Do’s and Don’ts; Tips for Newcomers to The Netherlands

April 27 , 2021 by: Tash Boudville

Are you planning a visit to the Netherlands? Do you want to make good first impressions of the locals as an expat or nomad? Do you want to know the basic etiquette all tourists should learn before entering the Netherlands? This article is for you.


The Dutch people love to greet newcomers to the Netherlands, especially expats and nomads. They are also a big fan of you welcoming them back as well. This gesture shows to the locals that you are courteous and setting a good first impression.


As an expat or nomad, greeting in the Netherlands is typically a handshake. However, if you are among friends and family, kissing on alternating cheeks gets highly regarded. On your departure, Dutch people love to shake hands again.

Do Not:

When greeting someone, take your hands out of your pockets. This gesture shows the Dutch that you are happy to meet them, and so you do not appear snobby.



If invited to a Dutch home, try gifting items such as a box of high-quality chocolates, a potted plant, or some flowers. When gifting a bouquet of flowers, it should get given in odd numbers. However, make sure thirteen gets avoided. The number thirteen gets considered to the Dutch people as an unlucky number. Your Gifts should get wrapped neatly and look presentable

Do Not:

Do not give flowers such as white lilies or chrysanthemums as a gift. White lilies and chrysanthemums get associated with funerals. Avoid gifting wine as it gets considered an unlikeable gift if you are invited over for dinner. Typically the host has already selected the wine for dinner. Avoid gifting sharp objects such as knives or scissors, as they are considered unlucky.

Business Etiquette


As an expat or nomad, when trying to find work in the Netherlands. A good trait is to be modest, honest, and truthful. You must not make exaggerated claims about what you can deliver to get the job. Your word is what your company relies on, and making up lies that later prove to be untrue will show the Dutch people that you are unreliable.

Do Not:

When working in the Netherlands, do not try to schedule meetings during the summer. This period is from June through to August. The summer period is the vacation period, and most employees will be absent during this timeframe.

Avoid being late. Being late for meetings gets taken seriously, and being late may tell the Dutch people that you are untrustworthy. It also shows the locals that you may be someone who may not meet other deadlines.

Payment Methods

In the Netherland, the Dutch mainly use debit cards as their predominant payment method. However, credit cards are not available for use at every shop or restaurant. The Dutch will also allow you to pay via cash if needed. 

Photo on Pixabay

Table Manners

To the Dutch people, table manners and dining is typically a formal setting. However, table manners get commonly used around the world. So it is easy to implement in the Netherlands for expats or nomads. For instance, hold your fork in your left hand and hold your knife with the right hand. 


If you end up at a local home or even at a restaurant, remain standing until you have gotten invited to sit down. This gesture shows the Dutch people you have courtesy and respect for others. This rule gets used in the case of seating allocation. 

Do Not: 

Avoid getting up from your seat at the table. To the locals, it gets considered rude to leave the table, even if you need to go to the toilet. If you need to go to the restroom, politely ask if you can get excused. Avoid asking the waiter to locate the lavatory for you at your table, as well. 

Personal Space

In the Netherlands, the Dutch are very private people and typically want their personal space. The locals find it quite rude if their space gets invaded by others.


Respect their personal space, and if they tell you to stop, please do so.

Do Not:

Avoid moving your chair closer to locals if they have not permitted you. There is nothing worst than feeling out of your comfort zone.


Many of the locals pride themselves on having a religiously tolerant society. Unlike many countries, a diversity of religions get accepted in the Netherlands. In the Netherlands, 28% of the population are Roman Catholic, 11% identify with some other religion, and 19% identify as Protestant. The rest do not have one.

Do: Respect the Dutch beliefs and values.

Do Not: Avoid showing pessimist reactions to their ethnic backgrounds or alternative lifestyles other than your own. This gesture is not appreciated.

Gestures and body language

Gestures and your body language play a crucial role in the Netherlands, especially as an expat or nomad. Your shown behavior and body language depict how the locals will see you. If you come off as standoffish, the locals may not try to start a conversation with you.


Language is a big hurdle to cross between Dutch speakers and fluent English speaking. When visiting the Netherlands, a good gesture is to learn Dutch. You will find more locals will have no problem helping you out. Try to maintain eye contact when speaking to the locals.

Do Not: 

A gesture to avoid is, tapping the center of your forehead with your index finger. This gesture means you are crazy and gets consider very rude amongst the Dutch people. If you plan on visiting someone in the Netherlands, do not go around to their house unannounced.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

No Comments