Q&A on coronavirus and returning to the Netherlands

As of Wednesday 8 April 2020, Dutch nationals stranded abroad can no longer register for special assistance abroad but tailored assistance is still offered. Answers are given below to some of the most frequently asked questions in this regard.

Do you need travel advice, or would you like to view the frequently asked questions per country? If so, please visit www.nederlandwereldwijd.nl (Dutch) and Consequences of coronavirus for travelling abroad: where can I find more information?

I am currently abroad and want to return to the Netherlands. What should I do?

In many countries, flights have been cancelled as a consequence of coronavirus. However, this does not mean that all travel is impossible. For example, it may be that travelling overland is still permitted, or that you are able to fly from a different airport or destination in Europe. We advise you to look carefully at all possible ways and means of getting home. If necessary, contact your travel organisation or airline company and use the available options.

Until Wednesday 8 April 2020 travellers stranded abroad due to measures taken to tackle the coronavirus outbreak could register for assistance via the Special Assistance Abroad website. This is a joint initiative of the travel industry, insurers, airlines and the government to help Dutch people who are stranded abroad return home. As of 8 April tailored assistance is still offered.

If you are not yet able to leave, please find a safe place to stay and consult with your travel organisation or airline company if necessary. If you are unable to sort things out with your airline carrier and/or travel agency, you should call the 24/7 Ministry Contact Centre telephone number: +31 247 247 247. The line is open 24 hours a day and 7 days a week. Bear in mind that you may have to wait a while before your call is answered.

I am currently abroad and am worried about coronavirus. What should I do?

We recommend that you keep a close eye on developments relating to coronavirus and follow the instructions of the local authorities.

Some countries are temporarily closing their borders. Our advice is therefore to check whether you are obliged to stay abroad and whether there are (still) possibilities to return home. If necessary, contact your travel organisation or airline company and use the available options.

If you have specific questions about the coronavirus, please contact the public information number: 0800 - 1351 (between 08:00 and 22:00). If you are abroad, you should call +31 20 205 1351.

I am currently abroad. Am I obliged to return to the Netherlands?

No, this is not the case. However, we do advise you to keep a close eye on developments. Download the Ministry Travel App [BZ Reisapp] and monitor the travel advice being provided.

Some countries are temporarily closing their borders. Our advice is therefore to check worldwide whether you are obliged to stay abroad and whether there are (still) possibilities to return home. If necessary, contact your travel organisation or airline company.

I registered via www.bijzonderebijstandbuitenland.nl a while ago. What should I do now?

You should have received an email or telephone call from the Special Assistance Abroad team. We will try to help you as quickly as possible.

However, depending on the local situation, it may sometimes take longer to get you home. Please be aware that, in the period ahead, it may not be possible to organise flights back to the Netherlands from your current location. So you should continue to look out for any commercial flights that may be being organised.

If it is not possible for you to return to the Netherlands at present, you are advised to look into how you can continue staying at your current location safely. If you need help doing this, please contact the Dutch embassy.

For more information go to Closure of Special Assistance Abroad registration: Frequently Asked Questions.

What happens if the airport in a particular country is closed?

Where necessary the Netherlands will use its global diplomatic network to obtain landing rights for planes to be used to repatriate Dutch people. If you are not yet able to leave, please find a safe place to stay and consult with your travel organisation if necessary.

What does 'safe place to stay' mean if repatriation is still impossible and who will pay for that?

If repatriation is temporarily impossible, you will be personally responsible for finding a safe place to stay. This means you will have to find accommodation in the country you are currently in.

In situations like this, we will assess the possibilities of providing continued support to you as you stay in the country in question, until a safe return to the Netherlands is possible again. For more information please visit www.nederlandwereldwijd.nl.

You will have to pay for any essential stay abroad yourself. If you have travel insurance, please contact your travel insurer.

Am I entitled to a free plane ticket under the Special Assistance Abroad scheme?

No. As the person travelling, you are individually responsible for your journey and accommodation. If you want to use the 'special assistance for people stranded abroad', you will also have to pay a personal contribution (in accordance with a fixed rate for 'Europe' or 'outside Europe').

Am I obliged to pay the EUR 300/900 contribution after registration?

No, that is not the case. Only when you make use of a flight within the context of Special Assistance Abroad do you owe the personal contribution (300 euros within Europe and 900 euros outside Europe). You will receive a payment request by e-mail afterwards.

