Certain laws allow expats moving to the Netherlands to claim a tax exemption on importing a car to the Netherlands.
It can often be worthwhile taking your car, motorbike, or camper van with you to the Netherlands. Expats moving to the Netherlands may, in many cases, be exempt from Dutch registration tax and import duties. This can save you as much as thousands of euros in comparison to someone who doesn’t have an exemption.
What are removal goods?
‘Removal goods’ is the translation of the Dutch term ‘verhuisgoederen’. When a car is a removal good, it is exempt from registration tax (the BPM) and import duties, provided the owner has lived abroad for 12 months and the owner used the car for at least six months before the move. New cars are not exempt.
Depending on the car, you could save thousands when choosing to import a car rather than purchasing one in the Netherlands. The douane (Dutch customs) deals with imports and exemptions. You can apply for a tax exemption up to 12 months after your move.
Once you move to the Netherlands, you must also exchange your license for a Dutch one. Different rules apply depending on the country from which you moved. Read more about getting a Dutch driving license.
Read more in this explanation from the Dutch tax authorities.
How to import a car to the Netherlands as a ‘removal good’
Less stringent administrative requirements apply to the admittance of a vehicle that constitutes ‘moving goods’. The process of how to import a car into the Netherlands as a ‘removal good’ comprises five steps:
One of the first questions you ask when planning a move is about moving your belongings. In some cases, you can arrange to have your vehicle(s) shipped as part of your removal goods.
There are multiple parties that can handle the shipping of your car, for example, your employer or a moving company. Some moving companies can assist with all the complications of the actual move – searching for houses or arranging Internet and telephone services. Many don’t know how to import a car, however.
In many cases, expats must arrange shipping themselves. If this is the case, you can use an import service provider for the relocation. Apart from the shipping, they can also take over all the administrative hassle, although you can do it yourself.
Note that the party that arranges the shipping must submit the removal goods exemption to the Dutch Tax and Customs Administration. It is recommended to arrange this well in advance of shipping.
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 fulfill the conditions of the removal goods tax exemption:
- The vehicle forms part of your household effects.
- You’ll use the motor vehicle that you have brought for the same purpose as you used it abroad.
- You bought the motor vehicle at least six 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.
Following approval, you receive a certificate of clearance and can collect the vehicle via an import service provider or carrier. Otherwise, you must 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 may not be kept on a public road.
For both Dutch and foreign residents, it is illegal to drive or park a car without a registration and third-party insurance on the public road. Thus, you should transport the car by a carrier specialized in importing cars to the Netherlands. They also can store the car on a private property until the registration of the car is done.
3. Technical adaptation in accordance with European requirements
Though there are less strict administrative requirements, there are technical requirements that must be fulfilled. For example, cars in the Netherlands are required to have fog lights on the rear of the car. Most non-European cars don’t have these lights, so you may need to have a specialized workshop or import service provider make these lights compliant.
A RDW station (National Vehicle Authority, Rijksdienst voor het Wegverkeer) can arrange the inspection of your car, as well as the registration. 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.
4. Testing and registration in the Netherlands
Once the vehicle adapts for the Netherlands according to Dutch technical requirements, RDW must test it.
You can arrange this yourself, but there may be 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 – and you still have to buy and fit the Dutch number plates yourself.
Finally, although you do not have to pay BPM as the car is a part of your household goods, the Dutch tax authority still requires that you make a BPM declaration.
Arranging your own import isn’t always practical, especially for expats. 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 auto insurance (autoverzekering), 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.
Many may think that buying or importing cars in the Netherland is an expensive process, but for expats, it may not be – so don’t forget to bring your car!