Whether a tourist requires a visa to enter the Netherlands all depends on his or her nationality. Citizens of the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and dozens of other countries are allowed to spend up to 90 days in the Netherlands without a tourist visa; see a list of countries whose nationals are exempted from the tourist visa requirement. (Nationals of European Union (EU)/European Economic Area (EEA) member countries and Switzerland are exempt from all visa requirements.) Visa-exempt tourists can spend 90 days in any 180-day period in the Schengen Area (see below).
For nationalities that require a visa to enter the Netherlands (see link for list of countries), a "Schengen visa" must be obtained in person from the Dutch embassy or consulate of the traveler's home country. Schengen visas are valid for the 26 countries of the Schengen Area: Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland. Auxiliary documents, such as proof of financial means, hotel reservations or invitation letter from a personal contact in the Netherlands, proof of intent to return to one's home country, or proof of medical travel insurance may be required. (Visa holders should take copies of these documents with them on their travels.)
If the visa applicant intends to visit more than one Schengen country on the same trip, the visa application should be submitted to the mission of his or her chief destination; if no country meets this qualification, then the visa can be obtained from mission of the first Schengen country the applicant will enter. Visa applications take 15 to 30 days to process; visas are issued no more than three months before travel. Visa holders must report to the local municipality within 72 hours of arrival; this requirement is waived for visitors who rent accommodations in a hotel, campsite or similar.
Tourist visas are issued for a maximum of 90 days in any 180-day period; non-Dutch nationals who wish to spend more than three months in the Netherlands must apply for a purpose-specific, temporary residence permit and, in some cases, a visa. To find out more about Dutch resident permits and visas, see the Immigration and Naturalisation Service web site.