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Driving in the Netherlands

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Citizens of European Union countries can drive in the Netherlands with their national driver's license. But what about nationals of other countries? Find out here.

Driving in the Netherlands is quite similar to driving in many European Union countries. Hence, you should not have much difficulty in making your way through Dutch roads if you have decided to rent or buy a car. However, there are some peculiarities and formalities which you have to be aware of so as to be on the safe side. Take the time to inquire on these and to familiarize yourself with the Dutch highway code before proceeding.

Proceedings

European Union citizens have to be in possession of their national driver's license or an international driver's license to be able to drive in the Netherlands. As regards expatriates who have been living the country for more than a year and those whose driver's license has been issued more than 10 years ago, they will have to exchange their driver's license against a Dutch driver's license. This procedure will be carried out at the nearest municipality to your place of residence in the Netherlands.

Documents to be produced are:

  • your original driver's license
  • your identity card or passport
  • a passport size identity photo
  • the vehicle's registration certificate (rental certificate if you have rented it)
  • the vehicle's license plate number.

In case the vehicle is owned by another person, you should also be in possession of a procuration letter.

 Important:

Foreigners wishing to stay in the country for more than a year are also required to exchange their national driver's license for a Dutch driver's license. They will have to produce their original driver's license, a valid identity card or passport, as well as a passport size identity picture.

You can also obtain a Dutch driver's license by passing the driving test in the Netherlands, provided you are a European Union or Swiss citizen or you have a valid residence permit in the country. Moreover, you should register at The Hague Municipal Registry to be eligible to the driving test.

 Good to know:

The penalty points concept does not exist in the Netherlands.

Driving test

The driving test consists of two parts: the theoretical test and the practical test.

You can pass the theoretical test in English, at your convenience, in a driving school. But you can also purchase training books and applications so as to prepare yourself individually. To register for the theoretical test, you will have to produce:

  • your duly filled and signed theory card (which is available in driving schools and at CBR examination centers)
  • your identification documents
  • a proof of address
  • a recent passport size photo.

You will have to answer to 25 questions on road safety. You may make a maximum of 13 mistakes to qualify. Furthermore, you will have to answer to 40 questions pertaining to road safety and traffic regulations. You are allowed to make only 5 mistakes. Results will be issued immediately after the test. In case you have succeeded, you will receive a theoretical examination certificate which has a one year validity and which will allow you to proceed with the practical test.

To register for the practical test, you will require your identity documents, a duly filled and signed application form, your theoretical examination certificate as well as a medical certificate which is available at driving schools and municipalities. This certificate has to be filled in and signed by a licensed doctor.

Moreover, the Dutch system offers candidates the ability to anticipate certain steps in the practical test. Hence, you will not be assessed again on your ability to start and park the vehicle if you have undergone a provisional test. Thus, the examination can take between 45 minutes and an hour.

If you have passed the driving test, your driver's license should be ready within five days. However, you are not authorized to drive in the Netherlands prior to obtaining it.

Traffic regulations

Speed is limited at 50 km/h in city centers and at 80 km/h in outskirts. On fast lanes, you are allowed to drive at a maximum speed of 100 km/h. On highways, on the other hand, speed is limited at 120 km/h.

The maximum permitted BAC is fixed at 0.5 grams per liter in the blood. For drivers with a less than five years old driver's license, the maximum threshold is set at 0.2 grams per liter, which is equal to a single drink. Moreover, dangerous driving due to drug consumption is punishable.

The minimum driving age in the Netherlands is 18 years. But you are allowed to ride a moped as from 16 years. Moreover, you must be at least 19 years old to be allowed to rent a car as your driver's license should be at least one year old.

In case of breakdown, you must be in possession of a warning triangle. Emergency equipment such as a reflective vest, a fire extinguisher and a first aid kit are highly recommended on board.

In case of failure, the indication by the warning triangle is compulsory. It is also recommended to anticipate emergencies by providing it with a reflective, fire extinguisher and a first aid kit vest.

Bikes

Bicycles are very common in the Netherlands, particularly in Amsterdam where some streets are strictly reserved for bikers. Elsewhere, cyclists have the priority over cars. Moreover, special road signs have been placed for them.

Parking

It can be quite difficult to find parking space in Ireland, especially in its major cities. Hence, drivers tend to park their cars in free hotel parking lots. They will then either travel by public transport or rent a bike.

 Useful links:

RDW - Exchange driving license abroad www.rdw.nl
European Commission – Driver's license ec.europa.eu
CBR www.cbr.nl
Rijbewijs.nl www.rijbewijs.nl

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expat.com Your favourite team
Member since 01 June 2008
Small earth, Mauritius
1 Comment
SenjaY
SenjaY
last year

"It can be quite difficult to find parking space in Ireland" -- I thought this was about the Netherlands ;)

Reply

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