Can I take my assistance dog with me everywhere I go?

Assistance dogs are specially trained to help people with disabilities in their day-to-day lives. Your dog helps you live the way you want to, just like everyone else. You can take your assistance dog into shops and many other indoor spaces.

Where assistance dogs are allowed

Some of the places you can take your assistance dog (sometimes referred to as a service dog) inside with you are:

  • public buildings like a municipal office or library
  • restaurants, cafés and hotels
  • shops
  • banks
  • sports facilities and gyms
  • public transport and taxis.

Types of assistance dogs

Assistance dogs are trained to help people with everyday tasks. Some reasons people may have an assistance dog include:

  • a visual impairment
  • deafness
  • a physical disability such as missing limbs 
  • a psychological disability such as autism or PTSD
  • epilepsy
  • diabetes.

Assistance dogs are allowed inside in places where other dogs are not. You can often tell they are assistance dogs because they are wearing a vest or harness with the name or logo of their dog training school. Sometimes the owner will also have a card from the dog training school. This makes it clear that the dog has been specially trained and will behave.

There are also therapy dogs for people who need short-term help. Different rules apply to these dogs. They are not always allowed into places where assistance dogs are allowed.

Where assistance dogs may not be allowed

There are some places where assistance dogs are not allowed, for instance because it would be unhygienic or unsafe for them to be there. These include:

  • some hospital departments, such as intensive care units
  • places where food is prepared, such as restaurant kitchens.

Objecting when your assistance dog is not allowed inside

If someone tells you that you can’t bring your assistance dog inside with you, explain that the law does not allow them to refuse entry to the dog. If that doesn’t help, ask the Netherlands Institute for Human Rights for advice.

Travelling to the Netherlands with your assistance dog

Assistance dogs often ride for free on a plane, train, bus or boat. They can only be barred if it would be unsafe to have them on board. You may need additional documents for your dog, such as a reservation if you are travelling to the Netherlands by air or rail. Prepare carefully for your trip. Visit the website of your travel company to find out what rules apply when travelling with an assistance dog.

Depending on where you are travelling from, there are different rules for bringing an assistance dog into the Netherlands. For instance: