Importing a car to the Netherlands

How to import a car and claim a tax exemption in the Netherlands

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Certain laws allow expats moving to the Netherlands to claim a tax exemption on importing a car to the Netherlands.

Are you moving to the Netherlands soon? It is useful to know that it can often be worthwhile taking your car, motorbike or camper van with you to the Netherlands. This is because expats moving to the Netherlands can be exempt from Dutch registration tax and import duties in many cases. This can save you as much as thousands of euros compared to someone who does not have a tax exemption for removal goods.

What is more, less stringent administrative requirements apply to the admittance of a vehicle that constitutes 'removal goods'.

What constitutes as 'removal goods'?

'Removal Goods' is the translation of the Dutch term ‘Verhuisgoed’. When a car is considered as a ‘removal good’, then it is exempt from registration tax (known as ‘BPM’ in the Netherlands) and import duties, providing the owner has lived abroad for 12 months and the owner has used the car for at least six months before the move – a new car is not exempt.

As Dutch road taxes are levied on a percentage of the car value, for more expensive cars this exemption can save thousands of euros. Douane (Dutch customs) deals with imports and exemptions. You can apply for a tax exemption up to 12 months after your move.

Once you take up residency in the Netherlands, you must also exchange your licence for a Dutch one to legally drive in the Netherlands, although different rules apply depending on where you're from. Read more about exchanging your foreign licence in the Netherlands.

Read more in this explanation from the Dutch tax authorities

How to import a car to the Netherlands as a 'removal good'

The process of how to import your car into the Netherlands as 'removal goods' is as follows.

1. Shipping
The first thing you think of when you plan to move is: ‘how do I get my belongings to the Netherlands?’ In some cases, you can arrange to have your vehicle(s) shipped as part of your removal goods.

There are multiple parties which can handle or organise the shipping of your car, for example, your employer or a removal company (which also handles the removal of the furniture).

But in many cases, expats must arrange shipping themselves. If this is the case, you can opt to call upon the services of an import service provider for the relocation of your vehicle(s). Apart from the shipping, they can also take over all the administrative hassle, although you can do it yourself.

Note: The party that arranges the shipping is also the party that must submit the removal goods exemption to the Dutch Tax and Customs Administration. It is recommended to arrange this well in advance of shipping.

Importing a car to the Netherlands

2. Inward clearance and transport within the Netherlands

Once your car has arrived in the Netherlands, your vehicle will be subject to inward clearance by Customs.

They check whether you fulfil the conditions of the removal goods tax exemption

  • The motor vehicle forms part of your household effects.
  • You will use the motor vehicle that you have brought for the same purpose as you used it abroad.
  • You bought the motor vehicle at least 6 months before you moved to the Netherlands and you used the motor vehicle during that period.
  • You lived at least 12 months abroad before you moved to the Netherlands.

If approved, you will receive a certificate of clearance and the vehicle may be collected by an import service provider or carrier – otherwise you will to calculate and pay the BPM tax before collecting your car. Please note that transport by road is not yet permitted as the vehicle does not yet have a valid number plate. Your vehicle must not be kept on a public road either.

For both Dutch and foreign residents, it is forbidden to drive or park a car without a registration and third-party insurance on the public road, thus why you should transport the car by a carrier. They also can store the car on a private property untill the registration of the car is done.

3. Technical adaptation in accordance with European requirements

Less stringent administrative requirements apply to the admittance of a vehicle that constitutes removal goods. However, there are technical requirements that must be fulfilled, such as fitting the correct lighting. It is advisable to arrange a specialised workshop or import service provider to make these lights compliant.

A RDW station (Rijksdienst voor het Wegverkeer) can arrange the inspection of your car, and later the registration (see next point). You can search the yellow pages for RDW-approved stations, or make an appointment online at certain RDW stations. There is a fee for the inspection.

Importing a car to the Netherlands

4. Testing and registration in the Netherlands

Once the vehicle has been adapted in the Netherlands according to Dutch technical requirements, it will need to be tested by RDW (National Vehicle and Driving Licence Registration Authority).

You can arrange this yourself but there are some logistic issues. For example, you will need temporary number plates and a special insurance in order to be permitted to drive to the testing station. Furthermore, your vehicle may not be kept on a public road until it has a permanent Dutch registration, as it is not possible to take out any insurance until that time. Finally, you still have to buy and fit the Dutch number plates yourself.

Arranging your own import isn't always practical for people. To save time and hassle of importing a car yourself, you can opt to outsource the approval process.

5. Hit the road

Once the import process is complete, the RDW will enter your vehicle into the vehicle registration system. The vehicle registration (kentekencard) is then sent to your home address.

Once the registration is complete, you have to take out Dutch third-party insurance (autoverzekering is auto insurance), which is mandatory to drive in the Netherlands.

Third party liability – Wettelijke Aansprakelijkheidsverzekering (WA) – is the minimum obligatory insurance, which covers your damage to third parties, which includes everybody and everything involved in an accident except for you, your car and your possessions. You would need extra insurance to cover theft, fire and storms.

A national insurer and roadside-support organisation includes The Royal Dutch Touring Club (ANWB) but you are free to choose any insurance provider. You can compare insurance providers at After that, you can hit the road.


VDS Automotive Services / Expatica

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