We’ve finally made it to December, woohoo! But before you take a couple of days off and enjoy a small winter break, make sure to keep up to date with these important changes happening in the Netherlands this month!

1. Faster 5G internet to be available across the Netherlands from December 1 

From now on, Dutch mobile providers will be able to offer faster 5G internet to customers, following changes made by the government to the country’s 5G network. As of December 1, phone users with 5G data plans and 5G-equipped phones will be able to enjoy the new 3,5 gigahertz frequency, giving their internet speeds a boost. 

While 5G has been available in the Netherlands since 2020, not all frequencies have been able to be accessed, with some being reserved for other purposes such as for emergency services and safety communications with maritime shipping. 

2. Get ready for NS’ 2024 transport timetable

From telephony to transport, December 2023 really does have it all going on! At the end of the month, public transport provider NS will move over to its new timetable for the new year. As part of the changes, the company wants to add 1.800 train services to its schedule, including the return of some fan-favourites: the Intercity Direct on the high-speed line between Breda and Amsterdam and more Sprinters on many popular routes. 

The company says that the new changes are in response to changes in traveller behaviour after the COVID-19 pandemic. “The Netherlands travels differently and NS is adapting to this. That is why, where we see that passenger numbers are growing, we are expanding the timetable step by step,” NS CEO Wouter Koolmees said in a press release.

“For example, we want to run more trains on Mondays to Thursdays in 2024. And we are also expanding during the weekend. Four trains per hour will once again run between our major cities. This brings regions together and travellers can comfortably reach their destination,” he added. For more details on the new routes and timetables, check out NS’ website.

3. Deadline to change health insurance on December 31

An important December deadline that you should be sure not to forget is the rapidly approaching cut-off for swapping health insurance providers. If you want to change providers or adjust your current plan for 2024, you must make sure to have switched over by December 31. 

4. Sinterklaas is on his way for Pakjesavond!

Naughty children, look away! December 5 brings one of the Netherlands’ most well-known holidays – Sinterklaas! Our favourite bearded hero will bless all the well-behaved children of the Netherlands with wonderful Sinterklaas gifts once again, with the help of his Pieten! 

5. NS Christmas and New Year timetable 

In other NS news, there’s also the issue of when trains will be running over the winter holiday period. The public holidays observed by NS are Christmas (December 25), Boxing Day (December 26) and New Year’s Day (January 1). Throughout the main week between Christmas and New Year, NS often alters its timetable, with details about its holiday schedule revealed closer to the time. 

In short, it’s important to remember that public transportation is often busy at this time of year with people travelling to the airport to go home or on holiday, alongside revellers heading back to their home city from Christmas parties. Therefore it can be useful to plan your journey carefully to make sure you arrive on time and get a seat. Be sure to check the details of your journey in the NS app before leaving the house. 

6. School and public holidays for December

In addition to all the wonderful Christmas cheer and excitement for New Year celebrations, there are also some public holidays for us all to look forward to! On December 25, and 26, as well as January 1, many workers across the Netherlands will be able to take the day off, as they are three of the country’s cherished public holidays. 

The little ones will also be able to have some time off school as well, with Dutch schools breaking up for winter break in a few weeks’ time. All schools across the Netherlands will be away from their classrooms from December 23 until January 7, 2024. 

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

For those celebrating Christmas, the team at IamExpat wishes you a wonderful day and wishes a Happy New Year to all! May 2024 make all our expat dreams come true!

Image: Smeerjewegproducties / Shutterstock.com

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