New laws in 2014

In January 2014, the govern-ment of the Netherlands introduced a number of new laws. We help you decode the official jargon, to understand which of those will impact your life.

The legal age for the purchase and consumption of alcohol has gone up from 16 to 18 years. While you may rejoice in being over the age limit, make sure you always have your ID card on you, because you may well get carded. “When the age limit was 16, we asked our employees to screen for people who looked below 18. You have to gauge a bit higher to be cautious. Now we will gauge for 21, and if someone seems younger, we will ask for IDs. Our only request is that people who are asked for cards should not take it as an offense but understand that it’s the law,” says Helmer Dil, owner of Trappistenlokaal ’t Klooster, a pub in the city centre. It’s important to note that if a bar is found to have served alcohol to someone underage, it’s no longer just the bar that gets fined. Both parties do.

Duties on wine, beer, sherry and port have also gone up by 5.75%. Dil assures us that customers are not likely to feel the pinch. “At the beginning of the year, big alcohol companies always increase their prices anyway. When it comes to beer, the increase varies as per a number of factors such as the alcohol content. We try to spread out the increase over a number of different beers, so that it is barely 10 cents a glass, that too on certain brands only,” he explains. In other bad news, traffic fines have also increased and the fine for jumping a red light is now €230.

The own-risk element of health insurance has gone up by €10 to €360. “There is no change in the Student Insurance plan. But, for PhD employees and any student who has shifted to Basic Insurance, the monthly payments will actually decrease by a few euros a month,” explains Ton Dubbelt, Insurance Advisor for Sucsez.

While PostNL will no longer deliver post on Mondays, TU Delft’s Central Post Office will remain functional. The rule applies only to post mailed to street addresses, so, if you’re expecting an important package addressed to the university’s PO Box, you’re sure to get it.  

As the year progresses, there are several issues internationals should keep an eye on. “One big issue for internationals in the Netherlands as a whole will be the government’s plans to introduce a voluntary participation statement in which they pledge to uphold Dutch norms and values. Several towns and cities are to experiment with the idea, but not Delft, and international students will not be asked to sign it. But we will be keeping a close eye on developments this year,” says Robin Pasco, editor-in-chief of English language news website

She adds that internationals will also be able to exercise their right to vote in the local elections in March, if they have lived here for at least five years. “The government is planning to increase the residency requirement to seven years.”

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