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Bonaire Stripes

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Bonaire Travel Guide

Key Facts

290 sq km (112 sq miles).


19,408 (CBS value 2016).

Population density

60 per sq km.




The National Office for the Caribbean Netherlands acts on behalf of the Government of the Netherlands. The Kingdom Representative for the public bodies of Bonaire, Saint Eustatius and Saba represents the Government of the Netherlands on Bonaire.

Head of state

King Willem-Alexander since 2013, represented locally by administrator Edison Rijna since 2014.

Head of government

Prime Minister Jan Helmond since 2018.


127 volts AC, 50Hz. North American-style plugs with two flat pins (with or without round grounding pin) are most common.

Bonaire is the second-largest island in the former Dutch Antilles, and has desert-like terrain offset by inviting turquoise waters. Beneath the water's surface, rainbow-hued fish drift in between coral, and many believe argue that the diving and snorkelling here is the best in the Caribbean; Bonaire's relative lack of tourism means much of its coral has gone undisturbed. For those seeking sailing or windsurfing, the characteristic windswept postures of the divi divi trees show that Bonaire's warm, dry and breezy climate is ideal for these sorts of activities.

Bonaire is highly eco-friendly and keen not to impair the fragile infrastructure of the coral, nor unsettle the island's serenity with heavy development and glitzy nightlife. Consequently, Bonaire's beautiful beaches and safe waters have remained intact. Flamingos wander the landscape of multi-hued salt plains, and multitudes of birds enjoy this paradisiacal sanctuary.

Bonaire was part of the Netherland Antilles until its dissolution in 2010. It is now a special municipality of The Netherlands.

Travel Advice

Check separate travel advice pages for advice on travel to the constituent countries and special municipalities located in the Dutch Caribbean.

The Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) provides advice about risks of travel to help British nationals make informed decisions. Find out more about FCDO travel advice.

Before you travel

No travel can be guaranteed safe. Read all the advice in this guide as well as support for British nationals abroad which includes:

  • advice on preparing for travel abroad and reducing risks
  • information for women, LGBT and disabled travellers

Follow and contact FCDO travel on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. You can also sign up to get email notifications when this advice is updated.

Travel insurance

If you choose to travel, research your destinations and get appropriate travel insurance. Insurance should cover your itinerary, planned activities and expenses in an emergency.

This advice reflects the UK government’s understanding of current rules for people travelling on a full ‘British citizen’ passport from the UK, for the most common types of travel.

The authorities in the Netherlands set and enforce entry rules. If you’re not sure how these requirements apply to you, contact the Netherlands’ embassy in the UK.


Countries may restrict travel or bring in rules at short notice. Check with your travel company or airline for changes.

If you test positive for COVID-19, you may need to stay where you are until you test negative. You may also need to seek treatment there.

Visit TravelHealthPro (from the UK’s National Travel Health Network and Centre) for general COVID-19 advice for travellers.

Travel to the Netherlands

There are no COVID-19 travel restrictions for the Netherlands. See the Dutch government website for information on COVID-19.

Passport validity requirements

If you are planning to travel to an EU country (except Ireland), or Switzerland, Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Andorra, Monaco, San Marino or Vatican City, you must follow the Schengen area passport requirements.

Your passport must be:

  • issued less than 10 years before the date you enter the country (check the ‘date of issue’)
  • valid for at least 3 months after the day you plan to leave (check the ‘expiry date’)

You must check your passport meets these requirements before you travel. If your passport was issued before 1 October 2018, extra months may have been added to its expiry date.

Contact the embassy of the country you are visiting if you think that your passport does not meet both these requirements. Renew your passport if you need to.

Passport stamping

At Dutch border control, you may need to:

  • show a return or onward ticket

  • show you have enough money for your stay

Check your passport is stamped if you enter or exit the Schengen area through the Netherlands as a visitor. Border guards will use passport stamps to check you’re complying with the 90-day visa-free limit for short stays in the Schengen area. If relevant entry or exit stamps are not in your passport, border guards will presume that you have overstayed your visa-free limit.

You can show evidence of when and where you entered or exited the Schengen area, and ask the border guards to add this date and location in your passport. Examples of acceptable evidence include boarding passes and tickets.

If you are a resident in the Netherlands, read our living in the Netherlands guide.

Visa requirements

You can travel to countries in the Schengen area for up to 90 days in any 180-day period without a visa. This applies if you travel:

  • as a tourist
  • to visit family or friends
  • to attend business meetings, cultural or sports events
  • or for short-term studies or training

If you are travelling to the Netherlands and other Schengen countries without a visa, make sure your whole visit is within the 90-day limit. Visits to Schengen countries within the previous 180 days before you travel count towards your 90 days.

To stay longer (to work or study, for business travel or for other reasons) you must meet the Dutch government’s entry requirements. Check which type of visa or work permit you may need on the Dutch government website.

