Whine Wednesday: Crazy, Badly Communicated Covid Testing Requirements For Netherlands-bound Passengers

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Our Whine Wednesday topic this week is about the highly restrictive Covid testing regime the Netherlands have implemented to flights to/from and via their country.

This especially affects passengers who have booked flights through the busy KLM hub of Amsterdam-Schiphol where non-EU/non-Schengen passengers now have to carry a negative rapid test taken within 4 hours before boarding.

Such regulations that are not properly communicated make it almost impossible for people to catch their intercontinental flights especially when having connecting feeder flights unless the airline sets up their own testing site.

One of these cases was communicated to us by a reader who is currently on a 6-week company assignment in the midwestern U.S. and who is no scrambling as to how he can take his return flight.

According to the regulation buried deep in the Q&A of KLM’s website are regulations that came into effect on January 23, 2021:

Negative tests mandatory for passengers departing from high-risk areas

All passengers departing from high-risk areas that are flying to or via the Netherlands must be able to show negative COVID-19 test results and test declarations. Depending on your location of departure, please read below what applies to you.

You may be requested to show the needed documents to airport staff or the designated (medical) authorities, such as the Royal Netherlands Marechaussee. If you cannot show these documents, you may be denied entry into the Netherlands.

Additionally, you are strongly advised to self-quarantine for a period of 10 days. Keep in mind that the advice remains to only travel when it is essential.

For more information about travelling to the Netherlands, check the website of the Dutch authorities .

Travelling from the EU or Schengen area to or via the Netherlands

You need to have:

  • a recent negative PCR test result. This PCR test must be carried out no more than 72 hours before arrival. You can bring digital proof.*
  • a recent negative rapid test result of one of the following rapid tests: antigen test, RT-LAMP test, molecular test, NAAT test, TMA test, or ID NOW test. This test must be taken within 4 hours before boarding. You can bring digital proof.

Travelling from outside the EU or Schengen area to or via the Netherlands

You need to have:

  • a recent negative PCR test result. This PCR test must be carried out no more than 72 hours before arrival. You can bring digital proof.*
  • a recent negative rapid test result of one of the following rapid tests: antigen test, RT-LAMP test, molecular test, NAAT test, TMA test, or ID NOW test. This test must be taken within 4 hours before boarding. You can bring digital proof.
  • a signed and printed negative test declaration form. You have to show a paper copy before departure to the airline staff or to the Royal Military and Border Police (Koninklijke Marechaussee).

Download the negative test declaration form via the website of the Dutch authorities 

This also applies to passengers with a Dutch nationality, and passengers arriving at an airport in The Netherlands and continuing their trip without leaving the airport.

*Your PCR test result should be in English, German, French, Spanish or Dutch. Make sure your COVID-19 PCR test document includes the following:

  • Type of test: this must be a molecular PCR test and must be for SARS-CoV-2/COVID-19.
  • Your test result: the test result must be negative.
  • Your first and last name, as stated in your passport.
  • Date and time the test was conducted: this must have been no more than 72 hours before arrival in The Netherlands.
  • Name and contact information of the institute or laboratory that conducted the test.

When is it not necessary to show a PCR test result?

View a full list of all exceptions on the website of the Dutch authorities 

Make sure to check KLM TravelDoc shortly before departure for all measures that apply to your trip. Enter your entire route if your trip includes transfers. Need to show a negative COVID-19 test result before boarding? The Dutch authorities and SkyTeam have created an overview of rapid and PCR test locations near the airport.

When the reader sent this to us I was wondering if KLM missed something here and it’s either or when it comes to the different test but after following the link to the government site I discovered they indeed require both.

If you are travelling to the Netherlands from a high-risk country you must present a negative PCR test result and a negative rapid test result. This is because there is a risk that travellers arriving from high-risk areas will import and spread coronavirus variants. The mandatory test results are not a substitute for other coronavirus measures, such as the entry ban, self-quarantining and vaccination.

