Driving in the Netherlands with a foreign license

Driving in the Netherlands with a foreign license

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Dutch Umbrella Company is an IND-certified sponsor with a specialist team offering extensive knowledge and experience to help skilled professionals migrate to, and work in, the Netherlands.

You've already found a challenging job and a nice place to live within driving distance of your workplace. But can you still use your current driving license now you have moved to the Netherlands? We will explain all you need to know about using your foreign driving license during your stay in the Netherlands.

New expats

New expats can continue using their foreign driving license if they live in the Netherlands for the period that their license is still valid. This period of license validity varies from country to country. Check your own driving license for the validity period and date.

EU / EFTA citizens

Was your foreign driving license issued by a country in the EU / EFTA or Switzerland, Norway, Liechtenstein or Iceland before January 19, 2013? In this case, you will be able to use it for as long as it remains valid, with a maximum of 10 years after issuing.

Is your licence already over nine years old? You may continue driving with it for another two years, counting from the date of your registration at your municipality.

If your driving license was issued after January 19, 2013, you may use it to drive in the Netherlands until it expires, with a maximum of 15 years.

Once the validity of the original foreign driving license ends, you will need to apply for a Dutch driving license. 

Extra conditions 

A foreign driving license issued within the EU / EFTA might have expired on the date of application for a Dutch driving license. If this is the case, you need a declaration form from the agency (where the driving license was issued). This document contains a statement of agreement regarding the application for a Dutch driving license. It must be clear that the agency does not have any objections for the issuing of a Dutch driving license.

Non-EU / EFTA citizens

Was your foreign driving license issued by a country outside the EU / EFTA, Switzerland, Norway, Liechtenstein or Iceland? Then you will be able to use it for six months, starting from the date you became a resident in the Netherlands. In other words: you will have to exchange your foreign driving license for a Dutch driving license within six months of settling in the Netherlands.

It is important to note that these six months are very strict. If you apply for a Dutch driving license after the six month period has passed, you will need to pass the Dutch driving exam.

Extra conditions

If you have a driving license that was issued outside the EU / EFTA, it must be valid on the application date for a Dutch one. Your foreign driving license must have been issued in a particular year (in which you were resident in the country of issue) for at least 185 days.

You will need to show evidence of this by handing in copies of your passport (including blank pages), airplane tickets and employer certificates with salary or tax documents.

Exchanging your foreign driving licence for a Dutch licence

Regardless of the country that issued your driving license, you will have to exchange it for a Dutch driving license following a transition period. This procedure is subject to a number of conditions:

  • You are officially registered in the Netherlands
  • You are a Dutch citizen or hold a valid permanent residence visa / permit
  • Your foreign driving license was issued in the EU (European Union), the EFTA (European Free Trade Association) or one of the non-EU countries; or you benefit from the 30% ruling
  • You hold a valid driving licence

How to exchange your foreign driving licence

If you meet the conditions above, you can apply for a Dutch driving license. To do so, go to the municipality where you are registered. For the application, you must have a valid ID, your foreign driver’s license, Citizen Service Number (BSN number) and a photo which meets the Dutch passport photo requirements.

In some cases, you will need a "Certificate of Fitness", which states you are medically fit to drive a vehicle.

If you have a foreign driving license which uses characters or punctuation uncommon in the Netherlands (like Japanese or Greek), you will need a translation of your driving license. This cannot be any kind of translation, it must be issued by a sworn translator, the embassy or the consulate.

The application for this takes about 2 weeks, so be aware of that. You are not allowed to drive during the exchange period, as you will not be able to present your driving license to the police if they ask you to (required by law). If you do get behind the wheel, you risk a fine.

Not your first time exchanging your foreign driving license for a Dutch one?

If you have had a Dutch driving license before (valid after June 30, 1985), you only have to prove the conditions listed above for the category (B, BE etc.) you did not have on your previous Dutch driving license.

Not possible to exchange your foreign driving license?

If it is not possible for you to meet the required standards for exchanging your driving license, you must take the Dutch driving test. This will consist of a theoretical and practical exam.

30% ruling and exchanging your driving licence

If you are a highly skilled migrant who benefits from the 30% tax ruling, you can exchange your driving license for a Dutch equivalent. Under these circumstances, it doesn’t matter which country you are from. The same applies to your family; they can also exchange their foreign driving license for the Dutch equivalent if you benefit from the 30% ruling.

Would you like to know more about using or exchanging your driving license in the Netherlands? Don’t hesitate to contact Dutch Umbrella by sending them an email at [email protected] and they will answer any questions you might have.



Theo Kruyswijk



Leave a comment

Bob Walter 08:54 | 12 June 2019

I am still a bit confused. I am from USA (explains the confusion). My license expires in 2025. I am under the 30% ruling. I am a registered resident since Aug 2018. Do I 'need' to get a Dutch license now?

michelanjos 17:04 | 13 June 2019

Hi Bob. I think yes! Because you are a non-EU citizen. But if you are under the 30% ruling, it's easy to exchange. In my case, I'm from Brazil but I have my license issued by Portugal (I lived there), so I don't need exchange to another one.

Stefan Wiewel -... 11:59 | 17 June 2019

Dear Bob, Thank you for your question. A very simple response is: Yes, you do 'need' a Dutch license. It's mandatory. If you have a valid driving license that was issued in a country that is not an EU/EFTA member state, you can continue to use it for 185 days after registering in the Netherlands (in the Basic Register of Persons). After this period, you may only drive in the Netherlands with a Dutch driving license. Because the country in which you obtained your license, the USA, is outside the EU and/or not a member of the EFTA you can't exchange your license for a Dutch one. The exception to this is if you have a 30% ruling, which you do, so you can exchange it for a Dutch licence.

nathandavidson 07:57 | 27 July 2019

I am actually quite surprised that there is no information about which side of the road people drive on over there. To me, it doesn't really matter how difficult the process of applying for a conversion is going to be if I'm going to have to relearn everything because it's all in the reverse!

Flora Cajiau 04:25 | 9 August 2019

Still confused over here! I am from Argentina so my license was issued outside the EU. I can still use it for six months after becoming a resident? After those six months do I need to take the Dutch driving test or just exchange my license for a Dutch one?

MarkKremer2 15:46 | 16 August 2020

Hello, Thank you for the article. I am a US citizen and will soon be a Dutch resident. I have a US drivers license that that does not expire until 2023. I ma not here under the 30% ruling, Can I exchange my license for a Dutch one, or do I need to go through the entire process and exams?