Travelling to the Netherlands: exemptions to the entry ban
For some travel purposes entry restrictions to the Netherlands are being eased. Whether you can travel to the Netherlands depends on your situation.
Check whether your situation allows you to travel to the Netherlands and, if so, what conditions apply.
Exemptions to the entry ban
Exemptions to the entry ban in the interests of the Dutch economy and society
From 21 September, anyone travelling from a country to which an entry ban applies whose purpose of travel will have demonstrable value for the Dutch economy and Dutch society may travel to the Netherlands under the following conditions:
- The relaxation of entry restrictions is only possible if you have submitted an application for travel to a Dutch embassy, stating reasons for your journey, that meets the following conditions:
- You hold an invitation from an organisation registered in the Netherlands or from the Netherlands Foreign Investment Agency (NFIA), confirming a meeting or visit.
- The appointment is urgent and must take place in person.
- One or more of the following conditions must be met:
- The visit relates to potential direct foreign investment in the Netherlands of considerable size which will lead to:
a. the creation of at least five new jobs, or
b. investment of at least € 500,000.
- The visit relates to potential direct foreign investment in the Netherlands that will contribute to:
a. strengthening Dutch innovation capacity, or
b. making the Dutch economy more sustainable, or
c. further digitalisation of the Dutch economy.
- The visit is of major economic importance to a specific organisation based in the Netherlands:
a. The Dutch-based organisation the business traveller intends to visit must have a staff of at least 10 FTEs and/or an annual turnover of €2 million.
b. A visit is of major importance if, for example, it is essential to the organisation’s day-to-day operations, and/or the creation and/or retention of jobs, and/or the stability or growth of turnover.
- Once the embassy has assessed the application it will issue the traveller with a note verbale giving permission for the planned trip. If it has any doubts, the embassy will consult the Netherlands Foreign Investment Agency (NFIA) in The Hague (if the application concerns a foreign investment) or the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ International Enterprise Department (DIO) (if the application concerns foreign trade). You and the business you are visiting must sign a declaration stating that you are making an essential journey that has demonstrable value for the Dutch economy and Dutch society, and meets the criteria specified above.
- You must show the note verbale to the Dutch border authorities (the Royal Military and Border Police).
- You must also be in possession of a return ticket as well as a confirmed hotel reservation.
- If you require a visa, the regular visa application conditions continue to apply.
- The regular border procedures based on the Schengen Borders Code apply.
- This means that the Royal Military and Border Police will check whether you meet all the conditions. You must also have a valid travel document and, if necessary, a short-stay visa. This depends on your nationality. The Royal Military and Border Police have the right to refuse you entry if there is a valid reason to do this.
- In order to mitigate the public health risk as much as possible, you are urgently advised to keep your visits to the Netherlands as short as possible and to limit your contact with others. Dutch rules on self-quarantine are fully applicable, with the exemption of your business meetings.
- To further reduce the risk, a limit has been set on the number of travellers that may enter the Netherlands each month under this scheme.
- You must observe the coronavirus measures that apply in the Netherlands.
Exemptions to the entry ban for elite athletes and their support staff
From 14 September, elite athletes and their support staff from a country to which an entry ban applies may travel to the Netherlands under the following conditions:
- Elite athletes and their support staff must have a note verbale or a letter of invitation from the Netherlands Olympic Committee (NOC*NSF) or the Royal Netherlands Football Association (KNVB) and if possible valid proof that they are participating in an international sporting event, tournament or match at the highest level, officially recognised by an international sports federation with which the Netherlands is affiliated.
- Any elite athletes and/or support staff who require a visa must comply with all the applicable conditions, including sufficient financial means for their travel and accommodation and guarantees for a prompt departure. A guarantor’s declaration from the sport federation in the Netherlands is sufficient. The scope for return may be taken into account when the decision on the application is made.
- The elite athlete and their support staff must have a return ticket.
- The supporting documents referred to above (i.e. the note verbale, letter of invitation, statements, return ticket and, if applicable, guarantor's declaration) must be submitted to the border authorities (the Royal Military and Border Police) on arrival in the Netherlands.
- The regular border procedures based on the Schengen Borders Code apply. This means that the Royal Military and Border Police will check whether the elite athlete and their support staff meet all the conditions. The elite athlete and their support staff must also have a valid travel document and, if necessary, a short-stay visa. This depends on their nationality. The Royal Dutch Military and Border Police have the right to refuse the elite athlete and their support staff entry if there is a valid reason to do this.
- The elite athlete and their support staff must observe the coronavirus measures that apply in the Netherlands.
Exemptions to the entry ban for professionals in the cultural and creative sectors
From a social and economic perspective, it is important that the cultural and creative sectors are once again able to invite professionals who are at the top of their field worldwide to come to the Netherlands to collaborate on special projects of an exceptional quality, including shows, performances, exhibitions and creative development activities. That is why entry restrictions are being eased for professionals in these sectors. The purpose is to create an exemption for unique initiatives that substantially add to what is already being done in the Netherlands in the area of arts and culture.
