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What to bring

21 Oct 2009

Deciding on what to bring (and also: what NOT to bring!) is not always easy. On this page, you will find information on clothes to bring, customs regulations on hand luggage, travelling with children and electrical goods.

Clothing

The Netherlands can be said to have four seasons. Generally, rain is a mainstay throughout the year, and while the coldest part of winter does not last long, it can sometimes seem to last forever.  Winter days are short and very often hung with gray clouds. The upside of that is that the summer days are long; it may not get dark until 10pm. Tempuratures range from 2°C in January/February to around 20°C in July/August. Weather can change quickly, and several times per day, so it is advised to bring clothes that are good for layering. It may be cool and breezy one minute, and warm and sunny the next as the sun breaks through the clouds.

The Netherlands is a multi-national country with no dress code. Dutch people tend to dress casually, but neatly. Even in the work place, dress codes are often quite relaxed.

See our orientation section orientation for more regional and climate information.

Hand luggage

Before setting off to the airport, make sure you have checked the following:

Duty free regulations for the EU
When travelling from outside the EU, you are allowed to bring in the following, provided you travel with the items and do not intend to sell them:

  • 200 cigarettes; or 100 cigarillos; or 50 cigars; or 250 gms of tobacco
  • 2 litres of still table wine
  • 1 litre of spirits or strong liqueurs over 22% volume; or 2 litres of fortified wine, sparkling wine or other liqueurs
  • 60cc/ml of perfume
  • 250cc/ml of toilet water
  • other goods up to a maximum value of € 430

Import restrictions
Generally, beef and pork products are not allowed, nor are many dairy products or flowers with soil. Other restrictions change often. Check the Dutch customs website or the homepage of the airline you are flying.


Security guidelines
No sharp instruments and flammable items are standard.

Travelling with children

Some tips to keep the little ones entertained whilst in the car or on the airplane:

  • Give your children a bag with toys and books to occupy them on the journey.
  • Take a change of clothes - accidents do happen!
  • Take snacks. Airline feeding schedules may not match your child's needs, or their food may not be to his/her liking.
  • Take extra diapers and baby food as airlines often do not carry these products. (You may want to double check with the airline you are flying to be sure.) 
  • Take a bottle or the child to suck on during take-off and landing to avoid/lessen ear pain due to pressurization. Try chewing gum for older children.
  • If you have a DVD player or other audio entertainment for your kids, bring earphones in order to be considerate of other passengers. 
  • Keep a close watch on children in the airport. The departure halls are busy and full of interesting, but dangerous things for kids (i.e. the luggage belts).

Electrical goods

The voltage in all of Europe is 220-230 volts and 50 cycles. In the USA and Canada it is 110-115 volts and 60 cycles. Voltage can easily be converted with the use of transformers on most appliances (up to 1,000 watts). These may be bought from expats leaving The Netherlands or from most hardware stores.

Most personal electronics will have adaptable voltage. Laptop computers and MP3 players (wall charging) most certainly can be used without a converter. For other appliances such as DVD players, TVs, hair dryers, etc. it will depend on the model. In this case, all you need is an plug, which is different than a converter in that it does not change the voltage, merely the shape of the plug.

Electrical plugs in the Netherlands have two round pins. Sometimes there is a third round "grounding" pin that sticks from the wall plug into the appliance plug.

Check first: To find out the acceptable voltages for your appliance, look on the plug. Somewhere the details will be written. If you don't see it, keep looking. It is always there somewhere, perhaps in the same color as the plastic itself. If the appliance has some sort of box on the cord, it will be written there.

For high-wattage appliances (up to 2,000 watts) such as deep fryers or mixers, appropriate transformers may be more difficult to find. Generally, household appliances with large motors do not preform well with transformers andyhow, and may burn out quickly. In these cases it may be more economical and convenient to purchase new appliances.

What's the difference: adapters, transformers and converters?

  • Travel Converters (omzetter/omvormer):  
    In many travel/luggage, elecronic and duty free shops, these are available for up to 1,600 watts. These are oversized adapters, which reduce the voltage from 220v to 110v. These are for use with small appliances such as electric razors, curling irons, etc. They are not suitable for clocks or refrigerators and probably not strong enough for most electronic devices.
    Replacement parts and service for your home appliance may be difficult to find. Water and electricity outlets may not be sufficient. A transformer will not change frequency cycles, so machines with moving parts will not operate quite smoothly. European appliances are generally smaller (60cm width).
  • Plug Adapters (tussenstuk):
    Universal adapter kits are difficult to find in the Netherlands. You will need universal adapter kits in order to use small appliances and if you plan to use non-European appliances with transformers. You can buy these adapters in duty free or luggage stores or electrical supply stores in your country.
  • Transformer (transformator):
    Transformers have a heavy metal core and reduce the voltage from 220v to 110v. They are much heavier then converters and quite expensive. You may need several for use in the kitchen or with the stereo or computer, etc. Be aware that the continual use of a transformer may cause premature failure of the appliance.



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