We therefore advise you - even after registration - to keep looking for possibilities to go home independently. Our commitment is to have all Dutch travelers return home quickly, but we cannot offer any guarantees.

You can ask all your further questions about payment and payment arrangements as soon as you are contacted.

Is there a special rate for children under 2 years old?

Yes, children up to 2 years old can fly for free, provided they travel on their lap and do not occupy their own seat.

I am travelling with several other people. Do I have to pay everyone's personal contribution, or can they pay separately?

When you register, you give your permission, as the 'main applicant', for the personal contribution of all the people travelling with you who you have registered to be deducted from your account.

If you would prefer this amount to be deducted separately, all the people you are travelling with must register separately (and also submit their bank details).

Will a flight be organised even for small numbers of stranded people?

Our aim is to ensure that all Dutch citizens abroad are able to return home quickly. We are doing our very best, but we cannot give any guarantees. If repatriation is temporarily impossible, the 'joint Dutch emergency centres' or travel organisations will, in urgent cases, make the necessary arrangements for 'a safe place to stay' until a safe return to the Netherlands is possible. You can register for this at www.bijzonderebijstandbuitenland.nl.

Are the flights in question extra flights or (regular) scheduled flights as well?

In the first instance, regular scheduled flights will be used. Where necessary, extra flights can be arranged by airline companies and travel organisations. These flights are not 'free' evacuation flights and passengers will have to to pay a fixed personal contribution (300 euros 'within Europe' and 900 euros 'outside Europe'). Countries bordering Europe are also subject to a personal contribution of 300 euros: Albania, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Georgia, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Moldova, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Norway, Ukraine, Russia, Serbia, Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, Turkey. This contribution will be deducted from your account later.

I would like to return to the Netherlands. Is my foreign partner allowed to come with me?

Yes. The joint 'special assistance for people stranded abroad' initiative is for Dutch travellers, including their partners and/or family members. However, you should indicate this on the registration form. The personal contribution will be charged per person.

The EU has introduced restrictions on incoming travel. Is my foreign partner still allowed to come with me?

Yes. On Thursday 19 March, travel restrictions were introduced for non-essential travel for third-country nationals travelling to EU member states, the Schengen member states and the United Kingdom. These travel restrictions do not, however, apply to the family members of EU citizens. You can find the excluded categories on netherlandsandyou.nl.

I have dual nationality. Am I also entitled to assistance?

Yes. If you have Dutch nationality, you can contact us day and night in order to find a suitable solution for your situation.

You should bear in mind that some countries do not recognise dual nationality, and that may affect the provision of consular assistance, or the degree to which it can be provided.

I do not have Dutch nationality, but I do have a residence permit for the Netherlands. Am I also entitled to assistance?

Yes, provided you are registered with a Dutch municipality and / or have a valid Dutch residence permit. You must also meet the personal contribution.

Is it possible for people with a different nationality to use any available seats on board the plane?

The Special Assistance Abroad scheme is primarily aimed at Dutch citizens who are stranded abroad and want to return to the Netherlands. If there are any seats left on the plane, it may be that they will be offered to other (paying) non-Dutch people who are, for example, EU citizens.

I have Dutch nationality and live in one of the Caribbean countries of the Kingdom of Netherlands. Is it possible to be taken there?

Dutch travel organizations and airlines make every effort to help Dutch travelers and to ensure maximum use of their available capacity to bring Dutch travelers home. The starting point is that regular scheduled flights are used for repatriation. This also applies to the Caribbean parts of the Kingdom. If return is not yet possible, options will be considered to support continued safe residence in the country in question until safe return to the Caribbean parts of the Kingdom is possible.

Will people who are ill be allowed on a flight?

Passengers who are displaying clear symptoms during check-in or boarding, will be referred to the medical staff at the airport in order to obtain a 'fit-to-fly' certificate. This is in accordance with the standard airline company regulations. The airline company will ultimately take the decision whether or not to allow a passenger on board. For travelers from high-risk areas travelling to the Netherlands a health screening form is compulsory.

Are people tested for coronavirus before they board the plane?

