Hunting in the Netherlands

Information on hunting in the Netherlands: hunting restrictions, seasons, territories, guns and weapons and find out about game management units in Holland...

Hunting is permitted in the Netherlands and the number of people practising this hobby in the country represents about 0.2 percent of the population.

Hunting is managed by the Royal Association of Dutch Hunters (Koninklijke Nederlandse Jagers Vereniging KNJV) which has the responsibility for control and management of nature and wildlife.


Since the Game Act of 1977 a hunting examination is obligatory and a hunting licence is required. Courses begin in November and exams take place in April/May and in September. The licence must be renewed annually (about 30,000 licences are issued each year).

The body responsible for testing and issuing hunting licences is:

Getting a licence

In order to get a licence, the applicant must fulfil the following criteria:

  • Be at least 18 years old
  • Have an insurance voucher covering third party liability
  • Pass the hunting examination (hunting examinations passed in Germany, Belgium and Luxembourg are also valid in the Netherlands)
  • Be able to prove that they have an opportunity to hunt in the Netherlands

The licence can be revoked in case of bad conduct. If it has expired, then the right to hunt is automatically lost. The licence must be renewed every year by the Dutch police.

Licences for visitors

Foreign hunters who are resident have the right to get a Dutch hunting licence in the same way as any Dutch person.

EU and non-EU visitors wishing to hunt in the Netherlands can only do so by personal invitation. People who are personally invited to hunt by a Dutch citizen can apply for a specific hunting licence which is valid for six days. They can only use this licence if accompanied by a resident hunter who holds a normal hunting licence.

Residents of the European Union must hold a European Firearms Pass to bring weapons into Netherlands.

What and Where to Hunt

Since the Flora and Fauna Act of April 2002 the main hunting regulation has designated six species which can be considered as "game", one protected and five huntable. The huntable species are:

  • Hare
  • Mallard
  • Pheasant
  • Pigeon
  • Rabbit

According to this legislation, a distinction is made between hunting (of the five species above), management, and crop damage control (for the last two, specific licences issued by the Province apply).

Methods such as trapping and netting are forbidden, apart from live-trapping of crows, or with the use of reared decoys and cages. Registered duck decoys are allowed to catch mallard during the open season.

There are no areas where hunting is freely allowed to everyone in the Netherlands and commercial hunting is prohibited. Hunting grounds must consist of an area of 40 hectares minimum, be at least 300 metres wide and it must be possible to describe a circle with a minimum radius of 150 metres within that area.

The landowner owns the hunting rights and may let-out these rights for a period of six to twelve years. In territorial waters and on state land the hunting rights also belong to the owner, in this case the Ministry of Finance or Ministry of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality and they may let out the rights (lease).

Hunting Season

The hunting season is the same across the country, in all regions.

Shooting is forbidden on New Year's Day, Easter, Whit Monday, Christmas, Boxing Day and Ascension Day; shooting is also forbidden on Sundays.

Hunting Season Game
15 October-31 December Hare, Female pheasant
15 October-31 January Male pheasant, Wood pigeon
15 August-31 January Mallard, Rabbit

Guns and Weapons

Owning a gun without a permit is not allowed in the Netherlands, and the gun permit is incorporated in the hunting licence.

There are some restrictions on the types of ammunition and weapon that may be used.

The following are forbidden:

  • Leadshot
  • Weapons with silencers or artificial lights
  • Automatic or semi-automatic guns with more than two cartridges
  • Air rifles
  • Military ammunition and bullets which do not deform on impact

Further Information