Netherlands is a beautiful country, which borders the North Sea, Belgium and Germany, with diverse culture showing reflections of Dutch and the foreign immigrants. The country, with plenty of tourist attractions is home to a range of historical paintings and replicas of Dutch buildings with rich Dutch architecture. The country is often referred as the home to some of the great philosophers and painters, whose famous works draws a bundle of tourists here.

Certain customs which are perfectly acceptable in one country might be totally proscribed in another. There are many different types of traditions that are very important to Dutch cultural heritage. Some ideas about the language etiquette, dressing manners, tipping and greeting behavior can make your travel and stay at Netherlands ever etched in memory. Dutch people are quite formal and etiquette is not a big issue but, here is a list of some do’s and don’ts for a Netherland trip.

The Dutch society is egalitarian and modern. The people are modest, tolerant, independent, self-reliant, and entrepreneurial. They value education, hard work, ambition and ability. According to the Dutch culture people of Netherlands are very direct or outspoken towards each other and strangers. They merely consider this as a sign of honesty and trust. It is good to go with their flow. But when it comes to behavior in public places or crowds, loud or proactive behavior is not appreciated. Do shake hand upon meeting someone. As per their culture, start a conversation only after introducing yourself. Kissing three times on alternative cheeks is a typical custom followed here while greeting or bidding farewell to a close friend. Dutch people give more importance to time and punctuality. Try to be on time in meetings and do not attempt to cancel or reschedule the meetings on last minute. They also place high value to cleanliness and neatness.

Tipping is not mandatory in Netherlands. Legally the service charge is included in the meal cost itself but if somebody feels the service is exceptionally good a 10% tip can be given in addition to the bill. They generally eat with fork in the left hand and knife in the right hand. Eating manners other than this is considered awkward here. Dressing style of Netherlands is similar to America. Business dress is fairly conservative, but it depends on the profession. Casual clothing is preferred for sightseeing. Shorts, however is acceptable only when jogging or hiking. Smoking is prohibited in many areas of Netherlands. Always ask before lighting up.

Basic awareness about the local laws and penalties are worth knowing while traveling to Netherlands. Under Dutch law everyone over the age of 14 is required to carry identification, such as a valid passport, driver’s license, identity card or Dutch residency card, at all times. Organize a variety of ways to access your money overseas, such as credit cards, travelers’ cheques, cash, debit cards or cash cards. Netherlands is a good destination for independent travel with good public transportation.

When planning your travel to Netherlands, be sure to review the travel guides, the best places to visit and the country etiquette for insights on how to travel well and travel safe.

An interesting procedure to go through for getting married in the Netherlands is the registration of ‘ondertrouw’, meaning the ‘intension of getting married’.

Ondertrouw = Engagement?

Officially, this intension of getting married is a religion procedure, where couples commit themselves into starting their new life by having an official wedding in churches. The procedure is still valid nowadays, but it’s more an official legal procedure then religion practice and has been turned into another reason for celebration.

A Must Have Document for Marriage

To get married in the Netherlands, you need an official ‘ondertrouw’ document, which is valid for a year. In other words, if you do not get officially married in a year’s time, you need to go over the ‘ondertrouw’ procedure again… which is not so romantic of course.

Foreigners Getting Married within the Netherlands?

If one or both sides of the marrying couple are not a Dutch nationality, you need to get an M46 form from the Dutch Immigration Department (IND) before applying for an ‘ondertrouw’. Beware of this of it can be tricky timing-wise. The M46 form is only valid for 6 months, while the immigration department can take up to 2 months to proceed your M46 form. Make sure you plan enough time ahead to avoid hiccups.

Engagement Parties

Many people celebrate ‘ondertrouw’ as their engagement in the Netherlands. In most occasions, close friends and families are invited for a dinner party and small gifts are expected. In some occasions, bigger parties with DJs and dance floor to dance till you drop are available.
I’ll come back to other Dutch wedding etiquettes later. Let me know if there’s anything you want to find out in particular!

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