The easy guide to owning a pet in the Netherlands

by Genie Ijzersmid
3 min read
Illustration of a happy dog waiting for the owner

Adapting to a new environment may be easier especially for kids if you decide to have a pet. Every second family in the Netherlands has at least one pet at home. Pet ownership however is strictly regulated by law. Pets, after all, bring responsibilities along with joy and love.

What kinds of pets are allowed

Dogs, cats and rodents are the most popular Dutch pets. But you may choose to keep a more original pet. Well, as long as it is on the official list. The Ministry of Economic Affairs introduced a list of mammals suitable as pets and is also working on the list of permitted reptiles and other species.

If you are thinking of getting an exotic pet, it is better to consult the Netherlands Enterprise Agency to see whether your choice is legal. Such restrictions are explained by the fact that some wild animals may suffer when kept as pets or be dangerous for people.

Where to get a pet

Adopting a rescue animal is getting more and more popular in the Netherlands. First, it is a nice lesson for children that would show them how love may change the life of an abandoned animal. Secondly, adoption will allow you to save some money.

Kennels in the Netherlands are called dierenasiel – just google the closest to you and have a chat with its staff. Be ready for questions about the living conditions for a future pet. Every pet in the Netherlands has a right to a decent life.

Another option is buying a pet either at a shop (by the way, it’s illegal to display animals in the shop windows, so come in!) or from private breeders online. Be careful with private sellers and check all the documentation.

European Pet Passport

Now, when you have bought a pet, take care of all the documents. First, each animal must have a passport. Make sure you are getting a European Pet Passport, if you want to travel with your pet within the EU. A microchip may also be needed. A passport may be issued at any Veterinary Service. The pet’s name and all the vaccinations are indicated in the passport. Your vet will consult you about the vaccinations needed.

Make sure you are regularly consulting with your vet regarding the health issues of your pet. And keep in mind that the veterinary service is not cheap in the Netherlands – the prices vary, but a consultation at a vet may cost you up to a hundred euros.


Dog owners may be subjected to paying a dog tax in the Netherlands. After you register your dog with the municipality and Dutch Tax Administration, you will be informed whether you have to pay the dog tax. The taxation depends on the municipality. 147 municipalities are free from dog taxes, but over 200 Dutch municipalities still have dog tax. The tax fee varies: for instance, in Groningen it is 120 euros per year, in Utrecht – about 75. By contrast, Amsterdam or Leiden do not charge dog tax.

Getting a pet may seem a daunting task, but in the end it is all worth it.