What currency is used in the Netherlands and where can you change or withdraw money? How much should you tip a taxi driver? How can you call home? And where can you surf the web?
As in most European countries, the currency of the Netherlands is the Euro (symbolised as EUR or €). Other currencies are normally not accepted, so be sure to change dollars, etc. at one of the currency exchange offices located throughout the city. Many shops and restaurants in Amsterdam accept credit cards, but not all. It is therefore recommended to either ask before you order or ensure you have a sufficient amount in cash to cover the bill. Most shops and restaurants do not accept €200 or €500 notes.
General opening hours
Shops are open from Monday to Saturday, 9:00 to 18:00 (Saturday until 17:00 and Thursday evenings until 21:00). Sundays 12:00 to 17:00. Some supermarkets stay open until 20:00 or 22:00 on week nights. Most businesses operate Monday to Friday, 8:30 to 17:00. Banks are open weekdays only, between 9:00 and 16:00. Post offices are open weekdays only, between 9:00 and 17:00. The main post office on Singel 250 basement is open weekdays between 7:30 and 18:30 and also open Saturdays from 07:30 to 17:00.
Non-EU residents are eligible to get back the Value Added Tax (VAT) on purchases in the European Union. In the Netherlands the VAT is 21% and the minimum spent is €50. To get a refund, visit Customs before leaving the EU to get a stamp. You can either send the stamped receipt back to the store for a full VAT refund or make use of the following services:
1) Shop only at retailers affiliated with Global Blue, ask for a tax-free cheque and then reclaim the VAT at their desk at the airport. Visit www.global-blue.com for more information.
2) Shop wherever you like, save your purchase receipt and then reclaim the VAT online or at the VAT Free service desk at Schiphol Airport, departure hall 2. Visit www.vatfree.com for more information.
Public telephones are becoming rare and those remaining are often card-operated. Telephone cards are available at post offices, newsagents and several tourist offices. The international access code to call abroad from the Netherlands is 00, plus the code of the country you wish to call. When calling Amsterdam from abroad, dial 0031 (for Holland) and 20 (for Amsterdam). For mobile use, while most international SIM cards can operate on Dutch networks, it is also possible to purchase a prepaid SIM card from high-street telecom shops (Vodafone, T-Mobile, Hi, etc). Lebara frequently has a stand near the main entrance at Schiphol Airport that offers free SIM cards. Please note: some international mobile phones do not operate on frequencies used in the Netherlands.
If you are a guest of a hotel, you can often use their wireless internet. And more and more cafés are now also offering wireless internet, which you can access with your own laptop. Some places offer this service free of charge, while in others you have to pay. If you don´t have a laptop you can use one of the internet cafes in the city.
Service is always included. It is however customary to tip in restaurants, bars and when paying for taxis. As a general rule tipping between 5 and 10% is acceptable.