NL-Alert: The Netherlands' public warning system

NL-Alert: The Netherlands' public warning system

Discover NL-Alert, the Netherlands' robust public warning system. Learn how it works, its effectiveness, and how it aids in emergency preparedness.


How NL-Alert works

The NL-Alert comes into play during emergencies. It is the government's method of alerting and informing the public in the event of a crisis. If you receive an NL-Alert, it is crucial to read the message immediately and follow the instructions. It is also equally vital to inform others, as it's possible that some may miss the alert due to their phone being switched off or temporarily connected to a transmission tower that does not broadcast the NL-Alert.

The NL-Alert is received on your mobile phone. The alert explains the nature of the situation, the necessary actions to take, and where to find more information. When you receive an NL-Alert, you will hear a penetrating alarm sound, distinct from a regular message. To receive NL-Alerts, your mobile device must be switched on, but no further setup is required. The service is free and anonymous, ensuring your phone number remains private. You will receive an NL-Alert even if the mobile network is overloaded. Furthermore, NL-Alerts are increasingly visible on digital advertising screens and public transportation information screens.

NL-Alert test messages

The government sends out NL-Alert test messages on the first Monday of June and December each year. These messages are clearly marked as tests, requiring no action from the recipients. This procedure allows the public to experience firsthand what it is like to receive an NL-Alert. Remarkably, nine out of ten Dutch citizens aged 12 and above now receive the NL-Alert test message.

The test message generally reads something like this (in Dutch):

“NL-Alert 05-06-2023 12.00: TEST MESSAGE. The government warns you during emergencies via NL-Alert. You read what you must do and where you can find more information. Look at *** TEST MESSAGE Netherlands Government Public Warning System. No action required. More information:”

Be aware that the NL-Alert can sound quite loud, especially for those using earphones or headphones. Therefore, it is advisable to remove these devices just before the test time. 


How effective is NL-Alert?

Research indicates that approximately half (49%) of Dutch citizens aged 12 and above follow the advice provided in the NL-Alert. Seven in ten say they would inform others if they receive an NL-Alert during an emergency, most commonly their family (42%), friends (19%), and neighbours (14%).

The NL-Alert system exemplifies the Dutch government's commitment to maintaining public safety. As this system continues to develop and adapt to changing technology, it promises to provide an essential service for Dutch citizens in times of crisis. In the Netherlands, we are well-prepared for emergencies. The NL-Alert test message aids in this preparation.

However, it is always beneficial to anticipate unexpected threats. Major power outages, flooding, or extreme heat can have significant impacts on individuals and their communities. Therefore, it is wise to discuss with those around you what you can do collectively to ensure everyone's safety and to assemble an emergency kit. For more information, visit

The Dutch burqa ban in Rotterdam - the rules and exceptions

The Dutch burqa ban in Rotterdam - the rules and exceptions

The Partial Ban on Face-Covering Clothing Act, popularly referred to as the burqa or niqab ban, entered into force on 1 August 2019. The ban says it is not allowed to wear face-covering clothing in education, government institutions, health care and public transport.

As of 1 August 2019, it is forbidden for anyone to wear facial clothing in the tram, bus, metro and train as well as in and around buildings of education, healthcare and government. At these locations, it is deemed important, in the interested of public safety and services, that everyone can recognise and look at each other. It is therefore not permitted to wear clothing that makes the face unrecognizable, such as a full-face helmet, balaclava or burqa.

Part of the reason why people have dubbed it the 'burqa ban,' is because the law was first introduced as a motion by far-right, anti-Islam politician Geert Wilders in 2005.

How the burqa ban works

On paper, a person wearing facial clothing can be made aware of the ban by an employee of the location in public transport and in a building of education, care and government. The employee may ask the person concerned to remove the facial clothing or otherwise leave the location. If the person involved does not do this, the police can be called in and they risk a fine of €150.

Unwillingness to enforce

However, in Rotterdam, the police and public transportation authority RET, have both expressed unwillingness to enforce the ban. If you do wear a burqa or niqab, it's highly unlikely that you'll be fined for taking a ride in the tram. Erasmus University has indicated they won't be enforcing the ban either. Rotterdam-based political party NIDA has announced it will reimburse every woman who receives a fine.

How many women wear niqabs in the Netherlands? 0.002%

Critics of the law say it tackles a 'problem' that does not exist. The amount of women who wear burqas in the Netherlands is statistically irrelevant. It is very rare to see a woman wearing a burqa on the street. There are, however, some women who wear niqabs. In 2006, experts estimated there were between 50 and 100 women who regularly wear niqabs in the Netherlands. Other estimates ranged from 200 to 400. One expert, professor Annelies Moors puts the number somewhere between at least 100 regular wearers and at the most 400 (including parttime wearers). If one were to take the highest estimate (400) and the lowest population count (17 million), the math would show that 0.002% of the population wear niqabs.

Exceptions to the Dutch burqa ban

The ban does not apply to clothing that is necessary for the protection of the body, for example in the exercise of a profession or a sport. Nor does the prohibition apply to clients, patients or their visitors in living quarters of care institutions where people are staying for a longer period of time. Finally, the ban does not apply to clothing that is suitable for festive and cultural activities.
8 simple rules for barbecuing in Rotterdam parks

8 simple rules for barbecuing in Rotterdam parks

Planning a barbecue party in the park? Don't let the cops rain on your parade. Here are eight rules you need to keep in mind when setting up a barbecue in Rotterdam's many public parks.
We usually don't have long summers in the Netherlands, so whenever the sun is shining, people flock to the parks for recreation. One of the more fun (and tasty) activities is a barbecue! Whether it's meat or vegetables, who doesn't like the taste of grilled food?
Open-air barbecues are allowed in most parks. However, in the most popular parks such as Kralingse Bos, Het Park (Euromast) and Zuiderpark it is only permitted to barbecue within specially designated barbecue zones. Another fun park you might want to check out is Vroesenpark near the Blijdorp metro station, though it's a bit smaller and often pretty busy.
In general, though, there are eight simple rules you need to abide by when barbecuing in Rotterdam parks:

Rules for setting up a barbecue in Rotterdam's parks

  • Maintain a distance of at least 2 meters from trees and bushes
  • When done, extinguish the hot coals and deposit them in the metal charcoal containers (not on the grass)
  • The barbecue must be set up on a stable surface
  • The barbecue is not allowed to be in direct contact with the grass
  • Open fire is forbidden
  • Always leave the spot clean for new visitors. Waste can be disposed of in the designated waste containers.
  • Directions from the fire brigade, police and bylaw enforcement must always be followed
  • Alcohol consumption in parks is allowed from April 1st to October 1st

Rules regarding alcohol use

Outside the summer months, alcohol consumption is only allowed in a handful of parks. In the period from April 1st to October 1st, however, there is an exception and you can drink a beer or wine in the Rotterdam parks during your barbecue. Keep it nice, because alcohol-related disturbances remain punishable everywhere.

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