Passengers who are displaying clear symptoms during check-in or boarding, will be referred to the medical staff at the airport in order to obtain a 'fit-to-fly' certificate. This is in accordance with the standard airline company regulations. The airline company will ultimately take the decision whether or not to allow a passenger on board. For travelers from high-risk areas travelling to the Netherlands a health screening form is compulsory.

The risk of infection on board a plane is the same as in other locations. The plane is supplied constantly with fresh air from outside and high maintenance and hygiene standards and extra measures apply on board.

So-called Corona Kits are available for use on board if a passenger suddenly starts displaying symptoms during the flight. These contain personal protective equipment for all passengers and staff, as well as materials which can be used to isolate the infected passenger.

Are people tested for coronavirus when they arrive?

No, passengers are not tested for coronavirus when they arrive. However, airports will be looking out for passengers with a fever and respiratory problems, certainly in the case of people who, in the past fourteen days, have been in a region where there are lots of people infected with coronavirus. Airports are in close contact on this issue with the National Institute for Public Health and the Environment [Rijksinstituut voor Volksgezondheid en Milieu, RIVM) and the Municipal Public Health Services [Gemeentelijke Geneeskundige Dienst] (GGD) and are following their recommendations. Together with them, airports are keeping a close eye on developments and are taking suitable action as necessary.

I'm flying back to the Netherlands from an area with many coronavirus infections. Do special measures apply to me when I arrive?

Yes. The following measures are applicable for incoming passengers from high-risk areas:

  1. A mandatory health declaration (from April 17, 2020 6:00 PM).
  2. Passengers are instructed to immediate quarantine for 14 days.
  3. An EU entry ban for non-essential travel of persons from third countries to Europe (all EU Member States, all members of Schengen and the United Kingdom) until 15 May 2020.

For more information about the rules, please download the following PDF's:

How can I stay informed of further developments?

All Dutch nationals stranded abroad are requested to register via the Foreign Affairs Information Service.

If you are in the country, choose the option "Register + register at the embassy". You can update your contact details on the same page.

Do not forget to unsubscribe when you have left the country.

What does compulsory health screening for travelers to the Netherlands mean?

From 17 April 2020 at 18:00 onwards, a health screening form will be compulsory for travelers from high-risk areas travelling to the Netherlands. Due to the Public Health Act, it necessary that all airlines ask passengers for a health screening form. The declaration-form must be completed before boarding.

To whom does this mandatory health declaration apply?

All passengers coming from high-risk areas travelling to the Netherlands have to comply with these additional measures consisting of the introduction of a compulsory health declaration.

How do I obtain such a health declaration?

You can download the health declaration here.

The health screening form must be completed prior to boarding the flight. For specific questions, please contact the airline company with which you are flying to the Netherlands.

When do I have to be in home quarantine?

Travelers from high-risk areas are urgently advised to go into home quarantine for 14 days. For the definition of high-risk areas, the list kept by the European Aviation Agency (EASA) will be used.

EASA does this in coordination with the Member States and based on information from the World Health Organization (WHO), European Center for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) and the European health institutes such as RIVM.

Do I need home quarantine if I come from a non-high-risk area?

According to the applicable advice, other travelers are advised, like all other Dutch people, to preferably stay at home, to go into home isolation in case of complaints and to abide by the rules of conduct in force in the Netherlands.

What is the status of the no-fly zone to the BES-islands; Bonaire, St. Eustatius, Saba?

The flight bans for travelers from high-risk areas to the BES islands will be extended until April 28, 2020 18:00 hours. The European entry ban has no effect on the BES islands and the Cabinet has therefore decided to extend the flying ban.

I have just returned from abroad under my own steam. Am I entitled to a reimbursement?

No. Dutch travellers are personally responsible for their own journey, accommodation and alternative itineraries. The 'special assistance for people stranded abroad' is intended for people who are unable to return to the Netherlands independently. People who use the scheme must also pay a personal contribution which is deducted from your account later (300 euros 'within Europe' and 900 euros 'outside Europe').

I've returned home via Special Assistance Abroad. How do I pay my personal contribution?

You do not have to take the initiative yourself to pay your contribution, or contact us about this. The processing of the travel data takes some time. From week 18 (April 27) on you can expect a payment request by e-mail from the Calamiteitenfonds to pay the personal contribution. Financial service provider Betalis B.V. will collect the personal contribution.

You can ask all your further questions about payment and payment arrangements as soon as you are contacted.