The Kingdom of the Netherlands – also known as Holland – is an EU country located in the northwest of the European continent. The Netherlands is bordered by two EU nations – Belgium and Germany – and almost half of its territory sits below sea level – a fact that generated the necessity of the development of a complex system of dams to prevent floods.
The economy of the Netherlands is one of the most developed on the planet, and the country’s insertion in the European Union promoted the strengthening and expansion of many industrial segments. The Dutch population enjoys an excellent standard of living, and the Human Development Index of the Netherlands is the seventh best average among all countries in the world.
Holland’s main port, Rotterdam, is the largest port area in Europe and is considered one of the busiest in the world. In addition, every year the country attracts millions of tourists and Amsterdam, the national capital, is one of the most visited places in Europe.
Most people who travel to Europe end up going to the Netherlands at early in the journey, almost always find themselves in Amsterdam. The capital of the Netherlands is a symbol of progressive thinking and represents the vision of a people known for its great navigation. The city boasts an array of museums (like the Rijksmuseum and the Van Gogh Museum), parks and picturesque cafes.
Besides Amsterdam, other highlights of the Netherlands are the nearby cities of Haarlem, the tourist Volendam (with typical houses), Leiden (Rembrandt’s birthplace) or Lisse (where De Keukenhof flower park is located). On a visit to the Netherlands, it is also worth spending a few days between The Hague and Delft, as well as getting to know the Kinderdijk windmills and Rotterdam.
Because the Netherlands is an official member of the European Union and has signed the Schengen Agreement, travellers who bear an EU passport can travel freely around the country. As for citizens of America, for example, they enjoy a visa-waiver policy with Schengen Holland for trips under 90 days.
Together with other European nations like Belgium and Germany, the Netherlands founded the European Union in 1958. In 1995, the Netherlands joined forces with France, Luxembourg, Germany, and Belgium to create the Schengen Area.
Being a founding nation of both the Schengen and EU, the Dutch government has occupied an influential post in all EU-related discussions. As of lately, one of the major concerns of the government of the Netherlands and the other Member States has been the security of the European community. This is due to a series of terrorist attacks that hit France, Belgium, and Germany in 2015 and 2016, as well as an uncontrolled number of illegal immigrants in European territory.
Hence, EU member countries began to discuss ways to redesign their immigration policies and entry/exit systems. One of the alternatives proposed by the European Commission was the introduction of an online pre-travel authorization system that would give EU authorities more information about people coming in and out of Europe. The EU commission named this new program ETIAS, or European Travel and Information Authorization System, and has planned to implement it as of 2021.
EU nationals don’t need to worry about the ETIAS as it won’t affect travel regulations between the Schengen Member States. However, countries which are part of the Schengen visa-waiver agreement – like America, Canada, Australia, or Japan – will need a valid ETIAS in order to travel to the Netherlands after 2021. With the ETIAS, the period of stay in the Schengen territory for visa-exempt countries will remain 90 days in every 180 days. The difference will be that they will have to submit an application and pay a fee before boarding an international carrier.