Dutch citizens abroad
On this page:
Consular assistance abroad
This page explains how Consuls and consular staff at Dutch missions (embassies and consulates) look after the interests of Dutch citizens abroad. See the menu items on the left for related subjects of interest.
Consular officials are charged with promoting and protecting the interests of Dutch nationals within their consular district, under article 5 of the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations (24 April 1963). Promoting and protecting the interests of Dutch nationals abroad is one of the core tasks of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Dutch nationals may therefore ask for assistance from a Dutch embassy or consulate should the need arise. Dutch law does not confer a right to consular assistance. It is up to the Dutch government to grant it. Below, information is provided on what a Dutch embassy or consulate can and cannot do and what Dutch nationals themselves can do.
What a consul can do
The Netherlands is represented in almost every country by an embassy or consulate. These missions serve the interests of the Netherlands and its citizens. Consular assistance is only provided to Dutch nationals who run into trouble and cannot find help any other way.
A consul can:
- issue you with an emergency travel document ('laissez passer') if you lose your passport or have it stolen;
- advise you on transferring money from a bank account in the Netherlands if you find yourself short of money;
- contact friends or relatives (via the Ministry of Foreign Affairs) in order to obtain money or air tickets;
- (in serious emergencies and under certain conditions) lend you money to return to the Netherlands. The consul is not obliged to lend you money and will do so only if no one else can help;
- put you in touch with local lawyers, interpreters or doctors;
- (in the case of an accident, admission to hospital or death) ensure that relatives are informed and give advice on local procedures;
- contact Dutch nationals who have been arrested and, if necessary, ensure that their messages reach friends and relatives in the Netherlands;
- keep in touch with the local authorities in the search for missing persons.
What a consul cannot do
Dutch nationals who run into serious problems abroad often have very high expectations about what the Ministry of Foreign Affairs can do for them. Dutch embassies and consulates are limited in what they can do, however.
A consul cannot:
- arrange care that is better than is customary for local people in a hospital or prison;
- pay the bills of hotels, restaurants, pharmacists, doctors, etc.;
- pay for air or train tickets for the return journey to the Netherlands;
- help you obtain accommodation, work or a work permit;
- get you out of prison;
- pay bail or lawyers' fees;
- launch an investigation into a crime;
- assist Dutch nationals with dual nationality in the country of their other nationality when not allowed;
- look after money or luggage;
- mediate in civil-law disputes.
What Dutch nationals can do
Good preparation before a journey can prevent many problems. The Dutch-language Foreign Affairs site provides tips for travellers in its " Wijs op Reis" menu. Here you will find advice regarding passport validity, applying in good time for a visa, taking money (e.g. in traveller's cheques) and consulting the Ministry of Foreign Affairs concerning the security situation in the country you plan to visit.
Also, travellers are advised to take out insurance before they go on holiday,
so that even if something unexpected happens they will not be faced with high
hospital and doctors' bills.
The Ministry frequently deals with inquiries from distressed relatives concerned about a traveller who has not been in contact for some time. Unfortunately, the advice to travellers to leave behind an itinerary of their journey is not always taken.
Consular assistance from an EU member state
In countries where an EU member state has no embassy or consulate, nationals of that member state may request assistance at the embassy or consulate of another member state.
The interests of Dutch nationals are also protected by honorary consuls, for whom the office is a part-time activity. Most honorary consuls are not Dutch nationals, nor do most of them speak Dutch. They can do less for you than a professional consul at the consulate. For example, an honorary consul may not issue a passport nor, in the Schengen countries, a visa.