Customs in the Netherlands

The official language of the Netherlands is Dutch, spoken by approximately 90% of the population.

The currency used in the Netherlands is the Euro - €

Family plays an important role in everyday life for the Dutch people. Most families are quite small, with only one or two children, and unlike many other cultures around the world the women stay home with the children.

Customs and Etiquette in Everyday Life and Socialization

Shake hands with everyone present, including children, and introduce yourself. Upon your departure, shake hands with everyone again.

If you are invited to a Dutch home for dinner, arrive on time and bring your hostess a gift of fine chocolates or a bouquet of flowers. If you opt to give your hostess flowers, give an odd number of stems (avoid 13) and do not give white lilies or chrysanthemums.

Until you are shown to your seat, remain standing. Women usually take their seats before the men. The host will give a toast at the beginning of the meal and it is customary for the guest to return the toast midway through dinner. Wait until your hostess takes her first bite before beginning to eat, and use your utensils for everything. Try and make sure to have small helpings for the first round so that you can compliment the chef by requesting seconds. When you have finished eating, do not leave anything on your plate as it is considered rude and wasteful.

If you are going out to dinner with a friend or colleague, no matter who invited the other, expect to pay for your own meal (or "go Dutch"). Unless it was specified that you (or they) are treating, each party will pay their own bill.

When it comes to gratuity, tipping is acceptable and appreciated in the Netherlands.
• Restaurants: Although service charges are included in the bill, if the service was good, it is customary to leave about 10% to your server.
• Taxis: Round Up
• Porters and bellhops: 1.5 Euro per bag
• Hotel housekeeping: 3.5 Euro per night

Customs and Etiquette in Business

Men should wear dark suits and ties to business meetings, while women should wear dresses, pantsuits, or conservative skirt and blouse combinations. Accessorize with a minimal amount of tasteful jewelry.

Avoid scheduling a meeting during the summer months of June through August as many of the Dutch are on vacation during this time.

Be prompt, and if you are running late, even by five minutes, call and let your Dutch counterparts know immediately. Do not expect much small talk preceding the meeting; they like to get right down to business. Meetings are typically long as business is conducted slowly, no stone left unturned. Avoid using hyperbole, as exaggerated claims are not appreciated.


Netherlands Flights
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