Amsterdam is known to be the capital of the party, mainly because of its liberal policies. However, as I noticed, many people who are planning to visit Amsterdam, are wondering if bars, clubs, and coffee shops here are strict on ID. Or maybe the age restrictions are there just to keep the political correctness?
The age restrictions are treated seriously in Amsterdam, and they are very strict on ID. You will not enter any coffee shop without showing a document that confirms your identity. It is more liberal in clubs and bars but still, you have to show your ID to buy alcohol.
It may look a bit strange to a visitor who is coming to Amsterdam for a party. The city is famous for its outright sale and the free use of weed after all. But in order to prevent minors and tourists from breaking the law, rules for bars, club, and coffeeshops have been tightened. Below you will find some more details about it.
Do I Need My ID in Coffee Shops?
Amsterdam’s coffeeshops have many rules and they are quite strict on most of them. One of the most important rules is an age restriction. A person who is under 18 is not allowed to buy and consume any products in coffeeshops in Amsterdam. Also, selling “weed” to people under 18 is forbidden.
In most coffeeshops in Amsterdam, you have to be at least 18 to be allowed to enter the coffeeshops. What might look surprising, some coffee shops even require you to be older than 21. What is more, smoking in public is not allowed in Amsterdam. Even if you are 18+ and you have your ID with you, you can only smoke in a coffee shop.
Always Have an ID or Passport With You
Anyways, you should always have your ID or passport with you. No coffeeshop will risk losing their license by letting teenagers in. I have never seen a coffeeshop where the ID is not being checked at the door. Do not cherish illusions – if you are <18, you will be denied at the entrance. Coffeeshops in Amsterdam are very strict about it.
Of course, there are some small dubious coffeeshops that try to make more money letting minors in. If you do quick research, you will definitely find at least several coffeeshops that sell their products to people under 18. However, keep in mind that they risk much more than a client. A coffee shop that is caught selling to minors, will probably be closed down. So, the risk here is quite high. However, instead of going to a coffee shop, you can also visit a smoker-friendly bar. In some of them, you are able to buy some beer even if you are 16.
How Much Weed You Can Get?
No matter your age, at a coffee shop you cannot possess (or buy) more than 5 grams of weed. Theoretically, even you have less than 5 grams with you, it is still possible the police will seize it. If you have more than 5 grams, you will be at least fined. There is also a chance you will be prosecuted.
If you are interested in cannabis and coffeeshops you may want to go for a coffeeshop tour. Otto, a Dutch guy, is an expert when it comes to coffeeshops and cannabis. He runs some cool tours in Amsterdam. You can learn more about them here.
Do I Need My ID in Clubs and Bars?
When it comes to clubs and bars, Amsterdam has been always considered to be very relaxed. However, mainly because of tourists and teenagers have not respected the limits, bars and clubs had to tighten the rules.
Very often you are let into a bar without showing your ID, even when you are a minor. You will be able to order some food. However, if you are under 18 or you just look young and do not have your ID with you, you won’t be able to buy any alcohol. There are many clubs (to be honest, those are most of the clubs in Amsterdam) you will not pass the entrance door if you do not have your ID.
Below you will find a few Amsterdam’s clubs where you have to be at least 18 to enter:
- Paradiso – one of the most famous clubs in Amsterdam;
- Club AIR;
- Jimmy Woo
If you are wondering, if they are strict on ID in clubs in Amsterdam, do not wonder anymore. They are crazy strict. If you look under 25, your ID will be definitely checked. Sometimes saying that you are a 19-year-old who forgot your ID, can be somehow successful. But is it worth all the stress? Theoretically, clubs set their own limits on age but they have to be based on legal drinking age.
And legally it is very simple – clubs cannot sell alcohol to minors under 18, even if you are just before your eighteenth birthday. Bars usually set 16 years old as a minimum age to enter but I have seen many bars in Amsterdam with a ‘above-18’ restriction.
It must be said that clubs and bars are treated differently than coffeeshops. Clubs set their age limits and they are strict on ID in general but it cannot be compared to coffee shops. The license of a coffeeshop owner is very easy to lose and this is why they place a high value on age restriction. Legit identification is key to enter a coffee shop and try some of its goods. So, if you are a tourist, do not forget to always have your passport with you.
Where else do I need my ID?
Police in Amsterdam is quite strict. If you are traveling to Amsterdam, you should remember to always have a document that will confirm your identity. Remember that you should always be able to show a valid ID when asked by a policeman. You should have one of the below IDs:
- a valid ID card;
- a driver license;
- a passport.
The police will not accept bankcards, student cards, credit cards etc. If you are a visitor from a country outside the EU, you also need to provide the police with your residence permit.
Do not believe in stories that Amsterdam’s police will not be strict if you look legit. That is bullshit. No matter the person and their look, you need to confirm who you are. And such strict rules do not involve tourists only. Every resident of the Netherlands is required a proof of identity to police or other officials. (like traffic wardens). If they do not, they risk having to pay a fine.
It is always good to have a copy of your ID on your smartphone or in your email. This is a good tip for those who do not want to take their ID while wandering on Amsterdam’s streets. It is of course not acceptable to confirm your identity with a copy of a document but it is better than nothing and sometimes it can work. You will probably be fined for not having your ID with you but maybe you will save some time you would spend at the police station.
A few words about fake IDs
Fake IDs have become a serious problem in the Netherlands, particularly in the biggest and most international cities like Amsterdam. False identity cards are seized by the police very often, especially on weekends. The most common situation is when minor visitors try to use the false documents to get into the night clubs, bars and coffeeshops – all places where alcohol and weed are sold.
Young people try to use fake documents to buy alcohol. For this reason, some bars, clubs and coffeeshops have a door policy – you will not be allowed to enter if you are under 18. Some even make it 21.
Possession of Fake ID is a Crime
Do not forget that counterfeiting official documents is a criminal offense. What is more, possessing such documents is also a crime. According to Dutch law, any person who possesses a false identity document (or even an identity document which relates to another person), commits an offense. Such a person is liable for conviction.
What is worth mentioning, if an older person lends their ID to a minor, both persons will be punished. When a minor uses a fake ID for the first time, the police make a note in the system. Besides, a teenager has to spend 8 – 12 hours in conversations about alcohol use and ID fraud. If it happens again, they will proceed with an official report and even the arrest. Plus, the teenager has to pay a fine of up to 370 Euro.
What is quite worrying, more and more young Dutch are being caught for using fake IDs. According to official figures of NOS more than 500 youngsters were caught with a fake document last year.
The final word
In my opinion age restrictions and being strict on ID in such a big city as Amsterdam, is a good idea. Of course, sometimes it is annoying to show your ID many times during one evening but this is the only way to keep minors away from buying cannabis and alcohol in coffeeshops, bars and clubs. This is why the age limit rules should be treated seriously.