While the Netherlands has a pretty good public transport system and people here love cycling, driving your car to your destination remains quite popular. Our driving section covers everything you need to know about driving in the Netherlands - from driving licences to traffic fines.
Are you allowed to use your foreign driving licence in the Netherlands?
Are you allowed to use your foreign driving licence to drive a car in the Netherlands? It depends on a number of things. After arriving in the Netherlands, new expats can use their driving licence for a certain period of time. The length of validity of the licence depends on the country of issue.
Are you planning to stay in the Netherlands long-term? If so, it might be worth exchanging your foreign driving licence for a Dutch one. Read more about using a foreign driving licence in the Netherlands.
How to import your car to the Netherlands
If you are relocating to this country for a longer period of time, you may want to import your car to the Netherlands. If you want to drive your car legally, there are a couple of things you need to do. They include registering your car, paying the necessary taxes and getting a Dutch licence plate.
Car insurance: WA (motor vehicle) insurance / third-party insurance
WA or motor vehicle insurance is compulsory for all drivers, at least for third-party liability. Read more about car insurance in the Netherlands.
Car insurance providers in the Netherlands
- De Goudse Verzekeringen (customer service by European insurance in English)
- Pricewise (car insurance comparison)
- Centraal Beheer
How to register your car in the Netherlands
If you buy a new car in the Netherlands, it will need to be registered in your name. You can transfer the ownership of a car at a vehicle registration office, an RDW testing centre, or a vehicle registration service desk. If you buy a car from a car dealership, it may be possible for you to be able to register it in your name on the spot, but only if the dealer has RDW approval to allocate car registration numbers.
Certain conditions apply for registration, for instance, you must be a resident of the Netherlands and be registered in the Personal Records Database of your municipality. To transfer your car, you will need the registration report, the transfer document and a valid form of identification OR the vehicle registration card, the registration code and a valid form of identification. Transferring a vehicle to your name via the RDW will cost you around 10 euros.
Road tax in the Netherlands (motorrijtuigenbelasting)
After registering your car, you will automatically receive a bill from the Belastingdienst concerning road tax. How much road tax you will have to pay depends on the following factors:
- The weight of your vehicle
- What type of fuel your vehicle uses
- How environmentally polluting the vehicle is
- What province you are located in
You can calculate how much road tax you will have to pay here (in Dutch).
Do I need to pay the private motor vehicle and motorcycle tax (bpm)?
When a vehicle is registered in the Netherlands for the first time, bpm must be paid. However, it is possible to be exempt from paying this one-off tax.
In the following cases, you do not need to pay bpm tax:
- Employee exemption: Your car is registered abroad and provided by your foreign employer.
- Employer exemption: Your car is registered abroad, and you have a business outside of the Netherlands.
- CO2 levels: To qualify for this exemption, your car needs to emit zero CO2.
Dutch driving rules
Dutch driving rules may differ from what you are used to in your home country. For instance, the maximum speed limit here might be a lot lower. Here are some traffic rules that you should know about.
How do traffic fines in the Netherlands work?
What happens when you violate Dutch traffic rules? How much will you be fined? Will you have to go to court? It all depends on the offence. The more serious the violation, the higher the fine. Learn more about traffic fines in the Netherlands.
How to refuel your car in the Netherlands
Before you get on the road, it’s a good idea to familiarise yourself with where and how you can get fuel. How much does fuel cost? What kind of fuel can you get at Dutch fuel pump stations? What about fuel station opening times? And where can you recharge your electric car? Find out all about refuelling your car in the Netherlands.
Periodic vehicle inspection (APK)
If you have a car registered in your name, you are personally responsible to make sure the vehicle undergoes periodic vehicle inspection (APK). This inspection needs to be carried out by a garage or testing station which is approved by the RDW. Your vehicle needs to be tested annually or every two years to ensure the vehicle is roadworthy, safe for the environment, and registered correctly.
What to do when you are having car trouble in the Netherlands
If your car breaks down, it is important to put it as far to the right as possible with the wheels turned to the right. You should also turn on your hazard lights. All occupants should get out of the car on the right-hand side and get behind the guardrail, if possible, to wait for roadside assistance. If you are in a life-threatening situation, always call emergency number 112 first.
Where to get roadside assistance (pechhulp) in the Netherlands
Roadside assistance or pechhulp can be called in in various ways, for instance, via your car dealer, lease company, car insurance, ANWB Wegenwacht or Route Mobiel. The roadside assistance service can help fix your car or they can tow the car for you when this is not possible.
Safety measures when driving in the Netherlands
In the Netherlands, you are not obliged to carry certain safety items in your car. However, it is advised to make sure your car contains the following:
- Warning triangle
- Safety vests
- First aid kit
- Fire extinguisher
- Spare light bulbs
Please note that while you are not obliged to have a warning triangle in your car, in certain situations it is mandatory to use one, for instance, when your hazard lights are not working.
The Netherlands: traffic information
For up-to-date traffic information, including traffic jams and accidents, you can check the site of Rijkswaterstaat.
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