In Holland, it is custom to mention your name when you answer your phone. A mere "hallo" is considered somewhat impolite. Suppose your name is Hans Jansen. A common way to answer a call is: "Hallo met Hans". Using hoi instead of hallo is informal. In formal situations, you would say: "Goedemorgen/goedemiddag/goedenavond, u spreekt met Hans Jansen".
The Dutch Yellow pages are called the Gouden Gids. For the white pages, to look up private numbers, visit De Telefoongids.
Country and area codes
The country code of Holland is 31 and all area codes begin with 0. E.g. if you call to Amsterdam, you dial 020. If you call from a fixed phone to someone with the same area code, you do not have to dial the area code.
If you call from abroad, you have to skip 0 before the area code. If you make an international call from Holland, you have to dial 00 before the country code. Cell phone numbers always begin with 06.
All Dutch fixed and mobile phone numbers consist of ten digits.
Service numbers begin with 0900 or 0800. After you dialed the number, you are informed how much you will be charged per minute or per call.
The national emergency number is 112, the same as in all other EU member states. The number is free. Don't call this number to inform the police that your neighbours are making a lot of racket at two in the morning. The general police service number is 0800 4488. If necessary, the operator will put you through to you local police station.
Fixed phone lines
Most fixed phone subscription are offered in cheap packages together with internet and television.
The main providers of fixed phone lines are formerly state-owned KPN, (analogous and adsl), Telfort (adsl), Ziggo (cable), UPC (cable), and Tele2 (adsl).
For connecting you to the fixed phone network, they charge you a monthly fee between € 8 and € 16. Calling rates are cheaper than for mobile telephony.
Cheap international calling
As an experienced international caller, I found that you can make the easiest and cheapest international calls at Teledump.nl, Telestunt.nl, and Telediscount.nl. The system is very simple: You do not have to register, you just call a 0900 number (service number), where you are first informed how much you will pay per minute. Then, you are asked to dial the phone number you wish to call, followed by a hashmark. This is how the instruction goes in Dutch: "Typ het telefoonnummer in dat u wenst te bellen en sluit af met een hekje."
Each country has its own 0900 number. You pay the charges directly to your own (fixed) phone provider, just like you would do for any other calls to service numbers. Check the calling rates regulary because they often change.
Other cheap options such as 'carrier preselect' or international calling cards do not even come close to the cheap rates offered by the websites mentioned above.
Voip: Calling via the Internet
Making phone calls over the internet, 'Voip' or 'voice over IP', is becoming increasingly popular because the rates are very competitive (although in my case, they never seem to beat the rates of the beforementioned websites). All you need is an internet connection and a headset with a microphone. You can download the required software on the internet.
The biggest internet phone provider is Skype. You can use it from any country in the world. The good thing about Skype is that you can make unlimited free calls to other Skype users.
Calling on your cellular phone
There is a long list of mobile phone providers, but they all use one of the five Dutch mobile networks. Many individual providers use the network of the formerly state-owned KPN (e.g. Hi, Symio, Debitel, Simpel). Orange has been bought by Telfort and will cease to exist in July 2008. This means that all users of the Orange network will automatically be transferred to Telfort. The other two networks are T-Mobile and and Vodafone.
Mobile telephony is relatively cheap in the Netherlands but for international calls, you have to look for bargains. Good websites to compare offers are Belcorrect and Bellen; they both compare different telephony products and allow you to post and read reviews.
Buying a cellular phone
If you are looking for a cell phone (mobieltje in Holland or gsm in Flanders) and you do not have a subscription yet, purchase your phone together with a subscription. You will pay much less when you combine the two. Some providers are so desparate to sell you their subscriptions, that they will offer you a phone for free.
Some of the main online shops that offer cheap cell phones, sim cards, and subscriptions: The Phonehouse (which also has branches in virtually every main Dutch shopping street), Typhone, GSM Plaza, Mobiele Telefoons, GSM Warenhuis.
Prepaid and sim only
If you already have a phone and you are only looking for a prepaid card, you should look for 'sim only'. The calling rates can be significantly lower than for other prepaid solutions. Cheap sim cards for prepaid calling are LowCall and Symio.
At Sim Stunts, you can buy a cheap sim card without a cell phone.