The Driving License
As EU citizens, you continue to use your licence from your home country until it expires.
However, for most non-European expats residing for longer than six months, your licence will require to exchange it within that first 6-month period. Using a foreign driver license in the Netherlands, issued to citizens of the EU/EEA or for citizens from outside Europe there are different lengths of validity and conditions applicable.
Driver license issued in Switzerland, Norway, Liechtenstein, or Iceland check the date of issue so you can decide which steps are required. Keep in mind the following guidelines;
- driver license issued before January 19th 2013, is allowed to use in the Netherlands as long as it is valid, with a maximum of 10 years. However if it is older than 9 years, only allowed use for 2 years, counting from registration date at the Town Hall.
- driver license issued after January 19th 2013, allowed to use in the Netherlands as long as it is valid, with a maximum of 15 years.
Non-EU/EEA driver licence
A valid non-EU/EEA driving license for 185 days (6 months) counting from registration date at the Town Hall. For citizens of all countries outside the EU/EEA (including the Netherlands Antilles and Aruba), licences are valid for 6-months, counting from registration date at the municipality. Prior to the 6 months expiration date, renewal/exchange is required for a Dutch driver License.
After expiration date the driver license is invalid, which may result in a considerable fine. Insurance companies may not cover damages in case of accidents.
Conditions for exchange
Registration of residence in the Netherlands with a valid residence permit (if applicable) is key.
- Member of the EU/EEA or Switzerland; for example, country with a special drivers licence agreement; or if there is a benefit from the 30% ruling.
- Expired EU/EEA licence, may be exchanged if a declaration from the agency in the country where the driving licence was issued in which they state they have no objection to a Dutch driving licence being issued.
- non-EU/EEA driving licence is valid at the time of the application.
- EU/EEA citizens with a licence issued before January 19, 2013, is allowed to use the licence for 10 years after it was issued, However, if it is older than 9 years, only allowed to use for 2 years, counting from registration date at the Town Hallis ) as long as it is valid.
- EU/EEA licences issued after January 19, 2013, holders can drive with them for up to 15 years, as long as the licence is valid. Once the validity of the original licence ends, the holder will need to apply for a Dutch driving licence.
- Driver License is obtained while being a resident of that country for at least half a year (185 days). Evidence for this can be copies from your passport (including blank pages), airplane tickets, or salary or tax documents.
- Applications for exchange for a Dutch driving license after 6-months validation period will require the Dutch driving exams.
There are countries that have special agreements with the Netherlands for the exchange of licences. Exchange is only possible if they are valid for the stated categories:
- Taiwan, Israel: category B, passenger vehicle
- Japan: category IB, passenger vehicle and motorcycle in excess of 400 cm3
- Singapore: Class 2, motorcycle in excess of 400 cm3; and Class 3, passenger vehicle
- South Korea: second class ordinary licence
- Canada, province of Quebec: Class 5
- Andorra, Aruba, Jersey, Isle of Man, Monaco, Netherlands Antilles: all categories
A previously obtained a Dutch driving licence (valid after June 30, 1985) only prove the conditions for the new categories are required. Failure to meet any of the abovementioned conditions, require the Dutch theory and practical test.
Exchange of a foreign driving licence
Application are done at the municipality where you are registered. They will forward your exchange application to the RDW. The appraisal process takes approximately two weeks and applicants are not permitted to drive while their application is being processed. For the application the below documents are required;
- foreign driving licence
- BSN number
In some cases, a VvG (verklaring van geschiktheid) a declaration of fitness, will be requested to prove you are physically and psychologically fit to drive a vehicle. You can get the VvG form your municipality, at Mijn CBR (log in with your DigiD) or from certain expat centres. A VvG is required when:
- with an EU/EEA or Swiss driving licence with categories C, CE, C1, D and so on.
- if there is the benefit from the 30% tax ruling.
- with driving licence from the Netherlands Antilles or Aruba.
- when a driving licence is from one of the countries with a special agreement.
- the EU/EEA licence is valid for a shorter period than is usual in the country of issue or has
- restrictive annotations which are not designated within EU codes.
- when the beautiful age of 75 years or older is reached.
After submission of the form with CBR, a notification will be provided when the VvG has been registered and if an additional health check required. After completion of these steps an application to exchange the driver licence can be issued.
If the application is successful, a new Dutch driving licence will be issued a couple weeks later (max 3 weeks). Before mentioned procedure is far more complex for heavy duty and commercial licences.
Dutch driving licence benefits from 30% ruling
A driving licence exchange for a Dutch one, is made smoother if you are eligible for the 30% ruling, regardless your country of origin. By following the procedure as well as submit your 30% ruling statement issued by the Belastingdienst (Dutch tax office) to your municipality.