What to do when I hear the sirens?

Every first Monday of the month you at 12 (noon) you will hear the sirens. Iit is just a test and it takes 1 minute and 26 seconds. YThe alarm has nothing to do with attacks from an enemy anymore. Nowadays, it is a warning in case of a huge fire or an environmental disaster.

If you hear the sirens on any other day or time other than the first Monday of any month, do the following:


  • Go inside. If you are outside, working or shopping, go inside as soon as possible, for example enter a shop or any other building.
  • If you are in a car, leave your car and go into a building. In case this is not possible (e.g. you are on a highway), stay inside the car and close all windows and ventilation/air conditioning.
  • Leave your children at school.
  • Offer others the opportunity to hide with you.
  • Close the windows and the doors. Also close other openings in your house and if possible turn the air conditioning off.
  • Do not make phone calls unless absolutely necessary.
  • Listen to the regional radio. The government will inform you via this channel what is going on and what you need to do. If you don’t understand Dutch, ask your neighbours or other people near you what you need to to.

In case of a national emergency, listen to NPO Radio 1 (see www.radio-frequentie.nl/radio-1/ for a frequency list) or watch  TV on channel NPO 1 (also known as Nederland 1). The frequency of channel NPO 1 depends on your location and your television provider.

You can find additional information on what to do in case of emergency and how you can prepare for one at this website www.crisis.nl (Dutch only)

In addition NL-alert is used to inform you about disasters. It tells you what’s going on, what you should do and where you can find more information.
You receive NL-Alert on your mobile phone. NL-Alert can also be seen on an increasing number of digital advertising displays and digital signage at train, bus, tram and metro stops. A handy factsheet about NL-alert can be found on the website of the government 


Where can I find after school care for my child?

In the Netherlands out-of-school care  (buitenschoolse opvang, BSO) is usually arranged outside the regular school system. However, primary schools are legally obliged to offer this if parents ask for it. As most schools don’t have the resources and staff to do, they will refer you to a specialised organisation.  Many out-of-school organisations have waiting lists. It is therefore advised to contact them well in advance.

The Dutch government reimburses a substantial portion of the cost of BSO. This benefit is called kinderopvangtoeslag. The amount that you will be entitled to receive is dependent on several factors such as the number of children, family income and the working hours of parents.

You can find more about the kinderopvangtoeslag in the FAQ about childcare .


Which municipal taxes do I have to pay?

In addition to national taxes, every resident in the Netherlands has to pay local taxes as well. Every year your municipality sends you a tax form that covers your local tax contributions for the year.

If you rent a house

If you are renting a house, it is likely you have to pay two local taxes: household waste tax and water tax.

Household waste tax  (afvalstoffenheffing) is used for the collection and processing of your household waste

Water tax (waterschapsbelasting) is billed separately by the water board (hoogheemraadschap) in your area. It is used for cleaning water, sanitation and flood prevention.

If you own a house

If you own a house you have to pay afvalstoffenheffing and waterschapsbelasting too.

In addition you have to pay sewage tax (rioolheffing) and  property tax (OZB, onroerende zaak belasting).

The rioolheffing is used to pay for waste water and for rainwater that ends up in the sewer.

The OZB is a percentage of the value of your house and is used to maintain the local  infrastructure.