Prior to hosting a MICE Event in Holland or travelling to the country, there are a few things that you should know about Holland that will make your trip easier. We’ve put together our top tips about Holland that you need to know when travelling to or planning an event in the country.
- Capital: Amsterdam (seat of the government is in The Hague)
- System of Government: Constitutional monarchy with a parliamentary system
- Area: 41,528 square kilometre
- Estimated Population: 16,400,000 inhabitants
With 17 million people and a population density of 488 people per km2, the Netherlands is the most densely populated country of the European Union and one of the most densely populated countries in the world. Amsterdam is the capital, but the government resides in The Hague.
The official language is Dutch, but almost everyone speaks English. In addition, many Dutch people speak German and French. The people in the province of Friesland speak Fries, in addition to Dutch.
As Dutch people are quite informal, etiquette is not a big issue, but you shouldn’t start a conversation with someone without introducing yourself. Always shake the person’s hand when introduced to them. The Dutch do a three-cheek kiss if you know the person starting on the left cheek (from your view). A “Sorry” for bumping into someone, or a “Dank u wel” (thank you) will go a long way.
The Netherlands has a temperate marine climate, with cool summers and mild winters. Rain is spread pretty evenly over the year. Summer temperatures average about 16 or 17 degrees Celsius but highs of 30 degrees Celsius are not unheard of. Winters are mild with increased rainfall and average temperatures of between 1 and 5 degrees Celsius. The most popular months to visit are between May and October when temperatures are at their highest and rainfall is at its lowest.
Holland is quite small; the surface area is 41,528 square kilometres. The greatest distance from north to south is 300 kilometres, and from west to east 200 kilometres. Holland is also one of the most densely populated countries in the world, with an average of 481 inhabitants per square kilometre. To the east, the Netherlands borders Germany, to the south Belgium, and to the north and west the North Sea.
Water dominates the Dutch landscape, resulting in a diverse landscape with dunes, beaches, countryside and cities.
The Netherlands is located in the Central European Timezone (GMT +1). This implies that the time difference with EST is +6 hours and with PST +9 hours.
The Netherlands is one of 12 European Union countries whose common official currency is the euro (€). 1 euro is divided into 100 cents.
By law, the service charge for dining at restaurants is included in the price of the meal. If you feel the service was exceptional, you can leave a tip (5%10%) in addition to the price on the bill. In bars and cafes, it is usual to round up or leave some small change on the table
VAT and Tax Refund
The general rate of tax in the Netherlands is 21%. Have you visited the Netherlands and shopped a lot? If you meet certain criteria you may be eligible for a VAT tax refund. This VAT refund can easily be settled in Schiphol Airport. The criteria for a VAT and Tax refund are as follows:
- You permanently live outside the European Union
- Your purchases amount to a minimum of € 50 per shop per day
- You take your things back home yourself, unused and within 90 days
At Schiphol, you can request the VAT back through various tax specialist organisations: Global Blue, GWK Travelex and Vatfree.com.
Amsterdam is an excellent place to spend hours (window) shopping! In the city centre, you’ll find a variety of shops open in the evenings, Sundays and even on holidays. There are always some exceptions, but the information below will provide you with a general overview of shop opening times:
- Monday: 13:00-18:00 (shops open later than usual)
- Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday & Saturday: 09:00-18:00
- Thursday: 09:00-21:00 (late-night shopping)
- Sunday: 12:00-17:00 (This primarily applies to the shops in the city centre)
The voltage in Holland is 220 volts. Hotels may have a 110-volt or 120-volt outlet for shavers, but travellers are advised to bring a power converter and an adapter for two-prong, round-prong plugs with side grounding contacts.
- Did you know, that the Netherlands has at least 15.000 km of cycle tracks
- Almost every Dutch person has a bicycle and there are twice as many bikes as cars
- People in Holland eat raw herring with onions on top
- The Netherlands’ highest point is 323 metres high and is therefore called a “mountain”
- The Dutch love their flowers and you’ll find fresh flowers in almost every Dutch living room
- When your plane arrives at Schiphol Airport, it lands 4.5 metres below sea level