The Netherlands Now Requires A Negative COVID Test Even For Transit Passengers

From midnight Monday, all international passengers traveling to the Netherlands must provide a negative PCR test certificate no older than 72 hours prior to boarding. This includes Dutch nationals, permanent residents, and those who are transiting via the country.

KLM Amsterdam at night
Starting on December 29th, all international travelers to the Netherlands must provide a negative PCR test result. Photo: KLM

Different Dutch approach to second wave

For a country that initially prided itself on what it called an “intelligent lockdown” back in March, the Netherlands has taken a much stricter approach during its second wave of COVID-19 infections. Following a significant spike in daily new cases in mid-December, Prime Minister Mark Rutte appeared in a rare televised speech to announce a new five-week period of harsh restrictions.

All non-essential shops, gyms, restaurants, schools and daycare centers are to remain closed until at least Monday, January 18th. Socializing outdoors is heavily restricted to groups of two, and only two guests over 13 are allowed in the home over 24 hours.

The Dutch authorities have strongly discouraged any travel abroad until at least March. However, apart from a “strongly suggested” ten-day quarantine period upon arrival, travel to the country has remained mostly unregulated – until now.

Starting at 00:01 on December 29th, all passengers boarding an aircraft to the Netherlands, including Dutch nationals and transit passengers, must provide a negative PCR test result. The test can be no older than 72 hours counted from departure for the Netherlands.

Schiphol prepares for COVID-19 vaccine

The authorities have instructed airlines to deny boarding to anyone not in possession of a negative test certificate. Photo. Getty Images

Airlines to deny boarding to anyone not in possession of a certificate

The rule requiring a negative test result has already been in effect for non-EU nationals since December 15th. It was expanded Wednesday to include all travelers from the UK and South Africa, as two different coronavirus mutations appeared to have caused surges in infections. 

The Dutch government decided to extend the requirement to all international passengers from December 29th on Wednesday. It will apply to all travelers, irrespective of whether or not the Netherlands is their final destination. However, children under 13 years of age and travelers from Iceland are exempt.

The government said that it had instructed airlines to deny boarding to anyone not in possession of a negative test certificate. The official wording is “airlines that fly to the Netherlands from a high-risk area,” but as the situation has unfolded, that effectively encompasses all countries with a direct air connection to the Netherlands.

Delta Amsterdam
It is unclear what this means for Delta Air Lines’ and KLM’s test-program allowing passengers to skip quarantine in Amsterdam. Photo: Delta Air Lines

Not a substitute for quarantine

The rule will also apply to those traveling by coach, train, or boat, with the exception of regional cross-border bus transport. However, it is not a substitute for the self-quarantine period of 14 days, the government stressed in a statement.

Meanwhile, Delta Air Lines and KLM have been operating a quarantine-free channel between Atlanta and Amsterdam on a double-test basis since December 15th. Passengers take a PCR test no less than five days prior to departure, and then a rapid test at the airport. It is unclear what effect the new 72-hour rule imposed by the Dutch government for the PCR tests will have on the program.

It is also uncertain how the inclusion of transit passengers will affect KLM, which relies heavily on Schiphol as a hub. In all probability, it is not a decision welcomed by the airline.

Are you planning to fly within the coming months? Does your destination require a negative PCR test? Let us know in the comments.