Only those professionals who can demonstrate that their visit will be beneficial to Dutch social, cultural and economic interests will fall under this exemption category. This may include directors, conductors, choreographers and non-substitutable soloists, as well as restorers and conservators, for example.
The following framework is to be used as a basis for assessing applications for exemption. The Performing Arts Fund (Fonds Podiumkunsten, FPK) is responsible for assessing applications.
The exemption to the entry ban applies only to professionals who can demonstrate that their visit will be beneficial to Dutch social, cultural and economic interests. In principle, this is the case when:
- The work falls within the scope of an activity for which a cultural or creative organisation receives a multiyear grant from Dutch central government or from one of the central government culture funds for the period 2017-2020 or 2021-2024;
- Because of their unique skills or qualities, the professional in question has been invited by the Dutch cultural or creative organisation concerned to engage in work for which they will be compensated;
- The professional’s physical presence and participation is necessary for the overall execution of the activity in question; and
- The income generated by this activity contributes substantially to the financial situation of the organisation concerned. This demonstrates the economic added value of the professional’s visit.
- The FPK must have approved the Dutch cultural organisation’s letter of invitation on the basis of the above-mentioned criteria. The professional in question must be in possession of the statement confirming that they have met the requisite criteria.
- The professional must have a return ticket (open return tickets are also acceptable).
- If the traveller requires a visa, the usual conditions for applying for a visa still apply in full.
- The regular border procedures based on the Schengen Borders Code apply. The Dutch border authorities always retain the right to refuse a traveller entry if there is a valid reason to do so.
- To minimise health risks, professionals are advised to keep their visits short and to limit their contact with others. Dutch rules regarding self-quarantine also apply to visiting professionals, although an exception is made for activities that are necessary for carrying out the work for which they have travelled to the Netherlands.
- This framework applies exclusively to those professionals who meet the conditions. Family members of professionals do not fall under the framework.
- A cultural or creative organisation draws up a letter of invitation for the professional in question. This letter indicates that the above-mentioned conditions have been met. It also indicates that a specific form of collaboration has been agreed upon.
- The organisation must submit this letter of invitation to the FPK, together with a document setting out why the professional’s visit is necessary. Submitting the letter of invitation can been done digitally, provided that the signed original remains available for verification.
- The FPK assesses the application for exemption, if necessary in consultation with another one of the central government culture funds.
- The FPK then issues a signed statement, using the same format as that of a note verbale.
- The host organisation sends their letter of invitation and the FPK’s statement to the professional in question. This can be done digitally, provided that the signed original remains available for verification.
- Upon arrival in the Netherlands, the professional presents the statement from the FPK to the border authorities – the Royal Military and Border Police (Koninklijke Marechaussee).
- If the professional in question is required to have a visa, they must submit the statement to the Dutch representation when applying for a visa.
- In the exceptional case that a cultural or creative organisation wishes to invite a professional from abroad to the Netherlands for work that does not fall within the scope of a multiyear grant from Dutch central government, the organisation must submit their letter of invitation to the Minister of Education, Culture and Science. If the minister approves it, the process will continue via the FPK, which will then issue a statement in the same way it would for professionals invited to the Netherlands by a grant-receiving organisation.
Journalism benefits from rapid reporting at the location where events are unfolding. It is important to ease the entry restrictions in order to preserve freedom of the press and facilitate reciprocity. This will enable foreign journalists from other countries to report on newsworthy events that take place in the Netherlands.
The target group is news journalists who have an International Press Card (IPC) issued by the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and who are engaged in topical news reporting that requires their immediate, physical presence.
The following framework is to be used as a basis for assessing whether a journalist can enter the Netherlands.
International Press Card
- Only news journalists who can demonstrate that their wish to enter the Netherlands is directly related to the performance of their work as a journalist fall under this exemption category.
- This is demonstrated by possession of an International Press Card issued by the International Federation of Journalists.
- The card is issued through a national organisation of journalists in the country of origin. The IPC is issued only to working journalists who are members of IFJ-affiliated journalists’ organisations.
- Before an IPC is issued to a news journalist, the journalists’ organisation carries out a thorough check to verify that the journalist concerned is a working professional. Only practising journalists are permitted to apply for the card.
- The IPC bears the name and photograph of the journalist and a unique card number. Each national journalists’ organisation maintains a database containing the names and card numbers of its members.
- The telephone numbers of all affiliated countries and journalists’ organisations can be found on the IFJ website.
- The Dutch Association of Journalists (Nederlandse Vereniging van Journalisten, NVJ) has drawn up a standard letter explaining what an IPC is and requesting that the holder be admitted to the Netherlands. The letter is not person-specific and therefore does not contain the name of the journalist in question. Journalists must download the letter from the NVJ website and present it along with their IPC at the border.
- When a journalist travels to the Netherlands to engage in topical news reporting that requires their immediate, physical presence, they must possess an IPC in order to enter the country.
- The journalist must also be in possession of a return or open-ended ticket.
- If the journalist requires a visa, the regular visa application conditions apply.
