Netherlands Now Requires Negative PCR Test for All Passengers

The Netherlands now requires a negative corona PCR test for all passengers travelling to the country or connecting flights in Amsterdam.

PCR test

The new PCR test requirement will come into effect on 29th December and will be mandatory for all travellers, whether arriving by air, sea or land or just transiting through.

It also applies to transit passengers who are connecting at a Dutch Airport, such as KLM passengers flying through Amsterdam Airport.

Whether you are visiting the Netherlands, or just changing planes at Amsterdam without entering the country, you must bring a negative PCR test conducted no more than 72 hours prior to your scheduled arrival in the Netherlands.

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The Dutch Parliament in The Hague. ©Paliparan

Denied boarding

If you fail to provide a negative PCR test, you will be denied boarding to your flight to the Netherlands. This again includes transit passengers whose final destination is not the Netherlands but a third country.

Although it is unclear how the rule will be enforced at the land borders where the are no fixed border checks due to the Netherlands being part of the Schengen Zone, you could potentially be deported from the country if you fail to provide a negative PCR test.


Needless to say, this new measure will have massive consequences for Dutch citizens and foreigners alike. Let’s first address what I think is the biggest issue: the Dutch flagship airline KLM.

KLM operatives a massive hub at Amsterdam Airport. Even though the ongoing corona crisis has meant that the airline had to scale back flight operations, there are still thousands of passengers flying through the airport daily, most of them transit passengers who only change planes in Amsterdam.

These passengers will now be required to show a negative PCR test as well, irrespective whether they would need one on arrival in their destination country.

If you are for example flying with KLM from Spain to Sweden – a country which does not have a PCR testing requirement – you would still need to produce a negative PCR test result before your flight if you fly KLM or any other Dutch airline.

Bizarrely, I have heard of dozens of people who have upcoming flights in the next few days who haven not heard yet of this new requirement as KLM has so far failed to inform them.

Given how difficult it is in some countries to get a PCR test, this will no doubt result in many passengers being refused to board and having to postpone or cancel their travels.

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A KLM Boeing 787 Dreamliner. ©Screenshot

Dutch citizens

The negative PCR test requirement also counts for Dutch citizens who wish to fly back to their home country. If you are Dutch (or are a foreign citizen residing in the Netherlands) there are suddenly a lot of headaches involved when it comes to travelling abroad.

Whether you are going on holiday, visiting friends or family abroad, have a business trip or an urgent personal situation to attend to – you will have to take a PCR test somewhere abroad in order to return back to the Netherlands.

This will without a doubt have the result that almost all leisure, business and even personal trips are being killed off instantly by the Dutch Government.

Although the new measure was taken mostly as a reaction to combat the spread of new corona virus strains, it for sure has the intended side effect of curtailing movements abroad by Dutch citizens as so far the negative travel advisories by the Dutch Government have been inadequate.

This is especially true when it comes to home isolation on arrival in the Netherlands. Although the Dutch Government tried to sell it to their citizens as an obligation, there are still no legal grounds to actually enforce this.

In the link above to the Dutch Government website you can thus read that you are “strongly advised to self-quarantine for a period of 10 days” if arriving in the Netherlands from a high risk country (which according to the Dutch Foreign Office is currently the entire rest of the world, despite the fact that almost all other countries have lower corona infection rates than the Netherlands).

amsterdam airport schiphol
Amsterdam Schiphol Airport. ©Paliparan

In short

This is without doubt some tough news for Dutch citizens and for foreign travellers alike. Thousands of passengers will suddenly need to take a last-minute PCR test before they can fly back to the Netherlands or hop on their KLM flights to destinations elsewhere in the world.

Given how difficult it can be in some countries to get a PCR test in the first place (and how long the waiting list can be in some other places) – this will lead to some unfortunate situations in which hundreds of passengers will be denied boarding over the holidays – especially that most people have still not heard anything about this new measure from their airline company.

For the Netherlands it’s also a double edged sword. Although having less travel movements perhaps could have a (very minor) positive consequence on the amount of corona infections, the airline and travel industry will be extremely hard hit.

I cannot imagine many Dutch citizens travelling abroad under this circumstances and KLM’s popularity as an airline will take a nosedive.

Remember, KLM was already bailed out once by the government in recent months. This seems to me like a self-inflicted gunshot wound as who will need to bail out the airline again if passengers stop flying? The Dutch Government. The same one who ordered these draconian measures.

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Koen works as a freelance journalist covering south-eastern Europe and is the founding father and editor-in-chief of Paliparan. As a contributor to some major Fleet Street newspapers and some lesser known publications in the Balkans, he travels thousands of miles each year for work as well as on his personal holidays. Whether it is horse riding in Kyrgyzstan’s Tian Shan mountains, exploring the backstreets of Bogotá, or sipping a glass of moschofilero in a Greek beachside taverna, Koen loves to immerse himself into the local culture, explore new places and eat and drink himself around the world.

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