Driving with a foreign license
This blog was published earlier on iamexpat.nl
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 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.
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.
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.