Dutch scrap EU expat driving licence registration
4 February 2004
AMSTERDAM — Ruled to be in breach of European Union communal law, the Netherlands has recently adjusted regulations to ensure that EU expats no longer have to register their driving licence with Dutch municipalities.
The change comes after the European Court ruled in July 2003 that Dutch regulations concerning the driving licences of EU expats living in the Netherlands were too strict.
Dutch authorities previously required EU citizens to register their driving licences when they moved to the Netherlands, but the European Commission submitted a complaint to the court, stating that EU legislation obligates member states to recognise the licences of EU residents.
The EU founding charter, the Treaty of Rome, allows for the freedom of movement of EU citizens, but Dutch regulations prevented expats from automatically using their foreign licence if they are a Dutch resident.
Expats are considered a resident if they spend at least 185 days per calendar year in the Netherlands, but if they wished to use their driving licence for longer than a year, they previously had to have it registered at municipal offices.
But in announcing the change to licence regulations, a spokeswoman for the Transport Ministry told Expatica on Wednesday that the Netherlands is no longer in breach of EU communal law. The change of regulations also applies to nationals from incoming EU member states.
The spokeswoman said all relevant institutions have been informed of the change, but admitted that some public communications have not yet been updated and the government is working to rectify this.
She was referring to the English-language information on the website of the Dutch vehicle registration and diving licence authority RDW (www.rdw.nl), which still states that EU nationals must register their licences with Dutch municipal authorities.
But expats are still only allowed to use their foreign licence in the Netherlands for a period of 10 years after the original issuance of the licence.
The Transport Ministry spokeswoman explained that all driving licences in the Netherlands are valid for 10 years, including foreign licences. “A German who lives in the Netherlands for 10 years, must exchange his German driving licence for a Dutch version,” she said.
The spokeswoman said this was in line with a proposal from the European Commission to harmonise the validity duration of EU licences. Some EU nations issue driving licence’s with a life-time validity.
[Copyright Expatica News 2004]
Subject: Dutch news