- Download our Moving to the Netherlands Guide (PDF)
Accessibility in the Netherlands
Dutch society is famously inclusive, and there are strong legal protections and rights for people living with any disability or impairment in the Netherlands. Central government, municipalities and commercial organisations are united to create freedom through equal dreams and opportunities, by removing barriers to participation.
Most travellers arrive at Schiphol Airport, which caters excellently for wheelchair users and those with visual or hearing impairments. Travelling through the three terminal sections and onwards into Amsterdam and beyond has been made easier through smart engineering and technology.
Most street taxis have space for a folding wheelchair, and many private operators specialise in fully accessible cabs. These are often private hire cars (contract taxis) including vans and small minibuses. Fares for street taxis are regulated and giving passenger receipts is mandatory. Taxis are safe and well maintained, as are the roads.
Many buses have wheelchair ramps, but it’s not uncommon to find the driver isn’t trained to use them. Most central attractions (and South Amsterdam) are better served by trams and the metro system than by bus. Beyond Amsterdam, in this relatively small country, trains also make more sense. Operators in other major centres do better, including RET in Rotterdam, whose buses are better equipped for mobility.
Metro and tram
Amsterdam and Rotterdam have modern metro systems linked to efficient tram and light rail networks. All metro stations are fully accessible, with ramps, elevators, ticket machines and wider gates operated by trained staff. Access to trams differs between tram stops and can vary according to the age of the vehicle. Suitable trams and stops are marked with the familiar wheelchair icon sticker.
Renting a car in the Netherlands is simple through every major global brand. The minimum age for car hire is 19, though many rental companies insist on 21. An international driving licence is required. Main routes and highways are toll-free throughout the country, and parking is cost effective (free in the many ‘blue zones’ using a parking disc). If visiting the major centres, business districts or travelling inter-city, though, public transport is so efficient and widespread that car hire is rarely required.
LGBTQ+ in the Netherlands
The Netherlands has become one of the world's most culturally liberal countries, with recent polls indicating over 90 percent of Dutch people support same-sex marriage. Amsterdam has frequently been named one of the most LGBTQ+ friendly cities in the world. Its world-famous Pride parade at the end of July and beginning of August is one of the most significant events in the Netherlands and is a party for everyone that celebrates diversity.
Gender equality in the Netherlands
By any measure, ranking or index, the Netherlands performs well when it comes to gender equality. It lags slightly behind France and the Nordic countries in the EU, but on a global scale, it is a fair and equitable society where opportunity is free from discrimination, and protected by law. This includes economic and political decision-making, health and wellbeing.
Women in leadership in the Netherlands
In politics, almost 50 percent of ministers and secretaries of state are women, while female representation on company boards is over 40 percent and climbing. There remains a pay gap, but differences in overall net worth or wealth continue to narrow. More women are in part-time employment than men, but overall participation in work is in line with other highly developed EU member states.
Mental health in the Netherlands
In the Netherlands, a GP referral is needed to see a mental health specialist within the primary healthcare system. Basic health insurance policies usually cover this under their mental healthcare section. There are several organisations online that provide lists of healthcare professionals, ranging from psychologists to psychiatrists and everything in between. Trained private professionals also provide social services, available 24/7 and don’t require GP referral. Other organisations, such as International Social Service Netherlands, also provide similar services outside the primary and secondary healthcare system.
Unconscious bias in the Netherlands
Many employers in the Netherlands use training to combat prejudices formed through assumptions or deep-seated thought patterns. Dutch society is sophisticated and open, so bias, conscious or otherwise, is treated with zero tolerance. Stereotypes, even in jest, might be challenged by colleagues and coworkers, so it pays to be mindful of preconceived ideas.
Diversification of the workforce in the Netherlands
One in five Dutch citizens has at least one parent born abroad, though over 80 percent of the population is classified as white. Statistics Netherlands operates a Cultural Diversity Barometer online, which allows employees and candidates to see the make-up and mix of a huge number of organisations employing 250 people or more. Broadly speaking, employment across the Netherlands is highly diverse.
Safety in the Netherlands
The Netherlands is generally a very safe country, ranking 21st out of the 163 countries assessed by the Global Peace Index. Most crime that occurs is related to theft, pickpocketing and drugs. Compared with other major European cities, Amsterdam, Rotterdam and Eindhoven still have relatively low crime rates. Expats still need to exercise caution when out and about, as in any European setting, but risks are low and policing is visible and effective.
Women’s safety in the Netherlands
The Netherlands is a safe place for women to travel and commute. Solo female travellers and backpackers are more common targets of petty crime than professionals – and tourists adjusting to new freedoms and liberties can present more problems than residents simply due to a lack of familiarity with the surroundings.
Calendar initiatives in the Netherlands
11 February – International Day of Women and Girls in Science
20 February – World Day of Social Justice
2 April – World Autism Awareness Day
6 April – International Asexuality Day
26 April – Lesbian Visibility Day
April – Sexual Awareness Month and Neurodiversity Month
17 May – International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia
18 May – Global Accessibility Awareness Day
16 June – Neurodiversity Pride Day
June – Pride Month
14 July – International Non-Binary People’s Day
9 August – International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples
10 September – World Suicide Prevention Day
4 October – Diversity Day
10 October – World Mental Health Day
1 December – World AIDS Day
3 December – International Day of Persons with Disabilities
10 December – Human Rights Day
►Learn more about Culture Shock in the Netherlands
Are you an expat living in The Netherlands?
Expat Arrivals is looking for locals to contribute to this guide, and answer forum questions from others planning their move to The Netherlands. Please contact us if you'd like to contribute.
Expat Health Insurance
Cigna Global Health Insurance - 10% off any plans bought in November and December 2023
With Cigna, you won't have to rely on foreign public health care systems, which may not meet your needs. Cigna allows you to speak to a doctor on demand, for consultations or instant advice, wherever you are in the world. They also offer full cancer care across all levels of cover, and settle the cost of treatments directly with the provider. Cigna is currently offering a 10% discount for seniors (over 60) on their Silver package.
International Movers. Get Quotes. Compare Prices.
Sirelo has a network of more than 500 international removal companies that can move your furniture and possessions to your new home. By filling in a form, you’ll get up to 5 quotes from recommended movers. This service is free of charge and will help you select an international moving company that suits your needs and budget.