If you are going to drive in the Netherlands, it is a good idea to make sure you know what kind of roads there are and what traffic signs you may encounter.
Dutch roads in the Netherlands
The Netherlands has one of the world’s most dense road networks with 139.000 kilometres of public roads, including at least 3.530 kilometres of motorways and expressways. The country also has one of the densest motorway networks in the world with a motorway density of 64 kilometres per 1.000 square kilometres. Most roads also support cyclists, except for motorways and expressways.
There are different types of roads to be found in the Netherlands:
A-roads (autosnelwegen / snelwegen)
The Dutch designation for motorways is autosnelwegen or snelwegen, and they are numbered and signposted with an A and up to three digits. These roads may only be used by vehicles that are capable and legally allowed to go at least 60 kilometres per hour (km/h). The maximum speed on motorways is 100 km/h between 6am and 7pm, and 120 / 130 km/h between 7pm and 6am.
Major motorways in the Netherlands
Here are some notable motorways in the Netherlands:
A13, between Rotterdam and The Hague
With a traffic volume of 140.000 vehicles a day, this is the busiest Dutch motorway.
A10, Coen Tunnel Amsterdam
With 110.000 vehicles a day, this is the busiest four-lane motorway in the Netherlands.
A15 / A16, Rotterdam
This is the widest motorway in the Netherlands with 16 lanes (4+4+4+4).
On average, the busiest motorways can be found in the province of Utrecht, as major motorways A1, A2, A12, A27 and A28 run through it.
Expressways that do not (fully) meet motorway standards are called autowegen. These roads are numbered as well and usually signposted with an N (Non-motorway) and up to three digits, and almost all of these roads are national or provincial roads. The maximum speed limit for N-roads is indicated by signage and varies depending on the road’s location.
Stadsroutes (city routes) are a type of arterial road or city ring road. These roads are numbered from 100 or 101 and signposted with an S. These types of roads can be found in Amsterdam, Rotterdam, The Hague, Almere, Zaanstad, Heerlen and Nijmegen. The maximum speed on S-roads is 50 km/h, except for arterials with a dual carriageway (70km/h).
Dutch road signs
When you are driving on Dutch roads, you will need to know the traffic rules and signs in the Netherlands. For instance, you will need to know when exactly a traffic sign applies. For example, if a road is divided into lanes, a sign may apply to only one lane, such as matrix displays (electronic signs) that indicate a maximum speed. After all, you don't want to get a traffic fine or have your driving licence taken away.
There are various types of Dutch road signs you need to know about:
Onderbord (a traffic sign below a main sign)
In the Netherlands, sometimes a traffic sign features an additional sign underneath it, this is called an “onderbord” in Dutch. This sign provides further explanation of the traffic sign, for example, to whom or whom not the sign applies.
Matrix displays above or next to the road have the same meaning as regular traffic signs. Is there a different maximum speed on the matrix board than on the traffic sign? The lowest speed applies!
A red cross on the matrix display means that you are not allowed to use that particular lane. If you do so anyway, you may be fined up to 230 euros.
The word “zone” may be displayed above a traffic sign. This means that the relevant prohibition applies for the entire zone, until you come across an “end zone” sign.
Common traffic signs in the Netherlands
Here are a few common traffic signs you may encounter when driving in the Netherlands:
|Built-up area||End of built-up area||Maximum speed||End of maximum speed|
|Maximum speed on matrix board||Maximum speed 100km/h between 06:00 and 19:00 hrs||30 km/h zone||Recommended speed|
|Motorway||End of motorway||Expressway||Residential area|
|Lane for scheduled buses||Tram lane||Compulsory cycle path||End of compulsory cycle path|
|Bicycle/moped path||Optional cycle path||Bicycle street, cars allowed||Forbidden to park bicycles and mopeds|
Overview of Dutch roads and traffic signs
For a complete overview of all the traffic signs in the Netherlands, you can download the PDF Road Traffic Signs and Regulations in the Netherlands or view the most up-to-date version on the government’s website (in Dutch).