Use of berths in the port of Amsterdam

From 07 Mar 2017
Area Municipality - Amsterdam

The Harbour Master of Amsterdam, who is also the Director of the Central Nautical Management North Sea Canal Area, announces the following:

In connection with a proper organisation and efficient use, the quays in the port of Amsterdam are solely intended as berths for active commercial and passenger ships that serve port activities. It has been noted, however, that not all ships make use of these berths in the correct way. As a consequence thereof, other ships are forced to look for berths elsewhere. Port of Amsterdam has therefore decided that, in a targeted manner, the correct use of berths will be enforced under criminal law.

The correct use of berths means, among other things, the use of berths or quays by the following ships: ships carrying cargo or passengers, ships using quays for a short period of time for the purpose of waiting for cargo, embarkation or disembarkation of passengers, bunkering, or for compliance with the legally required sailing hours and rest periods. A mooring permit issued by the Harbour master will not be necessary if the activities are limited to the activities as mentioned above.  

If, in relation to a permitted waterbound activity, a vessel wishes to use a quay or jetty in the port of Amsterdam for a duration longer than 7 days, its skipper or owner has to apply for a mooring permit for commercial ships with the Harbour Master.

This has been regulated in the following local Bye-laws: article 3.2 of the Regional Port Bye-laws for the North Sea Canal Area 2012; and article 2.4.1 of the Municipal Bye-law for the Inland Waterways 2010.

Use and waterbound activity

The use of a berth must be connected to a waterbound activity whether or not it concerns active commercial or passenger transport, or activities for which the skipper or owner has to apply for a mooring permit. A waterbound activity is an activity that can only take place on the water and not on the water as well as on land. The activities for which the ship is needed are the central issue and form the most important part of all activities carried out by the ship.

A river cruise during which the ship calls at Amsterdam for a short period of time and whereby the visit to and the stay in Amsterdam form part of the sailing trip or cruise is an example of such a waterbound activity. The sailing trip (waterbound) is the central issue: that is what it is all about. The berthing of these river cruise ships must be reported to the Harbour Master's Division of the Port of Amsterdam. A cruise ship must make a reservation for a quay or jetty with the Port of Amsterdam. Please note: making a reservation for a berth is not the same as being granted a mooring permit.

Non-waterbound activity

Activities that can function as such without needing the water and therefore can also be carried out on land are not waterbound. The sole fact that an activity has been adapted to the water does not make the activity itself waterbound. Package deals in which it is clear that the stay in Amsterdam is the central issue and whereby sailing is of secondary importance are not waterbound and therefore not permitted. An example of this is a package deal offering to “spend the night on the water”. Although this activity appears to be waterbound because it takes place on a ship, the activity itself - spending the night - can also take place on land.

Another example of a non-waterbound activity is performing a play with a waterbound theme on a ship, or using a ship as a workplace for theatre or other cultural activities.

Ships on which such activities are carried out keep berths occupied that are intended for other inland ships. As a consequence, these inland ships must proceed to find berths elsewhere, i.e. outside the city.


Non-waterbound activities are against the Regional Port Bye-laws for the North Sea Canal Area 2012 (prohibition to berth a ship), the zoning plan, and local regulations.

In order to put an end to these undesirable situations, the Harbour Master's Division and the urban districts have decided to enforce under criminal law.

Should you have any questions about this Announcement, please contact Mr Jaap Nab, Harbour Master's Division, at or +316 8364 6861.

This Announcement replaces Announcement No. CNB 44/2016.


The Harbour master, who is also the Director of the Central Nautical Management North Sea Canal Area,


M.F. van de Kerkhof