Exchanging a foreign driver’s licence in the Netherlands
If you have a driver's licence from outside of the Netherlands, certain nationalities must exchange it for Dutch driver's licence.
There is no requirement for expats from countries within the European Union to exchange their driver’s licence for a Dutch equivalent as the current law permit EU citizens to drive using their existing licences. Expats from Liechtenstein, Norway and Iceland are also permitted to drive in the Netherlands using their current licence for up to 10 years or when your licence expires, whichever comes first.
Although EU nationals may not have a Dutch driver’s licence, local laws are still applicable including over licence expiry dates, any medical tests required and points, fines and penalties.
Driver’s licences from a host of other European countries and several other nations across the globe, must exchange their licences for a Dutch one when taking up residency in the Netherlands. Any exchanges should occur within six months of the start of the residency. You should also carry a translation of your licence – either an international driving licence or an International Driving Permit (IDP). More information can be found at www.rijbewijs.nl.
Interestingly, if you are a highly skilled migrant who benefits from the 30 percent ruling, then both you and your family can exchange your driving licence for a Dutch equivalent, regardless of which country you are from.
In 2016, the Dutch vehicle licencing service announced plans to introduce an app for mobile driving licences in the new few years, a day after paper licences officially became invalid.
How to exchange a foreign licence in the Netherlands
To exchange a licence, you will need to go to the local town hall (Stadhuis) to get a proof of residency (uittreksel bevolkingsregister). You will need to pay for this, but it will serve as a proof of identity and address. You will also need your original, valid foreign driver’s licence, certificate of medical fitness and a recent passport photograph. The application will then be sent to the Driving Test Organisation who will process the exchange of the licence.
One point to note is that the minimum age for driving in the Netherlands is 18, so, if you are a 17-year-old you will not be allowed to drive in the country even if you have a valid licence from your home country. However, 125cc motorcycles can be ridden by 16- and 17-year olds. There have been recent trials, however, to allow young Dutch drivers to start lessons at 16 years old and get a provisional licence by 17 that them to drive only under the provision of an adult driver or designated coach until gaining their full licence at 18. There are plans to implement this new driving scheme country-wide.
If you are required to take a driving test in the Netherlands, you will have to pass both the theory and practical tests. Theory tests can be taken from the age of 16. The government recommends that drivers should take a theory test every 10 years to maintain their understanding of the roads and rules of the roads, although this is voluntary.
More information on driving in the Netherlands can be found via the Department of Road Transport (RDW) by visiting www.rdw.nl.
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