areas where smoking is allowed. The Dutch Labor Law does not (yet) mention smoking specifically, however, does state emphatically that employees have the right to a healthy work environment with the least possible harmful influences.

Tobacco Act
Smoking bans have become effective as from January 1, 1990. The smoking ban applies to buildings that are managed and/or subsidized by the government.
Smoking bans apply in all public buildings owned by the national, provincial and local authorities. In buildings in which institutions, such as social cultural work, social assistance, health care, indoor sports and education departments, are located smoking is not allowed. It is allowed, however, to set aside separates rooms for smokers. No work, such as photocopying, may be carried out in these rooms. The smoking ban applies to over 50,000 public buildings and organizations.

Good to Know
Tourists covered by health insurance in their home country (with the exception of private patients) have the right to medical assistance in Holland in accordance with the Dutch health service, provided:
-care cannot be delayed until the patient returns to his/her country;
-an international insurance form or copy thereof is submitted to the doctor, chemist or hospital.

It is important that the treatment costs are settled directly between the doctor, chemist or hospital involved and the foreign department of the ANOZ Health Service, based in Utrecht. For this reason it is advisable to make several copies of your insurance policy before travelling. If the need arises you will have a copy of the policy handy to prevent having to pay on the spot. Holland has reciprocal agreements with all EU countries and Morocco, Yugoslavia, Cape Verde, Tunisia, Turkey and Sweden.

The cost of transporting patients to and from Holland is not the responsibility of the Dutch health service ANOZ. Tourists from a country with which Holland does not have an international agreement are urged to take out travel insurance before departure. If you use medication, we recommend you pack a prescription in Latin.

You do not need any inoculations for Holland.
It is safe to drink tap water.

Health care: the standard of health care – and other social services – is very high, with an unusually high proportion of national income devoted to public health.
Certain medications may be brought into Holland provided you have a doctor’s prescription.

For police assistance, fire or ambulance emergencies, dial 112 anywhere in the country.

In general, the following advice applies: travellers with health problems or when undertaking long trips should obtain specialized advice.

How to claim your refund in Holland
As a non-EU resident, you are entitled to claim back the tax you pay on your purchases when you take them home. The VAT, 19%, of the net purchase price amounts to 15,97% of the purchase price. Your refund is the percentage of the purchase price minus an administration fee. Your goods must be exported within 3 months plus month of purchase.

In the store
Shop wherever you see the Global Refund TAX FREE SHOPPING sign. If you spend more than € 137 in
one store in one day, always ask for your Global Refund Cheque.

When leaving the European Union from Amsterdam Airport Schiphol
At landside:
Before check-in, please go direct to the Global Refund Cash Refund Office in departure hall 3, (opposite check in desk 22). Simply show your purchases, receipts, passport, ticket/s and Global Refund Cheques. The Global Refund personnel will check your export goods. Get your refund by immediate cash, direct crediting to a chosen credit card, Dutch bank account, or bank cheque sent to a chosen address.

At airside/ for hand luggage:
After check-in at the transit desk, please go direct to the Global Refund Cash Refund Office. Simply show your purchases, receipts, passport, ticket/s and Global Refund Cheques. The Global Refund personnel will check your export goods and a refund will be given.

When the Global Refund Office is closed:
Please visit customs on landside at terminal 2, and on airside at terminal 3. Show your purchases, receipts, passport, ticket/s and your Global Refund Cheques will be stamped by customs officials. You can cash your stamped Global Refund Cheques at ABN Amro bank on airside at terminal 2.

When leaving the European Union from other exit points
Go to customs before you check in. Show your purchases, receipts, passport, ticket(s) and Global Refund Cheques to get your forms validated by a customs stamp. Get your refund by credit card or cash at one of our more than 160 International Cash Refund Points worldwide.

Things to avoid in Amsterdam
Taking a car into the center
Parking is difficult and expensive in the city, with parking regulations strictly enforced. The clampers work day and night, and seem to pay particular attention to foreign cars. If your car is clamped, a yellow sticker on the window tells you where to pay the fine of EUR 67,00 before the clamp is removed. If the fine is not paid within 24 hours, your car will be towed away.

Tram riding without a valid ticket
A strip of tickets, or strippenkaart, that you self-stamp on board can be bought in advance from newsagents, train stations, post-offices and other outlets. Single tickets from the driver or conductor at the back seat once you get-on will cost a bit more. Getting caught will cost you EUR 60.00 at the place.

Avoid walking along the bicycle lanes
The lanes are usually clearly marked with a bike symbol on the way. These are express-roads through the city in which the bike rules. Avoid walking on, and standing in bike lanes looking at maps, chat around, etc. This drives locals mad. When you hear a bike bell, get quickly out of the way.

Avoid the following areas at night
The side streets around Nieuwendijk, the Southern end of Zeedijjk, the streets off and the Damrak are not recognized to be entirely safe

Reporting stolen credit cards
American Express
020 504 86 66
Diners Club
020 557 34 07
0800 022 58 21 (cards issued outside of The Netherlands)
030 283 55 55 (cards issued in The Netherlands)
0800 022 41 76 (cards issued outside of The Netherlands)
020 660 06 11 (cards issued in The Netherlands)

Police Stations
Emergency Number: 112
Lijnbaansgracht 219, Amsterdam
0900-8844 (e. 0.028 p.m.)
Beursstraat 33, Amsterdam
0900-8844 (e. 0.028 p.m.)
Prinsengracht 1109, Amsterdam
0900-8844 (e. 0.028 p.m.)
Nieuwezijds Voorburgwal 104-108, Amsterdam
0900-8844 (e. 0.028 p.m.)
Keizersstraat 3, Amsterdam
0900-8844 (e. 0.028 p.m.)
Marnixstraat 148, Amsterdam
0900-8844 (e. 0.028 p.m.)


Central Medical Service
Phone: 0900 5032042

Amsterdam Hospitals 
AMC, Meibergdreef 9, Amsterdam (020- 5669111)
Onze Lieve Vrouwe Gasthuis, Eerste Oosterparkstraat 279, Amsterdam (020-  5999111)
Sint Lucas Ziekenhuis, Jan Tooropstraat 164, Amsterdam (020- 5108911)
VU, De Boelelaan 1117, Amsterdam (020-4444444)
Boven-IJ Ziekenhuis, Statenjachtstraat 1, Amsterdam  (020 6346346)
Slotervaart Ziekenhuis, Louwesweg 6 (020) 5124113


Amsterdam Pharmacies (Apotheek)
24-hours Pharmacy
For the nearest 24-hours Pharmacy
tel: 020 694 8709

Damstraat 2
020 6244331

Het Witte Kruis
Rozengracht 57
020 6231051

Werstenstraat 180
020 6249252

Koek Schaeffer & Van Tijen
Vijzelgracht 19
020 6235949

Utrechtsestraat 86
020 6244333

De Vogel
Kattenburgerplein 38

Wittop Koning
Overtoom 81-83

Leidsestraat 74-76

Utrechtsestraat 86