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Can a Felon Travel to Amsterdam?

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In the past, you may have traveled to many locations. Since your return from prison, you might think about going to a faraway place like Amsterdam. The question is whether or not a felon can travel to Amsterdam.

Let’s look at this issue.

In this blog post, we’ll cover the following:

  • Travel Restrictions
  • Why Amsterdam?
  • Getting a Passport
  • Is a Visa Required?
  • Requirements to Enter the Netherlands
  • Traveling to Amsterdam
  • Steps to Take


Travel Restrictions

Think your probation officer will let you travel? Probably not. For an emergency maybe, but not otherwise. Not even local travel. 

While on probation, you can’t leave your district without your probation officer’s consent. The probation officer wants to keep a close eye on you at all times.

After you finish probation, you might be able to travel and go beyond the U.S. border.

Let’s see exactly what’s involved in taking a trip to Amsterdam.

Why Amsterdam?

Why would a felon want to visit Amsterdam? The same reasons apply to you like someone who doesn’t have a criminal record. You have the same interests as any other U.S. citizen.

Traveling to Amsterdam is no different. 

Amsterdam is the geographical capital of the Netherlands. The site of the government is in The Hague in the Southern Netherlands.

Amsterdam is the center of culture and trade in the Netherlands. The Netherlands is in Western Europe, bordering the North Sea to the north and west and Germany and Belgium to the east and south. It’s a country where almost everyone speaks English. When you hear of the Netherlands, you might think about it as Holland, but North and South Holland are actually two of the provinces in the Netherlands.    

Visiting Amsterdam invites travelers to walk and bike the city and boat its canals.  

Amsterdam has a large marketplace along with Dutch history and art museums, including the Van Gogh Museum.

As a felon, your family history may go back to the Netherlands.

Getting a Passport

So how about the process of getting a passport? The law states that you must have a passport to travel overseas. 

A passport doesn’t have to be difficult to obtain. It identifies you as a U.S. citizen and allows you to travel internationally. A passport isn’t permission to leave the country. It’s an identification like a driver’s license is. 

To answer the question, you can get a passport, though there are some restrictions placed on felons. One obstacle could be having a felony drug trafficking conviction on your record. 

Smuggling drugs into or out of the country isn’t the best thing to get the federal government to grant you a passport because you could use it to escape from the country.

A misdemeanor drug conviction could be an issue in qualifying for a passport while an outstanding warrant could also be a problem.

Other issues in obtaining a passport are outstanding child support or another form of financial debt to the government. The courts wouldn’t let you leave the country if you had these debts to pay.

The passport process begins with proof of your citizenship like your birth certificate showing your full name, city and state of birth along with your parents’ names as part of the steps to getting a passport.

Then you must complete Form DS-11 to apply for a passport, which can take several weeks to process. 

This is because the government is likely searching a national database to ensure you don’t have any of the previously mentioned criminal and other legal factors.

If you are successful with all of this, you will have a passport to travel abroad.

Is a Visa Required?

While a passport allows you to leave the country, a visa is a document that allows you to enter a particular country. 

Typically, you obtain it from the country you want to visit.

Each country sets standards for who can cross their border. Some countries require a visa, and some don’t. 

For many countries, depending on why you want to visit and how long you want to stay, a visa may be required. Typically, you can get a visa application from the embassy or website of the country you plan to visit.

If you’re in a hurry to get your visa or want someone to walk you through the process, I recommend you use this website to help.

It’s important to note that a visa application usually doesn’t have any questions about your criminal record. Most countries don’t inquire.

So, this part may be relatively simple. Let’s look at the Netherlands’ entry requirements.

Requirements to Enter the Netherlands

Let’s look at what it takes to enter the Netherlands.

The Netherlands is a member of the Schengen Agreement, which was enacted in 1985.

The Schengen territory consists of 26 European nations, which cooperate with one another in having a unified external border.

When you enter the Schengen area, you must present your passport to get an entry stamp. Then, immigration officials will decide if you are qualified to enter the area. 

As a U.S. citizen, if you have been inside the Schengen area for less than three months, you may enter without a visa. All U.S. tourists allowed to enter, including felons, may travel freely from one Schengen area country to another without having to show their passport.

You don’t have to present your passport to be stamped again until you leave the Schengen area.

If you have a valid passport, you may enter the Netherlands for up to 90 days for personal or business reasons without a visa. You may travel into any of the 26 countries that participate in the Schengen Agreement.

In particular, the law in the Netherlands states that you must have at least six valid months remaining on your passport when you enter the country.  

Since the Netherlands is part of the Schengen Agreement, you can stay in the country up to 90 days. Any U.S. citizen who stays more than 90 days will need a visa, which must be obtained prior to departing from the U.S. You must have a specific plan, one that will not require you to be in the Netherlands more than 90 days.

That way you won’t have to worry about having your criminal record checked, and you can visit the Netherlands and Amsterdam.

Traveling to Amsterdam

You have dealt with the passport and visa requirements, so let’s look at the travel options to get there. You would have to either fly or go on a cruise.

First, flying to the Netherlands shouldn’t be a problem for you as a felon unless your name is on the no-fly list maintained by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) of suspected terrorists.  

With a few thousand names on this list, you’re probably good to fly.

You could also take a cruise, which is another method of traveling to the Netherlands. As long as you have a valid passport, you should be all right to travel on a cruise ship.

While you may have a valid passport, if you incurred an outstanding felony warrant since you got your passport, the trip will be off.

You can’t leave the country with outstanding charges as this would be considered fleeing the country and would create you major problems.

Of course there must be no restrictions on U.S. citizens in traveling in general, meaning the travel policy for the country you intend to visit must not restrict travel into the country from the U.S.

Steps to Take

If all that worked, you could be off to Amsterdam. However, be careful in going to Amsterdam. Just going to a foreign city will draw attention to yourself.

Be on guard and obey all laws while you are there. As a U.S. citizen, you will stand out as different from the general population.

Be prepared to be observed while you are there. If there is any trouble, contact an attorney for assistance. You don’t want to get involved with the legal system in Amsterdam. Not a good plan.

Travel safely and come back to the U.S. You’ll be glad you did. Being able to travel to Amsterdam is another step to living an honest life.

You’ve made many mistakes, but you don’t have to be defined by them. You are defined by how you recover from those mistakes.

So what do you think about this blog post about how a felon can travel to Amsterdam? Have you or someone you know wanted to travel to Amsterdam with a felony? What was that like and what happened? Please tell us in the comments below.

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