- The journalist must be able to present all the aforementioned documents – an IPC, the standard letter issued by the NVJ, a return or open-ended ticket and, if necessary, the requisite visa documents – in order to prove they qualify for exemption.
- These documents must be presented to the border authorities upon arrival in the Netherlands.
- The regular border procedures based on the Schengen Borders Code apply. The Dutch border authorities are at all times authorised to refuse a news journalist entry if there is a valid reason to do so.
- Journalists must comply with the measures to combat the spread of coronavirus in the Netherlands, but they are exempted from the self-quarantine measure for activities that are necessary to carry out the reporting for which they travelled to the Netherlands.
- This framework applies exclusively to news journalists who meet the conditions. Family members of news journalists do not fall under the framework.
Journalists who are exempted from the entry ban should self-quarantine for 10 days upon arrival in the Netherlands. An exception is made only for activities that are necessary for carrying out the work for which they have travelled to the Netherlands.
Due to restrictions aimed at slowing the spread of coronavirus it is not possible to travel to the Netherlands from a number of countries. Researchers from a country subject to an entry ban may travel to the Netherlands under certain conditions as of 16 October if their work has demonstrable value for the Dutch economy and Dutch society. The exemption applies, for example, to public health researchers.
Conditions for research trips to the Netherlands
You may travel to the Netherlands for research if:
- Your research meets the criteria necessary to qualify as ‘essential’ to the economy and society. If you meet these conditions, you fall under the ‘highly qualified professionals’ exemption category. This exemption applies to citizens of non-EU countries who by virtue of their specialist skills or knowledge are needed to assist with the economic recovery of the EU after the pandemic. The exemption also applies to persons who have a residence permit under the Council Directive concerning the EU Blue Card system (Directive 2009/50), the Intra-Corporate Transfer (ICT) Directive (Directive 2014/66) or Directive 2016/801 (as it pertains to researchers), or who have a national permit for highly qualified third-country nationals, but have not yet been able to travel to the EU because of the entry restrictions. An important criterion is that your physical presence in the Netherlands is urgent and essential.
- As a researcher you meet all of the applicable conditions.
- Your stay in the Netherlands will be shorter than 90 days.
- If you intend to stay longer than 90 days, please refer to the IND to apply for a residence permit as a researcher.
- Family members of researchers do not fall under the exemption.
- No more than 250 researchers are allowed entry per month.
Documents required for entry into the Netherlands
If you meet the conditions for admission to the Netherlands for research purposes, you must present the following documents at the border:
- A letter from the Netherlands Enterprise Agency (RVO) recommending your admission to the Netherlands under the exemption for researchers. A printout of a digital copy of the letter may be presented, provided that the signed original remains available for verification.
- Proof that you have a return ticket.
- A visa, if required.
The regular border procedures based on the Schengen Borders Code apply.
Applying for an exemption to the entry ban
The procedure for applying for an exemption to the entry ban as of 16 October 2020 is described below.
Submitting requests to the Netherlands Enterprise Agency (RVO)
- The host research organisation must submit a request to the RVO for an exemption to the entry ban, on the researcher’s behalf, using the digital request form. The request asks for basic information and must include a statement by or on behalf of the researcher and the letter of invitation from the recognised host organisation.
- Requests must be submitted by a university, research institute or research company located in the Netherlands which is recognised by the IND as a host organisation (referred to as a ‘recognised sponsor’ by the IND) within the framework of EU Directive 2016/801 (PDF download) and which, in this specific case, will benefit from the researcher’s admission to the Netherlands.
- If the request meets the requirements and the maximum number of admissions for the month has not been reached, the RVO will recommend that the researcher be admitted to the Netherlands for the purpose of conducting research. The RVO will provide a letter that the researcher can present to border authorities upon arrival. The researcher may present a digital copy of this signed letter, provided that the signed original remains available for verification.
- It takes up to two weeks to assess requests. Requests must therefore be received by the RVO at least two weeks prior to the journey. Requests that are not received in time and incomplete applications will not be processed.
Requirements for letters of invitation
- The letter of invitation must be signed by a recognised host organisation within the framework of EU Directive 2016/801 (PDF download) which, in this specific case, will benefit from the researcher’s admission to the Netherlands. The letter must state that a specific form of collaboration has been agreed upon and that the researcher’s presence in the Netherlands is necessary in the interests of the Dutch economy and society. More information about the requirements and criteria can be found on the RVO website.
- The signed letter of invitation may be submitted digitally, provided that the signed original remains available for verification.
If you have any questions about the procedure, you can contact the RVO.
Researchers who are exempted from the entry ban should self-quarantine for 10 days upon arrival in the Netherlands. An exception is made only for activities that are necessary for carrying out the work for which they have travelled to the Netherlands.
Applying for a visa
If you are a researcher and a citizen of a country subject to a visa requirement then the usual short stay visa procedure applies.
Please note: do not apply for a visa unless you can submit your application to an embassy or External Service Provider and you are actually able to travel to the Netherlands. Also check the International Air Transport Association (IATA) conditions for international travel.