Either to be able to find a place, to send a letter, a parcel or to give your address to another person, it is important to make sure you know how the format in each country is. Otherwise, it is harder to identify the location and it can bring to confusion. In the Netherlands, there is a very standardise address format that you will easily recognise.
On a letter or when you are given an address, you will see:
- First line: name of the person or institution
- Second line: the street name, house or building name and any extra building information.
- Third line: Postcode, normally 4 numbers and two letters
- Fourth Line: City and Country
Dutch people are rather perfectionist and they like to find the best way of doing what they do. In this case, the addresses are very precise, descriptive and practical. With only the postcode, since it is so extremely precise, you will be able to find an address without knowing the house building, name of the street or anything else.
Dutch Address Format
As simple as writing an address may seem, there is a science, a protocol and some rules to follow. It is not aleatory and each letter or number we add has a specific meaning and gives information.
Like most address formats, the Dutch one has four main parts. Here are the description and rules of what type of information each of these parts must contain.
First Line: Name of the Person or Institution
As silly and logical as this part is, it is rather important to write the name of the person or institution the letter or parcel is addressed to. There are two different cases when it is and when it is not important to write the name:
- You must write the name: you must do it when the person shares an address with other people. In the Netherlands, it is rather common to share a house or flat, no matter how old you are and even if you are not a student and you are already working. It is very common in both small and bigger cities and it is very important to address the post to the person it is for.
- You don’t have to worry so much about the name: when you are looking for an address, when you are searching for a place in Google or when it is an institution. You have enough information for the post to reach the recipient with the postcode.
Moreover, another important aspect we have to take into account is how to address the person because a letter or parcel received by post it is always considered a formal text. In this case, the Dutch formulas are:
- Address a letter or parcel as Heer (for men, meaning Sir) and Mevrouw (meaning Ms. and Mrs.). This can be followed by both surname or name and surname.
- Address it directly with the name and surname of the person
- Address it with the name of the company or institution
- Add here any other information you may know about the person’s title: Dhr, etc.
Second line: Street Name, House or Building Name
The second line is the actual line when you start writing the address of the person and you should start by the street name and the number, adding after this any extra information about the specific flat or extra indications.
Here there is a list of rules and tips you may want to follow when writing the street name and address:
- Street name and all the information of the second line can have a maximum of 43 characters in mixed case ( e.g. Van Koetsveldstraat 25)
- If you get a formal letter from the post office or another official institution it will be a letter with a street address with a maximum of 17 letters (ONLY UPPER CASES)
- Houseboats: if they don’t have their own house number (which most of the times they do) we should write AB (aan boord = on board) and the name of the boat. Another option is writing t/o, (opposite), and the number of the building opposite to the boat.
- You can also skip this part and only write the word ‘Postbus’ with a post office box number if an option.
- If you see the letters WW replacing the house number, it means we are talking about a caravan (Woonwagen)
- Floor: HS for the ground floor, II for the second floor, III for third floor and so on, following the house number. (e.g. Ottostraat 12-Ia)
- Back or Front: a or v after the floor number.
These are the basic tips and information one needs to know both to write and interpret a letter in the whole country. If you have more doubts about you want to know how to be able to abbreviation more information, I recommend you check Global Sourcebook.
Third line: Postcode
There is nothing more important about a letter than the postcode. Moreover, in the case of the Netherlands, the postcode is one of the most precise ones, indicating even the building we are referring to in the same postcode.
Each of the regions inside each of the provinces of the Netherlands has its own code, which is half of the postcode: two numbers.
Each postcode has 4 numbers and two letters, the first two numbers give you information about the province and specific region we are referring to, the second two numbers give you information about the specific location of the place, and the two letters gives you information about the specific street and house number we are talking about.
1071 XX: 10 for Amsterdam, 71 for Museumplein Area and XX to indicate we are talking about a specific street and place, Museumstraat, specifically, the Rijksmuseum address.
Fourth Line: City and Country
This fourth line you can either join it with the third one if it is a short one or make it on its own. It is the place where you should write the city and country, in this case, the Netherlands. Here there is a list of things you should consider for this part of the address:
- You can write the town and there is no need to write the province, with the postcode there is more than enough information. However, if you want to, you may.
- Provinces can be abbreviated (UT for Province of Utrecht, NH for North Holland, etc) but town and city names may NOT.
- You can add a country like The Netherlands or abbreviate it as NL, always capitals.
- It can be written with small cases, capital or mixed.
Full Example: Address Format
Mw. Micaela Zaslabsky
Van Koetsveldstraat 25
3532 ES Utrecht (NL)
I am indicting my name on the first line and they know I am a female person (Mw). The second line for the street indicates only a number, which means there are no more floors on the building and that is my personal address. The third line indicates the postcode, province of Utrecht, neighbourhood X, street ES, in the Netherlands. Plus, only three lines are used because there is enough space.
This is not my exact address, just in case someone wonders! But it works as a great example to know the basic information one should include in a letter.
Extra Information to Consider
- The word Mevrow can be abbreviated as Mw. and Heer as Hr.
- If you are wondering how to abbreviate another type of information such another title, a type of building or piece of information to help people or the postman to find your address, check here.
- If you have to write the special Dutch letter IJ, you write it I + J.
- Names composed by prepositions have to include the prepositions too.
Something also very curious you will be able to see on the streets, in the signs indicating the street and what numbers are included there is an arrow indicating if it is the beginning of the end of the street and the letters T/M. This means “from X until X, including the first and the last one“. It is a very specificating expression that I admire because we don’t have it in Spanish or English and it is precise. It is useful to know its meaning for other things such as knowing when a shop is opening or if there is a list of things you need to understand if the last item is included or excluded.
If you don’t really know your postcode, it is as easy as knowing your street and house number, and check it in Postnl.
On the other hand, if you know a postcode but you don’t know the address exactly, number and street, you just write it here and you will have the full information: here.
If you are wondering how to send a post in the Netherlands and you need to know more than how to write the address correctly, here is what you should read: How to Send a Mail in the Netherlands.