You’d be forgiven for not noticing, but despite the dreary weather this week, spring has officially arrived in the Netherlands. The clocks have sprung forward and Keukenhof has reopened its doors, as people across the country start digging out all their orange in time for King’s Day. From the Easter weekend to energy tariffs: here are 12 things expats living and working in the Netherlands need to know about this month.
1. New 15-cent deposit on cans from April 1
In an ongoing effort to encourage people in the Netherlands to recycle more, the Dutch government has introduced a new deposit on cans, similar to the deposit that already exists for plastic bottles. As of April 1, shoppers will be charged an additional 15 cents for every can they buy and, like with plastic and glass bottles, they’ll be able to return empty cans at machines stationed in thousands of supermarkets, petrol stations, train stations and sports clubs across the country.
2. The IamExpat Fair returns to Amsterdam!
The IamExpat Fair is fast approaching! The number one expat event in the Netherlands will be returning to Amsterdam on April 22, once again taking over the Gashouder with absolutely anything and everything expats in the Netherlands could need.
So, what are you waiting for? Book your free IamExpat Fair tickets today! Can’t make it on April 22? Don’t worry; the IamExpat Fair will be returning to The Hague later this year too, so watch this space…
3. Dutch energy companies lower gas and electricity rates
It’s been a tough couple of months for many businesses and families in the Netherlands who, in spite of the measures taken by the Dutch government, have struggled to keep up with the high energy prices throughout the cold, dark winter months. Now that spring is here though, various Dutch energy suppliers have already confirmed that their gas and electricity prices will be dropping. Vattenfall, Eneco and Essent, for example, have said they’re halving their rates from April 1.
4. Hospitals and public transport strikes cancelled
It’s a new month, and it looks like the Netherlands might be reaching the end of this strike-heavy period. After staff at dozens of Dutch hospitals downed tools on March 16, healthcare workers were set to strike again in April but unions have settled on a new labour agreement with employers, meaning the strike has been called off.
Similar to strikes in the healthcare sector, Dutch public transport was set to see another couple of days of strikes, at least at the beginning of the month. However, the six-week strike period was paused by unions in March and is yet to be resumed, with representatives saying talks have so far been promising.
5. New mandatory courses for driving offenders
Recently, the Netherlands announced stricter rules for drivers, specifically new drivers and those found to be driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. The tougher standards come into effect on April 1.
Under the new rules, anyone arrested by the police for driving under the influence will have to follow (and pay for) a mandatory behavioural course – the Educational Measure Alcohol and Traffic (EMA) – at the Central Bureau for Driving Skills (CBR). Motorists who drive over the speed limit in built-up areas (i.e. cities and residential neighbourhoods) will also be required to take a new course, called Light Educational Measure Behavior (LEMG).
6. NIPT now freely available to all pregnant people
As was confirmed in Rutte IV’s coalition agreement, as of April 1, 2023, the non-invasive prenatal test (NIPT) will become available to all pregnant people for free, without them having to register to take part in a scientific study. The NIPT is a blood test that can be used to detect a number of chromosomal abnormalities, such as Down syndrome. From April, the test will be offered at approximately 400 locations across the country.
7. Schiphol Airport to cap passenger numbers (again)
In an attempt to limit queues and disruption over the busy spring period, Schiphol has once again agreed to implement a cap on the number of passengers. This spring, the number of passengers departing from the airport every day will be reduced by 5 percent.
The cap will be in place until mid-May (after the end of the school holidays) and will largely affect flights scheduled to depart before noon – generally the busiest time of day at the airport – but in the week leading up to Easter, the cap will be in effect throughout the day.
8. Higher taxes on tobacco and cigarettes from April 1
In an ongoing effort to reduce the number of smokers in the Netherlands, the Dutch government has announced that the tax rates on cigarettes will be increased. From April 1, the excise duty on cigarettes and other tobacco products will increase by 1,22 euros – although suppliers have until June 1 to sell their remaining stock to tobacconists at the current price, so it could take a few months before customers are affected.
In theory, from April 1 anyone looking to buy a pack of 20 cigarettes will have to fork over an average of around 9 euros. The excise duty is set to rise by a further 1,22 euros next year.
9. The Netherlands gets a break for Easter weekend
The Netherlands has had a long dry spell the last couple of months – not in terms of the weather, but in terms of bank holidays. Luckily, that’ll come to an end in April. Easter weekend is right around the corner, and while the Netherlands sadly doesn’t get Good Friday off from work or school, it does get Easter Monday on April 10. Looking for some inspiration on how to celebrate this springtime holiday? We’re here to help!
10. Schools count down the days to the May holiday
It feels like nary a month goes by when schools in the Netherlands aren’t getting ready for a break or preparing to go back to school after the holidays – and April is no different. While Dutch schools don’t break for Easter, children can look forward to a week-long break at the end of the month. This year, schools close for the meivakantie on April 28, and reopen their doors on May 8.
11. Deadline for annual tax return fast approaching
As of March 1, everyone living in the Netherlands has been able to submit their annual tax return (belastingaangifte), but the end of tax season is already fast approaching. Technically, April is the last month you’re able to submit your tax return.
The official deadline is May 1, but extensions are possible.
12. King’s Day to turn the Netherlands orange on April 27
And last but certainly not least, we’ve got the ultimate Dutch holiday: King’s Day, or Koningsdag. Shortly after the long Easter weekend, the Netherlands is treated to a second public holiday in honour of the birthday of King Willem-Alexander on April 27. This year is extra special, as 2023 marks 10 years since Queen Beatrix abdicated and her son took over the mantle of monarch.
Thumb: Wut_Moppie via Shutterstock.com.