The touristic tax or a city tax is a common concept for well-experienced travelers. Most cities in the world have standardized the concept of asking tourists to pay for an extra tax on arrival and it is used like most taxes, to provide better services for those paying the taxes. The cost of it varies depending on the city and Amsterdam asks the tourists for a percentage of the hotel rate.
Amsterdam requests tourists to pay 7% of the cost of their accommodation when they arrive in the city (updated in 2019). This is the total cost of the room for the whole stay, excluding breakfast and other expenses. In some cases, this amount is paid in advance, in most it isn’t.
If your hotel room costs 100 euros and you are staying only one night, the city tax is 7 euros. Simple, right? But, how do you know if you have already paid the city tax? How much can you expect if you are staying at a hostel? What are the benefits of paying it? Is it options? If you are asking yourself any of these questions, keep reading this article and I may be able to help you out!
Amsterdam: City Tax
So here is the thing, as a student in Amsterdam, I started working at a little hotel in the center and there I got to learn a lot about the inside of the industry. The city tax was part of it and here are some of the things I have learned about it:
- Everybody has to pay it: you have to read properly the voucher you are bringing with you to your hotel or the confirmation email. If it doesn’t say explicitly that the City Tax is included, then it is not and you will have to pay it when you arrive at the hotel desk.
- Pay on Arrival: most likely, you will have to pay it when you arrive and not when you leave. This is a measure most hotels do so that you can do the check out at the most convenient time for you even if it is at a weird time in the middle of the night and the reception is closed. Making things easier!
- Cheaper or more expensive?: Some hotels have a standard city tax because their prices may vary throughout the year, so it may be a little bit more expensive than you expected or a little bit cheaper than you expected. It is, however, a matter of cents!
- No Taxi: it is not a taxi service, so don’t expect a car. Translation can play a key role when it comes to this word, but as long as you know it is a payment and not a car, all good.
- Not a deposit: it is none refundable, it is a payment, not a deposit.
- Hostels: these also ask for it, sometimes per room, sometime per person, something you will have to ask particularly depending on where you are staying.
- Airbnb: even if you are renting a place for a few days, you also have to pay. It is not a hotel tax, it is a tourists tax, something everybody visiting has to pay, something you have to keep in mind and read carefully when renting.
- Card or cash: if you arrive to your destination with a different currency you won’t be able to pay this with it, but you will certainly will be able to pay with card, the most common thing in the Netherlands.
- Not for the owner: it is an amount that will end up being paid to the City Hall of Amsterdam, it is not something the owner of the business can take profit out of.
- Expensive: even if it doesn’t sound like it, Amsterdam has a pretty expensive city tax. Compare to other European cities such as London or Paris this 7% is on the higher side.
- You have to pay it in every city: even if you have already visited another Dutch city, this is not a national tax but a city tax, therefore you will have to pay it in each municipality you stay in.
What is the City Tax for?
You may be wondering why you have to pay such a high tax if you are only staying in Amsterdam for a couple of days. Where can you see the benefit? Where does your money go?
The whole idea of having a touristic tax is maintaining the infrastructures tourists use or go through when they arrive in Amsterdam. The capital of the Netherlands is a very old and historical city (read more about the origins here) and also a very popular touristic destination. Having a lot of people and a lot of important places to keep in perfect state means a lot of money. This includes everything from benches in the most touristic places to proper transport. Here there is a list of the most common uses for this money:
- Help maintaining monuments, such as the obelisk or squares such as Rembrandtplein or Museumplein.
- Transportation, something very important to have a proper bus system that goes every 10 minutes to the airport.
- Airport facilities (read more about Schiphol here)
- Producing brochures: if you go to any Tourist and Tickets, any hotel or any museum they will have a big display with hundreds of brochures with information about the city. Useful information the city produces thanks to taxes to make the whole experience much better.
- Modernising touristic attractions: keeping the canals and other services properly clean and working, helping the restoration of historical and national buildings as well as many other small infrastructures.
- Garbage: cleaning all the parts of the city that tend to get more dirty and overcrowded, mainly for big events such as Pride Parade or Koningsdag.
- Organising such events too!
Who Has to Pay it?
Here there is a list of people who by law are included among those who have to pay a tax when staying at any sort of accommodation in the city of Amsterdam:
- children (any age)
- disabled and accompanying persons
- patients and carers for patients admitted to health facilities
- members of the armed forces of any country
- bus drivers
- leaders of touristic groups
- workers within the municipality
- other Dutch citizens who are visiting the city of Amsterdam
In the case of Amsterdam, the payment is a percentage of the total of the accommodation costs, which you can deduce it implies the accommodation and not who is staying. But working as a hotel receptionists I have heard all sort of excuses and questions, so here are all the people who are included and have to pay.
Taxes in the Netherlands
If you earn money in the Netherlands, like everywhere else, you are asked to pay taxes. Of course, in anything you buy there is also the extra tax rate included but besides that, your employer will retain from your salary enough to pay for holiday (8% of the salary), general taxes and pension for you (approx. 30% according to the tax.nl, calculate it yourself!) .
Here are some extra information if you are considering moving to Amsterdam or if you have already moved here and want to know more about how the taxation system works in this country:
In order to get the extra taxes you may have paid during the year you can declare them every year at the beginning of the year online and just having your DigiD close by. Here is the link for the Belansting Dienst Office where you can chose what specific case is yours.
The due dates always change but in general you have until the 1st of May of the next year to declare your taxes and if you have to pay some more or you get it back that would be by the month of July of that year.
By doing your taxes every year and by paying your contribution to the Government you are also entitled to a lot of benefit if your income is not higher than the minimum amount or if you work part-time, like it was my case being a student. Some of these Government Benefits are:
- Health Insurance (Zorgtoeslag): if paying the minimum 100 euros per month per person for your health insurance, it is a lot for your salary. Therefore, the Dutch Government covers most of this payment. You can apply for it as soon as you have an insurance and your DigiD to apply for this type of benefits. Apply here for it.
- Unemployment benefit in the Netherlands (WW-uitkering): here.
- Renting Benefits (Huurtoeslag): help offered to those residents of the Netherlands whose rent is lower than 710 euros per months, no matter where they are living.
- Child Benefits: three types of benefits for parents! You can read more about it on our Guide to Costs of Living in Amsterdam.
In Dutch it is called Toeristenbelasting, so instead of city tax it literally is tourists tax. If you are still looking for an accommodation during your stay in Amsterdam you can read our articles, where my friend recommends you the Best Hotels in the Red Light District , the best Hotels for Couples or the best Hotels for Groups.