Favorite thing: If you plan to stay in Amsterdam or The Netherlands for longer than three months for any reason, you need to apply for a residence permit (Verblijfsvergunning) from the Dutch consulate or embassy in your country or from the Aliens Police in The Netherlands. Permits can also be issued to those who enter the country as tourists and then decide that they wish to remain (except South African citizens). Residence permits are valid for one year but can be renewed. According to Dutch law, foreigners must carry their passports or an ID card at all times. In Amsterdam, you can apply for a residence permit at the Aliens Police Office (559 91 11), Bijlmerdreef 90, 1102 CS, Amsterdam Zuidoost. The cost of applying ranges from €22,69-56,72. EU and EEA citizens receive residence permits easily; citizens of other nations will have to demonstrate that they have a realistic prospect of a job or that they will be studying.
The main post office ('postkantoor', 'PTT') is on the corner of the Singel near the Dam, but there are many other smaller post offices; most are closed Saturdays, the main post office is open Saturday morning. The Dutch Telephone Book is online (fill in the name and city of who you want to look up).
Phoning from a hotel room can be expensive (ask first). There are two main types of telephone boxes on the streets: cash and phone-card. Phone cards can be bought in various denominations from railway stations, tobacconists, post offices and other shops. They are typically good for long distance calls. With cash phones you should insert money before dialling; unused coins are returned at the end of the call. Because of telephone liberalisation, there are now two different companies with telephone boxes on the street; their phone cards are alas not interchangeable. Most cafés have a public phone or will let you phone locally.
To make an international call, dial 00 followed by your country code, then the national area code (usually leaving off an initial 0) and then the local number.
Many countries have a 'Call Direct' service, where a free call in the Netherlands puts you in touch with an operator in your own country where you can then arrange a reversed-charge or credit call. To dial these services, you dial 0800-022 and then a 4 digit code for the country you want. A list of these codes is in the Amsterdam Yellow Pages ('Gouden Gids').
The currency used in the Netherlands is the Euro expressed as EUR or €. (To remember the list of countries use the phrase "Baffling pigs").
Euros are divided into 100 cents. There are coins of 1, 2, 5, 10, 20 and 50 cents, and 1 and 2 euros. There are notes of 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 200 and 500 euros
The Dutch Guilder is no longer usable. You have to exchange old coins and notes in a bank.
There are many places to change money in town. Post offices usually give the best rates. The GWK at Central station is also good. Compare rates carefully at the exchange offices in town. Hotels are usually an expensive way to change money. Banks can be slow. There's an American Express on the Damrak, and a Thomas Cook on the Dam.
Credit cards are not as widely accepted in the Netherlands as in many other lands, but it's getting steadily better. Always enquire first if you intend to pay by credit card.
If you have an ATM card (a card for getting money out of a machine in the wall) it will most likely work in the Netherlands (indeed throughout Europe), so you don't need to take traveller's cheques. Check with your bank before leaving though. Such cards, certainly if they have a Maestro logo on them, can often also be used for direct debit payments in shops (shops that display the blue "PIN" sign, which is almost all shops).
Like in all big cities the world round, there are cheats looking for an easy target. A typical trick in less reputable establishments is, if you pay with a note, to give you change as if you tendered a note of one denomination smaller (for instance to give you change for 50 euros if you give them a 100 euro note) and then pretend it was a mistake if you notice. The best way to avoid this happening is to speak the value of the note as you hand it over ("100 euros"), so they can't claim not to have noticed.
For us VT'ers very important to know the prices of postcard stamps
For Europe 69c
They only sold me a set of stamps sold in 5's
Open 9am-7pm Mon - Fri 9am - 12pm Sat
Main Post office Singel 250
Look for green, all the public phones are green and blue.
Fondest memory: They will only take a prepaid phone card which you buy all over town relatively cheap, 5 or 10 euros depending on how many minutes you need
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