Currently the only non-Schengen countries deemed safe by the authorities are:

  • Australia
  • New Zealand
  • Rwanda
  • Singapore
  • South Korea
  • Thailand
  • China (mainland China, Hong Kong, Macau). Only if China lifts entry restrictions on European travellers. Travellers from China are not required to present a negative COVID-19 test declaration.

This begs the question of how someone who has a flight itinerary like lets say Kansas City – Minneapolis – Amsterdam – Munich like in this case is supposed to provide a rapid test taken within 4 hours prior to boarding the Amsterdam bound flight?

This requirement makes it pretty much mandatory that a test facility is readily available at the transit / departure points and that it has enough capacity to handle the specimens of hundreds, if not thousands of passengers.

Minneapolis St. Paul has indeed a Covid-19 testing site. The only downside? It takes a few days to get the result.

Delta Air Lines has now reacted to this and provides these rapid test for Covid-19 in the gate area of Atlanta and Detroit International Airport.

Customers traveling to or connecting through the Netherlands must take a rapid antigen or molecular test within 4 hours of departure and must provide proof of a negative PCR or LAMP test taken within 72 hours of arrival.  All customers must have a completed and printed negative test declaration form, opens in a new window to present prior to boarding. In Atlanta and Detroit airports, we have onsite rapid testing to help satisfy the 4 hour pre-departure test requirement. For customers purchasing Delta’s COVID-Tested flight option from Atlanta to Amsterdam, requirements vary, so we recommend reviewing the testing protocols to board this flight and to be exempt from quarantine upon arrival in the Netherlands.

  • Atlanta Airport Rapid Testing Location: Near gate E14, please arrive early to the airport to participate, customers should proceed directly to the testing facility if connecting in Atlanta
  • Detroit Airport Rapid Testing Location: Concourse A at gate A43, please arrive early to the airport to participate, customers should proceed directly to the testing facility if connecting in Detroit

There is no information if this test is provided free of charge or if there is a fee attached.

According to an article in the Star Tribune Delta has also installed such a facility at Minneapolis exclusively for the AMS bound flight.

Passengers flying nonstop from Minneapolis-St. Paul to Amsterdam on Delta Air Lines can now get a rapid COVID-19 test result at the airport within hours of their flight.

On Thursday, the airline resumed flying from Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport (MSP) to Amsterdam-Schiphol Airport (AMS) after the Dutch government tightened restrictions on inbound travel in January.

To accommodate the Netherlands’ requirement that all travelers get a negative COVID-19 test result within four hours of a departing flight, Delta has set up its own rapid virus-testing site at MSP. For now, the site will be available exclusively to passengers on Delta’s flights to Amsterdam.

The Metropolitan Airports Commission, which operates the airport, is in the midst of a selecting a vendor that can conduct rapid tests to anyone departing from MSP, regardless of airline, said airport spokesman Patrick Hogan. They hope it is up and running within a month. …

The Delta website doesn’t show any of this information confirming the availability of rapid testing at MSP.

In any case passengers better come with a sufficient amount of transit time and the hope to not have any delays on top of a negative test result or they won’t be flying anywhere that day. What a mess!

These vital pieces of information should be prominently displayed on the airlines website but they aren’t. Instead you find this buried in some FAQ and no details about the on site rapid testing at all. Airlines need to do a much better job informing passengers. I have to compliment Delta here for taking the initiative but the information policy is just horrible.

Conclusion

The Netherlands 4-hour inbound rapid test requirement is making flights to/via Amsterdam a logistical nightmare and airlines are now scrambling to set up their own rapid testing sites at the airports, specifically for flights to Amsterdam.

Under these circumstances I can only recommend to revisit the current travel information in detail when you have a trip coming up. In the case of Amsterdam being simply a transit point it might be worthwhile to contact the airline of your travel agent and ask if a rebooking to more direct or alternate routing is possible that circumvents the Netherlands.

If the NL are your final destination or you can’t rebook make sure your itinerary has a generous time buffer at your departure/transit point in order to complete the rapid test. Sometimes airlines sell connections with a very minimal connection time based on the published MCT for the airport in question. That will not be enough these days!

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