If you are travelling to the Netherlands for work, read the guidance on visas and permits.

If you stay in the Netherlands with a residence permit or long-stay visa, this does not count towards your 90-day visa-free limit.

Vaccination requirements (other than COVID-19)

At least 8 weeks before your trip, check the vaccinations and vaccination certificates you may need on TravelHealthPro.

Customs rules

There are strict rules about goods that can be brought into and taken out of the Netherlands. You must declare anything that may be prohibited or subject to tax or duty.

Taking food and drink into the Netherlands

You cannot take meat, milk or products containing them into EU countries. There are some exceptions for medical reasons, for example certain amounts of powdered infant milk, infant food, or pet food required for medical reasons. Check the rules about taking food and drink into the EU on the European Commission website.

You should also read FCDO’s overall travel advice.


There is a high threat of terrorist attack globally affecting UK interests and British nationals, including from groups and individuals who view the UK and British nationals as targets. You should remain vigilant at all times.

UK Counter Terrorism Policing has information and advice on staying safe abroad and what to do in the event of a terrorist attack. Find out how to reduce your risk from terrorism while abroad.

Terrorism in the Netherlands

Terrorists are likely to try to carry out attacks in the Netherlands.

Attacks could be indiscriminate, including in places frequented by foreigners. You should remain aware of your surroundings, keep up to date with local media reports and follow the advice of local authorities. Recent attacks include:

  • in 2019, 4 people were killed and 6 injured in a shooting incident in Utrecht

  • in 2018, 2 people were seriously injured in a knife attack at Amsterdam Central Station

On 12 December 2023 the Netherlands raised its National Terrorist Threat Level. This means that they assess there is a heightened risk of a terrorist attack in the Netherlands.


Protect your belongings

Pick-pocketing and bag snatching are common, particularly in central Amsterdam and around Amsterdam Central Station. Thieves often operate in gangs on the trains and trams to and from Schiphol airport and Central Station. One thief distracts you while another steals your bag. Sleeping on trains can make you an easy target.

Thieves can enter restaurants attempting to sell you something or look for someone. Bags have been stolen from between people’s feet while they were distracted.

You should:

  • be alert
  • keep sight of your luggage and belongings
  • keep valuables safely on you
  • not leave bags or jackets hanging on the back of a chair in restaurants
  • avoid falling asleep in public or on public transport

If you are a victim of theft, contact the nearest police station and get a police report.

Scams – fake police ID

Amsterdam police have warned of criminals using false police identities to trick tourists into handing over cash and credit cards. They will usually say that it is part of and investigation into counterfeit money and false credit cards. Be very cautious about any approaches.

Genuine plain-clothed police will rarely carry out this type of inspection. Dutch police don’t have shiny badges, which the fake police sometimes present as ID.

You should:

  • be cautious if approached
  • ask for identity and check it thoroughly
  • not let them intimidate you

Call 0900-8844 to contact the nearest police station if you are unsure whether a police person is genuine.

Drug sellers

Avoid confrontation with anyone offering you drugs. Stay away from quiet or dark alleys, particularly late at night.

Drink spiking

There is a risk of drink spiking, particularly for young women and solo travellers. Don’t leave your drink unattended.  If you think your drink has been spiked, seek immediate medical help and inform the police. If you are in a group, make sure you leave together.

Laws and cultural differences

Personal ID

By law, anyone from the age of 14 and over must always be able to show a valid form of identification. British nationals should use their passport as ID. Dual-nationals can show a valid Dutch driving license, passport or Dutch/European identity card. For people aged 16 or over who fail to comply with the requirement to identify themselves, the fine is 100 euros. For persons aged 14 and 15, the fine is 50 euros.

Illegal drugs and prison sentences

Don’t carry or use drugs. The Netherlands has a reputation for being tolerant on the use of ‘soft drugs’, such as cannabis. However, drugs are illegal and drug use is only tolerated in designated premises in the major cities. Buying or possessing prohibited drugs and substances outside of designated areas, is illegal and can result in a prison sentence.

Buying or smoking soft drugs in public places is an offence. There are specific cafés where the use of cannabis is tolerated.

The sale of dry and fresh psychoactive mushrooms is illegal. However, the truffle (sclerotium) form of psychoactive (psilocybin) mushrooms are not covered under Dutch law (Opium Act) and are still sold in regulated ‘smart shops’. Be extremely careful as mixing alcohol, cannabis and wild mushrooms can be fatal.

Transport risks

Road travel

If you are planning to drive in the Netherlands, see information on driving abroad and read the RAC guide.

Licences and permits

When driving in the Netherlands, always carry your:

  • driving licence
  • insurance documents
  • vehicle documents
  • photo ID such as a passport or residence permit

If you are driving a vehicle that does not belong to you, you may need written permission from the registered owner. You are not allowed to drive on a provisional license.

