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How to drive in the Netherlands

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Despite all of the public transit options in the Netherlands and the convenience of bikes, sometimes, you just need a car.  Whether it’s to move to a new apartment, or go camping in one of the more distant places, or start a road trip across Europe, there’s no question that sometimes the car is the most convenient way to travel.

Tourists and other people who are just passing through do not need to concern themselves with drivers’ licenses, as long as your driving license complies with the Vienna Convention (where the classes of vehicles you are allowed to operate are A, B, C, and D).  If yours does not, then procuring an international license in addition to your driver’s license is advised.

EU/EFTA and Non-EU/EFTA licenses

If you have an EU/EFTA license and it was issued before 19 January 2013, then it is valid for ten years after the date of issue.  If it was issued after 19 January 2013, then you can drive with it for fifteen years after the date of issue. Once the license expires, you’ll have to apply for or exchange your driver’s license for a Dutch one.

For non-EU/EFTA licenses, you are required to exchange it for a Dutch license within 6 months of registering your residence at the gemeente (municipality officials). You will face fines for continuing to drive with it after this time.

Exchanging driving licenses

The first thing you will need in order to exchange your driver’s license is a residence permit.  Exchanging the license is a function performed by the gemeente.  You will need to provide identification, the foreign license that you wish to exchange, and a photograph.  For some classes you may also need a declaration of health from your general practitioner. You may waive this, but if you do, your Dutch license will not be for the same class.  

Driving test in the Netherlands

If you do not succeed in exchanging your driver’s license within six months of registering your residence, or if you have never held a driver’s license before, then you will need to obtain a new license.  Obtaining a new license requires first obtaining permission from the gemeente to get one. Then you must choose a driving school. You will need your DigiD for this; if you do not have one then it can be arranged for separately.  

Only the driving school can schedule you to take the theoretical exam; while you are advised to take the lessons with the school, you will receive a book that you can study from, so attending classes is not mandatory.  Once you have passed the theoretical exam, you are allowed to practice driving with an instructor – you are not permitted to drive by yourself during this time. The driving school will also schedule the practical exam. Upon passing the practical exam, you can then pick up your license from the gemeente.

In case of emergency

If, for some reason, your car has broken down, and you are blocking traffic, you must use a red warning triangle 30 m ahead or behind your car to warn oncoming traffic about the situation. If you are a member of the ANWB, you can call them for assistance; otherwise you may have to arrange your own towing service.

If it is an accident, the law requires that all parties stop and exchange insurance information, vehicle registration numbers, and names of everybody involved.  If someone is injured, 112 must be called; the police will be notified and medical assistance will be sent.  The police will make a formal report of the accident.  This report will be available upon request from the Stichting Processen Verbaal and you may request it to complete your insurance claim. Failure to stop at the scene of an accident is considered a crime. 

We do our best to provide accurate and up to date information. However, if you have noticed any inaccuracies in this article, please let us know in the comments section below.
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expat.com Your favourite team
Member since 01 June 2008
Small earth, Mauritius
1 Comment
SenjaY
SenjaY
2 years ago

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

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