Can I Gain Entry into the Netherlands Without a Visa?

Can I Gain Entry into the Netherlands Without a Visa?

Each country has its own immigration rules determining which travel documents must be shown at the border to permit entry.  Citizens of Europe are luckier than most as a result of free movement rules (as members of the Schengen area) which permits visa-free travel.  In this article, we will explore the general visa requirements for entry into the Netherlands and the benefits of being a member of the Schengen area.

What is The General Visa Policy for Entry to The Netherlands?

Immigration policy in the Netherlands is controlled by the Immigration and Naturalisation Service (INS).  The best way of determining if you need a visa is to use the Visa Advisor website which asks a series of questions to determine your circumstances, whether you need a visa, and if so, what type.

There are a number of factors which will determine if you need a visa to enter the Netherlands, including how long you plan to enter for (i.e. under or over 90 days), the reason for entering, whether a close member of your family lives in the EEA and whether you have a valid residence permit for a country in the Schengen area.

In general, if you are from a country from within the Schengen area, then you will typically be allowed to travel to and enter the Netherlands without a visa. 

If you are transiting through an airport in the Netherlands as part of an international journey, in most cases you will not be required to apply for a visa (assuming you do not plan to leave the departure area of the airport).  You may require an airport transit visa if you are from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Congo (DRC), Eritrea, Ethiopia, Ghana, Iran, Iraq, Nigeria, Pakistan, Somalia, or Sri Lanka.

Nationals of other countries that are not part of the Schengen travel and business arrangement will generally need to apply for and have a visa granted before they travel.  If you are travelling to the Netherlands, you may require a Short-stay visa if you are planning to stay for up to 90 days, or a long-stay visa if for longer. 

There are 62 countries that are members of the Schengen Area for tourism or business purposes (many of these are from outside of Europe), which allows visa-free entry into Schengen Area countries in Europe.  Countries outside of Europe that are part of this arrangement include Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Australia, Bahamas, and Barbados. 

Under the Schengen arrangement, some travellers may still require a long-stay visa.  For example, nationals of the United States, Canada, and Japan can stay in the Netherlands for over 90 days without securing a long-stay visa, but nationals of Barbados would need to apply for a long-stay visa.

What Are the Conditions for Visa-Free Travel?

Until the end of 2020, even if you are entering the Netherlands without a visa, you will still need to meet a number of conditions, including:

  • You must hold a passport or travel document which was issued within the last ten years
  • Your passport or travel document must be valid for at least three months
  • You must have sufficient funds (and proof of these funds) to cover your costs for the whole of your stay in the Netherlands.  This is calculated based on an amount of €55 per day.  If you are unable to satisfy this financial requirement, if you can prove that another person has agreed to act as a guarantor for you, this may be accepted by the immigration service.
  • You must be able to explain the purpose of your stay to customs and immigration officials.
  • You must be able to prove you have travel insurance which will cover any potential covers medical expenses during your stay.
  • You must have a return or onward ticket.
  • You must not be considered a threat to public order, national security or international relations.

Travelling to Schengen Countries From 2021

From the start of 2021, those travelling to the Netherlands who do not need to apply for a passport will need to have prior authorisation to allow travel to a Schengen country.  This is referred to as a European Travel Information and Authorisation System (ETIAS). 

The ETIAS website states,“the ETIAS will undergo a detailed security check of each applicant to determine whether they can be allowed to enter any Schengen Zone country. While citizens of countries who do not need a visa for travel purposes of up to 90 days in the EU do not need to go through a long process of applying for the visa, the ETIAS will make sure that these people are not a security threat. This travel authorization system will gather, keep track of, and update necessary information regarding visitors to determine whether it is safe for them to enter Schengen countries. The ETIAS, besides being used for business and tourist purposes, will also allow people to visit the Schengen countries for medical and transit reasons. In addition, it will be mandatory for all countries who are Schengen visa-free”.

It is important to note that an ETIAS, which is rather like an Electronic System for Travel Authorisation (ESTA) used by the United States, is not a visa, it is purely to keep track of who is entering the area for security purposes (e.g. to prevent terrorism).

Final words

Compared with many other countries, the Netherlands visa system is relatively straightforward.  If you are from a country in the Schengen area, or which is party to the Schengen area for the purposes of travel and business, you may not require a visa at all.  For citizens from countries outside of this agreement, you will typically require a short-stay or long-stay visa.  Regardless of your situation, it is important to a) check the Visa Advisor website to verify if you need a visa, and b) check that you meet the conditions of travel listed earlier in this blog.  It is also advisable to check on the latest situation regarding who can travel into the Netherlands due to COVID-19. 

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