Pharmacies and drugstores

Where to buy your medicine

Pharmacies and drugstores

In the Netherlands there are 2 types of pharmacies; the apotheek (pharmacy) and the drogist (drugstore).

A drogist such as Kruidvat or Etos sells non-prescriptive medications, toiletries, cosmetics and baby essentials. They can also advise you on medications and minor ailments such as colds and flu.

For strong medication, which is only available with a prescription, you must go to the apotheek (pharmacy). Pharmacies also sell over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, skin care and will provide advice on taking medication.

Generally speaking, most prescribed medication will be covered by your health insurance. If you don’t have a Dutch health insurance, but if you do have the European Health Insurance Card, the pharmacy will declare the costs of your medication directly with your insurance. If you don’t have the card, you have to pay at the counter and forward the bill to your insurance provider yourself. We advise you to ask your GP, pharmacy, or insurance company beforehand if the medicine will be refunded.


If you’re staying in the Netherlands for a longer period of time, it’s advisable to register at a pharmacy. You can do this by bringing your ID and giving them your contact details and insurance information and it’s free of charge. There are certain benefits to registering at a pharmacy:

  • Your GP may be able to email your prescription directly to the pharmacy and you can pick up your medicine immediately.
  • As they have a record of your prescription history, it gives the pharmacist the ability to check that you haven’t been prescribed conflicting medication.
  • Many GP practices offer a service where you can organise a repeat prescription,which you can collect from your pharmacy the next day.

Opening hours

Opening hours for pharmacies vary. It’s more likely to find a pharmacy that’s open 24 hours in the bigger cities. To find the closest out-of-hours pharmacy you can go to this website.  (in Dutch). All you need to do is enter your town or postal code in the box to find your nearest pharmacy.

For the latest news on healthcare in the Netherlands, visit our website on expatriate healthcare:  .  

Further reading

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