If you’re living in the Netherlands, check the living in guide for information on requirements for residents.

Driving a British car abroad

You may need a UK sticker to drive your car outside the UK. From 2021, UK stickers have replaced GB stickers. Find more information on what to do if you are driving outside the UK.

Driving regulations

Traffic offences can carry heavy, on-the-spot fines. If you are fined, always ask for a receipt.

Watch out for trams. They have priority over other traffic. You must stop if a tram or a bus stops in the middle of the road to let passengers on and off.

Speed cameras, speed traps and unmarked vehicles are widely used. Motorway speed limits can vary. You must follow overhead illuminated lane indicators when in use.

Pedestrians and road safety

Be careful when crossing roads, especially on zebra crossings. Look out for cyclists and mopeds, who have right of way over motor vehicles and often ignore road traffic rules and red lights.

You could be fined for jaywalking.

Amsterdam canals

Every year people drown in the canals of Amsterdam. The majority of drownings happen after heavy drinking or smoking cannabis. Take care when travelling beside canals.

Before you travel check that:

  • your destination can provide the healthcare you may need
  • you have appropriate travel insurance for local treatment or unexpected medical evacuation

This is particularly important if you have a health condition or are pregnant.

Emergency medical number

Dial 112 and ask for an ambulance.

Contact your insurance or medical assistance company promptly if you’re referred to a medical facility for treatment.

For more information, read our guidance on healthcare when travelling in Europe.

Vaccinations and health risks

At least 8 weeks before your trip check:


The legal status and regulation of some medicines prescribed or bought in the UK can be different in other countries.

TravelHealthPro explains best practice when travelling with medicines.

The NHS has information on whether you can take your medicine abroad.

Healthcare facilities in the Netherlands

You can view a list of English speaking doctors in the Netherlands.

COVID-19 healthcare in the Netherlands

If you develop COVID-19 symptoms during your stay, follow the advice about preventing the spread of respiratory infections on the Dutch government website.

If you need a COVID-19 self-test, you can buy them at a chemist or a pharmacy.


Self-isolate if you have a confirmed or suspected case of mpox (monkeypox). Report any mpox symptoms to the Dutch Municipal Health Service (GDD).  Find your local GGD centre on the GGD website or GGD Amsterdam. See further information on what to do if you have mpox on the Dutch Government website.

Health insurance cards

Apply for a free UK Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC) or European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) before leaving the UK. If you already have an EHIC, it will still be valid as long as it remains in date.

The GHIC or EHIC entitles you to state-provided medical treatment necessary during your trip. Any treatment provided is on the same terms as Dutch nationals. If you do not have your EHIC with you or you’ve lost it, contact the NHS Overseas Healthcare Team.

It’s important to take out appropriate travel insurance for your needs. A GHIC or EHIC is not an alternative to travel insurance and you should have both before you travel. An EHIC or GHIC does not cover all health-related costs, for example, medical repatriation, ongoing medical treatment and non-urgent treatment. Read more about what your travel insurance should cover.

EHIC and GHIC cover state healthcare only, not private treatment. You will be responsible for the cost of any treatment provided by a private doctor or private clinic.

Travel and mental health

Read FCDO guidance on travel and mental health. There is also guidance on TravelHealthPro.

The Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) cannot provide tailored advice for individual trips. Read this travel advice and carry out your own research before deciding whether to travel.

Emergency services in the Netherlands

Telephone: 112 (ambulance, fire, police)

Contact your travel provider and insurer

Contact your travel provider and your insurer if you are involved in a serious incident or emergency abroad. They will tell you if they can help and what you need to do.

Refunds and changes to travel

For refunds or changes to travel, contact your travel provider. You may also be able to make a claim through insurance. However, insurers usually require you to talk to your travel provider first.

Find out more about changing or cancelling travel plans, including:

  • where to get advice if you are in a dispute with a provider
  • how to access previous versions of travel advice to support a claim

Support from FCDO

FCDO has guidance on staying safe and what to do if you need help or support abroad, including:

Contacting FCDO

Follow and contact FCDO travel on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. You can also sign up to get email notifications when this travel advice is updated.

Help abroad in an emergency

If you are abroad and you need emergency help from the UK government, contact the nearest British embassy, consulate or high commission.

You can also contact FCDO online.

FCDO in London

You can call FCDO in London if you need urgent help because something has happened to a friend or relative abroad.

Telephone: 020 7008 5000 (24 hours)

Find out about call charges

Risk information for British companies

The Overseas Business Risk service offers information and advice for British companies operating overseas on how to manage political, economic, and business security-related risks.

Visa and passport information is updated regularly and is correct at the time of publishing. You should verify critical travel information independently with the relevant embassy before you travel.