AMSTERDAM – New regulations for guided tours in 2020

By sborisov/

After the increase of the tourist tax for all visitors staying in the city of Amsterdam, the Municipality has now confirmed new regulations for the guided tours within the city centre.

Already in April 2018, Amsterdam introduced specific rules for groups guided tours within the De Wallen area and the city centre, including Red Light District and Dam Square. The main reason was to keep the city liveable for residents, business owners and other visitors.

Some more tight regulations will be introduced in January 2020, with more changes following in April. Please find below a quick recap on how this will affect tours operation.

1. Introduction of Entertainment tax on guided tours from January 2020

In November 2019 it was announced that the Entertainment Tax (VMR) will increase to €1,50 per visitor and that from the 1st of January it will apply also to guided walking, bike & Segway tours.

2. Guiding regulations up until 31st March 2020:

Tour guides would need a permit to lead groups within the restricted areas. The rules apply to any tour guides or leaders either guiding or escorting groups of more than four people through the area.

The annual permit fee is €165.40, and will be valid until 31 March 2020. Guides will not need to be certified guides or a Citizen Service Number (BSN) to apply.  The permit is personal and only valid for the individual guide.

Before applying for it, the guide will need to provide details about the frequency of tours, the size of groups and the company name the guide is working for.

Please be aware that the guided tours are also subject to some limitations:

  • The groups cannot be larger than 20 people
  • The tours must be finished by 19.00 at the latest
  • The groups are not allowed to stand still at busy locations like canal bridges or store entrances during opening hours
  • Taking photos of sex workers is prohibited, and guides must make sure that groups stand with their backs to the sex workers.
  • Loudspeakers or megaphones are not allowed.
  • Alcohol and drugs are prohibited during the tours.
  • Before the tour, guides must instruct the groups to show respect for local residents, businesses and sex workers.

In case of violation of any of these rules, a fee of €190 would apply for free lance guides and €950 if the guide is working for a travel company. The permit would be revoked after 3 violations.

3. Proposed new regulations from 1st April 2020:

Amsterdam Council announced a new proposal for a more restrictive regulation on guided tours, including a ban on walking tours in the Red Light District.

The proposal will be discussed by the relevant authorities in March 2020 and it is expected to be introduced from April 2020.

Main proposed changes to be implemented are:

  • All guided tours with more than four participants are banned in front of sex workers’ windows
  • Guiding within the entire area of the city centre is only allowed with a valid permit
  • The permit fee will increase to €200 from 1 April 2020 and will be valid until March 2022
  • Guided groups cannot be larger than 15 pax (currently 20 pax)
  • Tours are allowed between the hours of 09:00 and 22:00 (current regulation bans tours after 19:00)

We are constantly in contact with our partners in Amsterdam and will post updates as soon as they are available.




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