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Netherlands – Prescriptions and Medications

If you are planning to visit the Netherlands and you require medication, it is important to be aware of the local practices when it comes to prescriptions and medications. In this article, we will cover the following questions related to prescriptions and medications in the Netherlands:

  • What are pharmacies called in the local language in the Netherlands? What does the sign outside pharmacies look like in the Netherlands?
  • What are pharmacy opening times in the Netherlands?
  • Can common medicines be bought over the counter or do they require a prescription in the Netherlands? Can medicines be ordered online?
  • How are prescriptions paid for in the Netherlands?

Pharmacies in the Netherlands

In the Netherlands, pharmacies are called “Apotheek” in Dutch, the local language. The sign outside pharmacies is usually a green cross on a white background, similar to the international symbol for first aid. This sign is recognized globally as the symbol for a pharmacy, making it easy for foreigners to identify a pharmacy in the Netherlands.

Pharmacy Opening Times

Pharmacies in the Netherlands have different opening times depending on the day of the week. Most pharmacies are open from Monday to Friday between 8:30 a.m. and 6 p.m. On Saturdays, pharmacies usually close earlier, around 5 p.m. Some pharmacies may also open on Sundays, but their opening hours are usually limited.

It is important to note that some pharmacies may close for a lunch break between 1 p.m. and 2 p.m. on weekdays. In addition, there are some pharmacies that operate 24/7, especially in big cities such as Amsterdam, Rotterdam, and The Hague. If you require medication outside of regular pharmacy hours, it is advisable to check the location of a 24/7 pharmacy.

Medications in the Netherlands

In the Netherlands, some medications can be bought over the counter without a prescription, while others require a prescription from a doctor. Common medications such as painkillers, cough syrup, and allergy medication can be bought over the counter in most pharmacies. However, medications that are considered to be more potent or that have a higher risk of abuse, such as sleeping pills or strong painkillers, require a prescription.

It is important to note that the rules regarding over-the-counter medication in the Netherlands may differ from those in your home country. Therefore, it is always advisable to check with a pharmacist before purchasing any medication, especially if you are unsure about the dosage or potential side effects.


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In addition, it is also possible to order medications online in the Netherlands. There are several online pharmacies that offer home delivery of medication, but it is important to be cautious when ordering medication online. Always ensure that the online pharmacy is legitimate and that the medication you are ordering is safe and legal.

Prescription Medications

If you require a prescription medication in the Netherlands, you will need to visit a doctor who will write you a prescription. Once you have the prescription, you can take it to a pharmacy to have it filled. It is important to note that prescriptions in the Netherlands are usually valid for a limited period of time, usually three months. After this time, you will need to visit a doctor again to get a new prescription.

When you go to a pharmacy to have a prescription filled, you will need to provide your health insurance details. If you are a resident of the Netherlands and have Dutch health insurance, you will usually only need to pay a small co-payment for prescription medication. The amount of the co-payment will depend on the medication and your health insurance policy.

If you are a tourist or visitor to the Netherlands and do not have Dutch health insurance, you will need to pay the full cost of the medication. It is advisable to check with the pharmacy beforehand to get an idea of the cost of the medication, as prescription medications in the Netherlands can be quite expensive.

Payment for Prescriptions

As mentioned earlier, if you are a resident of the Netherlands and have Dutch health insurance, you will usually only need to pay a small co-payment for prescription medication. The amount of the co-payment will depend on the medication and your health insurance policy. However, if you are a tourist or visitor to the Netherlands and do not have Dutch health insurance, you will need to pay the full cost of the medication.

It is important to note that the cost of prescription medication in the Netherlands can vary widely depending on the type of medication, the dosage, and the manufacturer. In addition, the cost of medication can also be influenced by factors such as the availability of generic alternatives, which tend to be cheaper than brand-name medications.

If you are a resident of the Netherlands and require regular prescription medication, it is advisable to consider taking out additional health insurance to cover the cost of medication. This is particularly important if you require medication that is expensive or that needs to be taken over a long period of time.

In conclusion, if you require medication while in the Netherlands, it is important to be aware of the local practices when it comes to prescriptions and medications. Pharmacies in the Netherlands are called “Apotheek” and are easily recognizable by the green cross sign outside. Pharmacy opening times vary, but most pharmacies are open from Monday to Friday between 8:30 a.m. and 6 p.m. and on Saturdays until around 5 p.m.

In the Netherlands, some medications can be bought over the counter without a prescription, while others require a prescription from a doctor. Prescription medications require a prescription from a doctor and are usually valid for three months. When filling a prescription, you will need to provide your health insurance details, and if you are a tourist or visitor to the Netherlands without Dutch health insurance, you will need to pay the full cost of the medication.

Finally, if you require regular prescription medication and are a resident of the Netherlands, it is advisable to consider taking out additional health insurance to cover the cost of medication.


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Starting in 2024, residents in Germany will see a slight increase in their health insurance costs, with a 0.1% rise to a maximum of 1.7%. This adjustment aims to expand coverage for medical care not currently included in statutory health insurance, such as select dental treatments, IVF, and early cancer screenings.

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Trieste launches an initiative for free health screenings, including echocardiograms and blood tests, focusing on preventive care against non-communicable diseases. This move underscores the city's commitment to improving public health through early detection and prevention.

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Madrid introduces a groundbreaking app offering reliable health advice to counteract the widespread misinformation online. This app, part of the 'Madrid Te Cuida' initiative, will guide users to accurate information, from diet tips to medical queries, ensuring the advice is vetted by health professionals.

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