NYE fireworks in the Netherlands: rules and regulations

NYE fireworks in the Netherlands: rules and regulations

If you've spent "Oud en Nieuw" (New Year’s Eve) in the Netherlands, you will have realised by now that the Dutch are a nation of secret pyrotechnicians.

The national ban on purchasing and lighting fireworks is lifted for the just three days leading up to New Year’s Eve, and everybody goes fireworks-mad, to put it mildly. This year, because New Year's Eve is on a Sunday and shops will be closed, sales will start one day early.

Municipal firework restrictions in the Netherlands

The national firework frenzy with which the Dutch usher in the New Year may look like pure anarchy to outsiders, but a recent survey has clarified exactly what restrictions are in place - and where.

The fireworks tradition is overall a joyous one, making New Year’s Eve one of the most exciting nights of the year in the Netherlands, yet inevitably the use of fireworks has some negative consequences. Every year, news of injuries, accidents and damage caused by pyrotechnics gone wrong is reported in the days following NYE.

A study found that 20 out of 403 municipalities have enforced restrictions in place, banning the use of fireworks in specific areas. In general, fireworks are forbidden near shopping centres, nursing homes, animal shelters and historic buildings and monuments.

More municipalities have restrictions in place, but these are less clear-cut in terms of enforcement. Be sure to check what the specific rules are in your area.

Dutch police doubt enforceability of firework regulations

The Dutch Police Union NPB (Nederlandse Politiebond) and the Dutch Retail Council RND (Raad Nederlandse Detailhandel) have expressed doubts as to whether it is possible to enforce the restrictions on fireworks usage.

Some cities and municipalities, such as Hilversum, have resorted to hiring private security guards to ensure the rules of firework usage are observed. The NPB does not favour such an idea, insisting that if the government sets the ban it should enforce it too.

The Belangenvereniging Pyrotechniek Nederland (BPN) - the representative body for fireworks vendors - welcomes increased efforts to ensure maximum safety during the New Year’s celebration, and does not expect a fall in sales as a result of increased regulation.

In previous years it has been suggested that the window for buying fireworks should be reduced from three days to two. The BPN expressed relief that this idea has been abandoned, stressing that it will only increase traffic in illegal fireworks - with serious safety consequences.

Where and when to buy NYE fireworks in the Netherlands?

Fireworks can be purchased in the three days leading up to New Year’s Eve: December 29, 30 and 31. According to the rules, they can only be fired between 6pm on December 31 and 2am on January 1.

There are hundreds of fireworks vendors in the Netherlands over the three day period. Or alternatively, if the love of pyrotechnics hasn’t rubbed off on you yet, you can take in the National New Year's Fireworks display in Rotterdam.

Zoe Neilson


Zoe Neilson

Zoe Neilson is a freelance writer living and working in Amsterdam. She is from Edinburgh, but has also lived in Strasbourg, London, Sydney and Leeds, and has now been based...

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mawilbolou 10:05 | 31 December 2019

Well, the kids around where I live have been letting fireworks off since before Christmas Eve and continue to do so. They start at 9 in the morning and end when they end! They are letting them off in kids playgrounds where small children are playing. There seems to be no laws, no parents telling there children off for letting them off, no controls. No off limits places, no police enforcement. All in all, it's "Lekker belangrijk"