While the rate of violent crime in the Netherlands is low, tourists are often targeted by thieves. Visitors frequently fall prey to pickpockets, bag snatchers, and other petty thieves who target automobiles and hotel rooms. You should use your room or hotel safe, and keep your baggage locked or secured when you’re away.
While thieves may operate anywhere, the U.S. Consulate General in Amsterdam receives frequent reports of thefts from specific areas. Within Amsterdam, thieves and pickpockets are very active in and around train and tram stations, in the city center, and aboard public transportation. Theft is especially common on trains to and from Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport and international destinations, where hand luggage and laptop computers are often targeted. Thieves often work in pairs; one distracts you, often by asking for directions, while the accomplice moves in on your momentarily unguarded property. The timing of these thefts usually coincides with train stops, enabling the thieves to escape. In addition, many U.S. citizens have reported the theft of purses and briefcases while eating in downtown restaurants, including hotel breakfast rooms. Never leave your personal items or baggage unattended when going to the restroom, buffet table, etc.
Although still relatively limited, electronic theft has increased dramatically in the Netherlands in recent years. In March 2012, the Dutch Banking Association reported 2011 losses at 92 million euros – nearly double that of 2010. Most of the theft involved “skimming,” a technique that copies bank card information. ATM and credit card users are advised to keep an eye on their cards at all times. If you feel uncomfortable using your card for any reason, use cash. Contact your credit card provider for further guidance.
Confidence artists have victimized U.S. citizens around the world, including in the Netherlands. Typically, a U.S. citizen is notified via email of a winning lottery ticket, an inheritance, or other offer requiring his or her assistance and cooperation. The U.S. citizen is asked to forward advance payments for alleged “official expenses,” “taxes,” etc. and, often, to come to Amsterdam to conclude the operation. Another common scam involves an Internet friend or partner who is reported to have been detained by immigration authorities in the Netherlands en route to the United States, and will not be released unless additional funds are paid to the “traveler.” In every case, these reports have been determined to be confidence schemes. Several U.S. citizens have lost tens of thousands of dollars in such scams. Funds transferred in response to such offers can rarely be recovered. Information on fraud schemes can be found on the U.S. Consulate General's website, and the Department of State's International Financial Scams page. If you suspect you have been targeted by a scam based in the Netherlands, you may report it to Dutch law enforcement authorities by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or at the following address:
KLPD, Financial Crimes Unit
PO Box 3016
2700 KX Zoetermeer
Attention: Project Apollo
The Dutch Embassy in Washington, D.C. has a prepared letter that can be used to inform the Dutch Police of fraud.
Do not buy counterfeit and pirated goods, even if they are widely available. Not only are the bootlegs illegal to bring back into the United States, if you purchase them you may also be breaking local law.
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