Certain nationalities require a tourist visa to stay in the Netherlands for up to three months, or a transit visa even if only passing through en route to another country.
Depending on your nationality, if you are coming to the Netherlands for up to three months, or even passing through en route to another destination, you may need to apply for a short-stay visa.
What is a short-stay visa?
There are two types of short-stay visas:
- The A-visa is an airport visa for those who are merely changing planes in the Netherlands (i.e. not leaving the airport);
- The C-visa (sometimes called a Schengen visa) is for visitors who will be staying in the Netherlands for up to 90 days/three months, within a six-month period. This may be required for a holiday, to visit friends or family, business trips, or spending a few days in the Netherlands en route to another destination.
Schengen area visa
The Netherlands is one of 26 countries making up the ‘Schengen’ area: Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and the Netherlands. They have one common visa and no border controls between them.
Who needs a short-stay Dutch visa?
Nationals from: Afghanistan, Angola, Bangladesh, Colombia, Congo Democratic Republic, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Iran , Iraq, Nepal, Nigeria, Pakistan, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Sudan , Sri Lanka or Syria.
Everyone, unless you are an EU/EEA/Switzerland national, or a national from one of the following countries: Andorra, Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Australia, Barbados, Brazil, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Costa Rica, Croatia, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Hong Kong [holders of BNO (British National Overseas) Passports and Hong Kong SAR passports (Special Administrative Region)], Israel, Japan, Malaysia, Mauritius, Mexico, Monaco, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Saint Kitts and Nevis, San Marino, Seychelles, Singapore, South Korea, the Bahamas, USA, Uruguay, Vatican City or Venezuela.
If you’re a citizen of Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Macedonia, Moldova, Montenegro and Serbia, you will only need a visa if you have the old-style, non-biometric passport.
If you are a citizen of Taiwan, you don’t need a visa if the number of your ID card is also included in your passport.
If you have a residence permit or long-stay visa issued by another Schengen country, you don’t need a visa to visit the Netherlands for less than three months.
Requirements for short-stay visas
You will need to fulfil the following general requirements:
- You must have a passport or identity document (ID);
- You must be able to give a specific reason for your visit;
- You must have ‘sufficient means‘ for your trip;
- You must have adequate travel medical insurance (not required for A-visas);
- There must be ‘no risk of settlement’. The authorities need some assurance that you have no intention of coming to live in the Netherlands permanently;
- You must ‘not constitute a risk to public order, national peace or national security’ (e.g. not have a criminal record or cases pending – if you need further advice about your own situation, contact the IND).
How to apply for short-stay Dutch visa
Where to go
You have to apply via the Dutch embassy or consulate in the country you’re living in, so check out their website for where to go as they may have a dedicated visa centre. You will have to make an appointment and go in person with a completed application form (usually downloadable from the embassy website), ID and any accompanying documents.
If you’re going to be spending a few days in the Netherlands en route to another country in the Schengen area, you have to apply at the embassy or consulate of the country that will be your final destination.
Check with the Dutch embassy or consulate in case there are any specific requirements but as a rule, you’ll need to take two passport photos and the following original documents along with you:
- A valid ID document, for example, a passport, which should be no more than 10 years old and valid for three months longer than the date specified at the end of the visa period;
- Information about the reason for your trip, for example, a hotel reservation, invitation from a company to attend a conference or a ‘proof of sponsorship’ form completed by a person sponsoring (vouching) for you;
- Proof that you have enough money for the trip – at least EUR 34 per day. You could take bank statements or traveller’s cheques, for example. If you don’t have enough money yourself, you will need a relation to complete a ‘proof of sponsorship’ form (see above) and include evidence of their own income (click here for current amounts), their employment contract and three payslips;
- Proof that you have medical insurance for the duration of your trip, with a minimum coverage of EUR 30,000;
- Some evidence of reasons why you will be returning to your country of origin, for example, an employer’s declaration, home rental agreement or proof of home ownership;
- Your travel reservation/ticket, although it’s safest to confirm your reservation only after your visa has been granted.
There’s a fee to pay for the application itself, which is not refunded if your application is refused. The embassy or consulate might charge additional administrative fees, and if you have a sponsor who is sending a sponsor’s declaration, there may also be a fee back in the Netherlands to ‘legalise’ the signature.
Currently, an adult visa costs EUR 60. The visa is free if you are:
- under six years old;
- a student or teacher coming to study or for training;
- an academic researcher;
- aged 25 or under and coming to take part in non-profit organisational events;
- a family member of an EU/EEA/Swiss citizen.
Fees will be reviewed mid-year, so check the latest fees here.
Under Dutch law, it should take no more than eight weeks to get a decision, although the exact timescale for processing visa applications may vary, so check with the Dutch embassy or consulate handling your application.
The earliest you can apply is three months before you want to travel. Don’t make a firm booking for your trip until you’re sure the visa will be granted.
What happens next?
If your application for a visa is successful, the embassy of consulate will put a sticker into your passport. This will specify the start and end dates of the visa, and the number of days starts from the first day you enter the country.
If your application is rejected, and you’re eligible to register an objection, the letter that comes with the rejected application will tell you how to do this. You usually have four weeks to write to the Immigration and Naturalisation Service (IND), setting out the reasons why you disagree with their decision. You can do this yourself, or have a legal/authorised representative or lawyer do it on your behalf. You can apply for legal aid if necessary. Allow 12 weeks for this procedure to take place.
Once you have your short-stay visa
On your arrival
When you arrive in the Netherlands, if you’re staying for more than three days, you must report to the Aliens Police where you are staying within three days of your arrival – it’s a punishable offence not to do so.
If you’re booked into a hotel, they will contact the police on your behalf (you don’t have to do anything).
If you’re going to be in the Netherlands for less than three days, there’s no requirement for you to go to the police.
You can work on this visa but only if your employer has obtained a work permit (TWV) for you.
How long do short-term visas last?
The A-visa is for transit only while the C-visa allows you to enter the Netherlands and stay for up to three months in a six-month period.
Extending or applying for another visa
You cannot extend this visa, apply for a residence permit once you’re in the Netherlands on this visa, nor return home and immediately re-apply for another short stay visa to return to the Netherlands for a further three months (i.e. you can’t use a series of short-stay visas to prolong a stay in the Netherlands).
If you want to stay in the Netherlands for longer than the three months, you must return to your country of origin (or country of continuous residence, i.e. where you have official permission to live for more than three months – this is not a short stay visa) and apply for an MVV and/or residence permit through the Entry and Residence Procedure (TEV). You can find out how to apply for these visas by reading Dutch provisional residence permits (MVV) and temporary residence permits.