For months since Europe began reopening this spring, the Netherlands was among the most lenient when it came to entry restrictions: No testing or even proof of vaccination was required for Americans. But days after the European Union called to restrict many American travelers, the Dutch are locking things down.
Starting this Saturday, Sept. 4, even American tourists heading for Amsterdam (AMS) or elsewhere in the Netherlands will be required to quarantine for 10 days, according to an update the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs. On the fifth day, travelers may be able to exit quarantine and explore the country by testing negative for COVID-19.
And the entry requirements will get even stricter come Monday, Sept. 6, with mandatory pre-travel testing. In addition to the mandatory quarantine, all arrivals will have to present a recent negative COVID-19 test: Taken no more than 48 hours before departure for a PCR test or just 24 hours before departure for a rapid antigen test. Children under 12 are exempt from the new testing requirement.
All arrivals must fill out a health declaration form and a quarantine declaration form. Unvaccinated travelers from the U.S. and other high-risk areas won’t be allowed entry for tourism or other nonessential travel purposes, period.
These new requirements take effect starting Saturday, which means even travelers departing the U.S. tonight that land in Amsterdam on Saturday will be required to quarantine for up to 10 days. Delta, United, and other airlines began informing travelers of the brewing change Thursday evening.
It’s a drastic reversal for a country that set few limits on American travelers as recently as this week. It comes just days after the European Commission voted to remove the U.S. from its safe travel list – a nonbinding recommendation.
But so far, the Netherlands is an outlier by essentially banning most American travelers again. Many countries across the continent have made clear they have no plans to cut off American tourism this fall. So far, only Bulgaria has gone farther by banning nearly all American tourists altogether.
In Italy, officials added a pre-travel testing requirement that will allow vaccinated Americans to continue heading for Rome, Venice, Milan, and elsewhere. Other countries have announced they have no plans to further restrict travel, including Greece, Austria, Ireland, Iceland, and others.
Still, the Netherlands move adds to the increasingly complex patchwork of entry requirements across Europe. While the European Union may have recommended banning, it’s ultimately up to each individual country to set their own rules. And the EU gave its member countries the go-ahead to continue accepting vaccinated American travelers.
Read our country-by-country guide to European travel restrictions.
Amsterdam is a critical hub in Europe, connecting travelers from the U.S. onward throughout Europe – especially Delta flyers who can hitch a flight on partner airline KLM. Fortunately, travelers transiting through Amsterdam may not need to worry.
Dutch officials confirmed to Thrifty Traveler that Americans connecting through Amsterdam won’t be subjected to these new restrictions so long as their connecting flight leaves within a day and you don’t leave the airport.
The Netherlands is the first major domino to fall in Europe, imposing major entry restrictions on Americans starting this weekend that all but bans travel. There are even questions about how this change would affect flights connecting through Amsterdam.
Many other countries across the continent have made clear they’ll remain open to fully vaccinated American travelers. But this is a disappointing development for many – with little to no notice.