Foreign driving license in the Netherlands

Have you come to the Netherlands and do you have a foreign driving license? Then you should exchange it after a while.

A foreign driving license allows you to drive in the Netherlands. The length of the validity can vary, depending on the country of issue. We have summarized the most important information for you.

Can I exchange my foreign driving license?

Exchanging your foreign driving license for a Dutch driving license is only possible when you meet certain conditions:

•   You must be registered in the Basic Registration of Persons (BRP). Are you planning to stay in the Netherlands for longer than four months? Then, registration with the BRP is compulsory. You can register at the municipality where you live. If you already have a Citizen Service Number (BSN), you are also registered in the BRP.
•   You must have a valid identity document and residence document.
•   Are you living in the Netherlands for work? Then, you can often exchange your driving license for a Dutch one, because you are suitable for the 30% rule of the tax authorities. You have to apply for this 30% rule of tax together with your employer. If you are suitable for this 30% rule of the tax authorities, you must also have a statement of this from the tax authorities.
•   The foreign driver's license must still be valid. It is okay if a European driving license has expired.

Did you get your driving license while already living in the Netherlands? Then, it is not allowed to drive with that foreign driving license in the Netherlands.

When should I exchange my foreign driving license?

How long you can continue to drive in the Netherlands with a foreign license depends on the country where you've got your driving license. Did you get your driver's license in a country of the EU (European Union) or EFTA (Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein or Switzerland)? Then you may, after the issue date, continue to drive for 15 years in the Netherlands with the following licenses:
•   AM (driving license for motorized bicycles, scooters or micro mobiles).
•   A1 (driving license for motorcycles up to 125cc and maximum 11 kW).
•   A2 (driving license for motorcycles up to 35kW).
•   A (driving license for all motorcycles).
•   B (driving license for cars).
•   BE (driving license for trailers).

With the following driving licenses, you may only continue to drive in the Netherlands for 5 years after the issue date:
•   C1 (driving license for light trucks and campers).
•   C (driving license for heavier trucks).
•   D1 (driving license for motor vehicles for the transport of at least 8 and not more than 16 persons).
•   D (driving license for buses).
•   C1E/CE (driving license to drive a truck with a trailer).
•   D1E/DE (driving license for buses with a trailer).

Are you from a country outside the European Union, Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein or Switzerland? Then, you may only drive for 185 days in the Netherlands with your driving license. You must also have lived in the issuing country for at least 185 days. You can prove this by, for example, submitting an employer's statement or tax documents at your application.

It is not always the case that you can simply exchange your driving license. You may have to take a new theory and practical exam at the CBR, the Central Office of Driving Certification.

The Netherlands has made an exception for people who come from the following countries and live in the Netherlands for work. Exchanging your driving license is possible if you come from one of the following countries: Andorra, Alberta (Canadian province), Quebec (Canadian province), Gibraltar, Great Britain, Guernsey, Israel, Japan, Jersey, Man, Monaco, Northern Ireland, Singapore, Chinese Taipei (Taiwan), South Korea, and the former Netherlands Antilles (Aruba, Bonaire, Curacao, Saba, Sint Eustatius, and Sint Maarten).

How do you exchange your driving license?

Are you eligible to exchange your foreign driver's license for a Dutch driving license? Then, you need certain documents to perform the exchange. The costs of the exchange of your driving license vary per municipality. You need the following documents for exchanging your driving license:

•   A color passport photo that meets the Fotomatrix Model 2020 requirements. These are the same requirements as for the Dutch passport and Dutch identity card. The photo may not be older than 6 months.
•   A valid (!) foreign driver's license.
•   Possibly a translation of the foreign driver's license, but that's not mandatory.

Are you not from the EU, Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein or Switzerland? Then you must also have a 'Verklaring van Geschiktheid' (Certificate of Suitability). This is issued by the CBR. Do you have a notation on your driving license? Then, you must also have a Verklaring van Geschiktheid. According to the law, you must have a Verklaring van Geschiktheid to drive. Meaning, that you are physically and mentally capable of driving. You can get this form from the CBR. Often, you can also obtain this form from the municipality.

And then?

Take all the documents to the municipality. Here, you fill in an application form, which you must also sign. The municipality then sends the application to RDW. They will process the application. The foreign driving license will be returned to the country where it was issued.

If the application for an exchange of driving license is approved, you will receive a letter that you can pick up the driving license at the municipality, often within 5 working days. Tip: don't forget to bring your identification when you go to pick up your driving license!

How does the Dutch driving license system work?

Enough about exchanging foreign driving licenses. What to do if you don't have a (foreign) driving license yet and would like to get one? How does the Dutch driving license system actually work?

Take driving lessons
If you want to get your car driving license (driving license B) in the Netherlands, you have to take driving lessons at a driving school. You can find good driving school owners in your area here.

Costs of getting your driver's license
The total cost depends on the number of driving lessons you need and the number of times you have to take the exam. On average, you will need about 38 hours of lessons before you can take the exam. In addition to taking driving lessons, you must take a theory exam at the CBR. Finally, you will have to perform a driving exam. You are free to choose to do an intermediate test, which means you don't have to do special operations like parking and the slope test on the driving test.

When can I start getting my driver's license?
In the Netherlands, you can get your driver's license from the age of 17. However, you can already pass the theory exam at the age of 16 and start driving lessons at the age of 16,5. Only when you are 17, you may take the driving exam. Until you are 18, you have to drive with a coach next to you. This must be someone that you know, and he also has to meet a certain number of conditions.

Once you have got your driver's license, you can apply for it at the municipality where you live.

Inge

written by Inge

My love for exploring new cities has grown since I live near Eindhoven’s city center. Hopefully, I can share some valuable content with you to help you feel at home in your city as well!