How to get a Dutch driver's licence
Long-term residents in the Netherlands must possess a Dutch driving licence to drive a motor vehicle. Some expats may trade in their foreign licence, while others may need to retake a test. Which category are you in?
To exchange (omwissel) your existing national driving license (rijbewijs) for a Dutch one, you must fit into one of the categories below. Otherwise you can use it for 185 days after arrival after which you must pass the regular CBR theory and driving tests (available in English but you may need to pay extra).
“Drivers in international traffic” - essentially a tourist or short-term visitor, are non-residents on the Dutch roads and do not need a Dutch driving license. Dutch licenses are generally issued for 10 years. If you have a license from an EU country, it is also valid for 10 years from the date of issue. You may like to exchange it anyway: it is a valid proof of identity in many cases.
Licenses that can be exchanged:
- Aruba, Belgium, Cyprus, Denmark, Germany, Estonia, Finland, France, Greece, Great Britain, Northern Ireland, Hungary, Ireland, Iceland, Italy, (States of) Jersey, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Isle of Man, Malta, Monaco, Netherlands Antilles, Norway, Austria, Poland, Portugal, Quebec, Spain, Slovenia, Slovakia, the Czech Republic, Sweden and Switzerland
- Specific licenses from Taiwan, Israel, Japan, Singapore, Andorra, South Korea, Canadian Province of Quebec
- Residents with the 30% ruling status (whatever nationality).
Apply at a municipal office for an ‘Aanvraag omwisseling voor Nederlands rijbewijs’ form; an uitstrekkel: a proof of your registration details is no longer required, but you must have a BSN number and be registered in the municipality database as a resident; and an ’ Eigen Verklaring‘ a CBR statement of health form. If you are 70 years or over you need an ‘Uitgebreide Eigen Verklaring’ or declaration of health. There are fees for these. If you are applying under the 30% ruling you will need a statement from the tax office—the international department in Heerlen. Additional documentation may be required in certain circumstances so check with your own embassy for any specific translation or authentication requirements. You will generally forfeit your original licence (unless applying under the 30% ruling).You need a special license for a moped (brommer), unless you have a license of the A or B category, or motorbike and must be over 16 to get one. (for more information on obtaining a moped and motorbike license read our update (11 June 09).
For all information on driving licences visit the website www.rijbewijs.nl where you’ll find an English language section with comprehensive information.
Registering and owning a car
The hefty disincentive for bringing a car into the Netherlands is the private motor vehicle and motor cycle tax (BPM) levied as a percentage of the value of the car. Exemption certificates are dealt with by customs www.douane.nl. There are many other tax implications for car owners: consult the website www.belastingdienst.nl for full details (in English). All cars must be registered with the RDW. You can register a car at a post office with all the usual identification documents and certificate of ownership, statutory liability insurance (WA), and safety certificate (APK). For second hand vehicles, there is a transfer certificate Overschrijvingsbewijs.
A seller should insure their previous ownership certificate has been officially invalidated. After registering your car, you will receive a bill for road tax motorrijtuigenbelasting from the tax office.
The vehicle's registration certificate Kentekenbewijs, and the certificate of ownership Tenaamstellingsbewijs must be in the car at all times when on the road.
The APK test (at an RDW approved garage) measures the road worthiness of your vehicle. For cars brought into the Netherlands, a test is necessary if the car is older than three years. For insurance, check the a-z listings or other sources for suppliers of autoverzekering.
You drive on the right. Unless otherwise marked, the speed limits are 50 km/hr in the city, 80 km/hr on other roads and 100/120 km/hr on motorways. Traffic is an issue (www.trafficnet.nl) and so is parking, for which you generally need a permit. There are various options for paying for parking, with cash, chip, or via your mobile phone. Seewww.parkmobiel.nl or www.park-line.nl or www.yellowbrick.nl). Most Dutch drivers are members of motoring organisation ANWB (www.anwb.nl) which can provide breakdown cover (wegenwacht) at home or abroad. Park and Ride (P+R) schemes are in most cities and. Car-sharing scheme Green Wheels is a popular option (www.greenwheels.com). (See expatica article Dutch community car service Greenwheels.)
The Department of Road Transport (www.rdw.nl Tel: 900 0739 or outside the Netherlands +31 598 393330
Driving licenses (www.rijbewijs.nl/)
Driving tests www.cbr.nl
070 413 0300
You can download a brochure Road Traffic Signs and Regulations from the website of the Ministry of Transport and Public works. www.verkeerenwaterstaat.nl. For information on traffic offences, the BVOM (Bureau for Traffic Enforcement of the Public Prosecution Service has details on its website about common offences (www.verkeershandhaving.nl ).
Note: As of 1 March 2009, the theory test has changed to include 25 questions on traffic awareness (you need to get 12 right), 30 questions on traffic regulations, 10 questions on traffic insight (you need to get 35 out of the 40 questions correct). To take the exam (in English and Turkish as well in as in Dutch), you can reserve online on the CBR website at www.cbr.nl/reservering.pp.
Taking the car driving theory and practical tests in English
You can take the theory exam in English or Turkish and, after a brief respite from 1 March - June 2009 when the practical exam in English was no longer a standard option, you can once again take the practical in English. If you find the waiting time for a practical test in English rather lengthy (test centers have a minimal pool of examiners qualified to give the exam in English), you can also opt to take the practical test in Dutch or pay for a translator-- costs are around EUR 96 per hour.
For more information on driving related topics such as vehicle leasing, buying a car, insurance and importing your car to the Netherlands, read the article on our Travel & Tourism subchannel Driving in the Netherlands by Explorer Publishing.
Online moped theory training is now available in English
The Dutch moped theory test is now available in the English language with the release of a new online training and testing course in English this month by The International School of Driving (DriveRight).
Next year moped riders need to take a practical exam
As of 1 January 2010 you will also need to pass a practical exam to ride a moped.
“In this case the examiner follows you on a moped to observe your driving skills. The CBR announced today (11 June 2009) that you can request to take the practical in English,” says Michael Davidson, founder and director of The Interational School of Driving (DriveRight).
“Although you may need to wait longer in line to take the test due to limited availability of examiners who are qualified to give the test in the English language.”
Ask the experts
Do you have driving-related questions? Ask our expert Michael Davidson. Simply go the the Travel and Transport category of our Ask the experts section and click on his name.Current Q&As cover topics such as vehicle insurance and registration.
A-z listingFor driving schools in English, check out our A-Z listings under Travel and transportation > Driving Schools.
[Updated June 2009]