Driving with a foreign driver’s license
Have you moved to the Netherlands as an expat and you want to use a foreign driver’s license? Then there are a number of points you need to pay attention to in order to regulate the validity of your driving license in the right way. Different rules apply for drivers who are not from the EU, EEA or Switzerland. In this blog we provide you with more information on how to exchange a foreign driving license for a Dutch one. You can also read about the separate rules for mopeds. Finally, you can read a handy overview of the most important traffic rules in the Netherlands.
Can you drive in the Netherlands with a driving license issued outside the EEA, EU or Switzerland?
Do you have a driving license issued in a country outside the EU, EEA or Switzerland? If so, you can simply drive with it when you come to the Netherlands for a vacation or to work here. When you actually come to live in the Netherlands, it is important to know that you can continue to use the driver’s license for a maximum of 185 days. If this deadline has passed, you should exchange the driving license from outside the EU, EEA or Switzerland for a Dutch driving license. You can apply for a Dutch driving license at the municipality where you live. You can only do this after you have arranged for the registration in the Population Register Persons (BRP) for yourself. If you are still using a foreign driver’s license after 185 days, you could get a big fine. So make sure you arrange this in time to continue using your car.
What about a driving license from the EU, EEA, or Switzerland?
Are you coming to work in the Netherlands as a highly skilled migrant and you are originally from the EU, EEA, or Switzerland? Then there is no problem at all in continuing to use your own driver’s license in the Netherlands. The Netherlands approves all driver’s licenses from the EU, EEA, and Switzerland, even if you come to live here. You don’t necessarily have to apply for a Dutch driving license. However, if you want to settle in the Netherlands for the long term, it will be more convenient to apply for one in the end but it is not mandatory to exchange your driving license for a Dutch one. So, you can decide on this yourself. If you eventually want to apply for Dutch citizenship, it is also nice to have a Dutch driving license.
How can you exchange a foreign driving license for a Dutch one?
If you have a foreign driver’s license but live in The Netherlands, it is allowed to temporarily continue using your own driver’s license at first. After a while you should exchange the foreign license for a Dutch one. You can do this by making an appointment with the municipality where you live. Please note: that you can only exchange a foreign driving license for a Dutch one if you are registered in the Basic Registration of Persons (BRP) and if you have a valid residence or identity document. If you are working in The Netherlands as a highly skilled migrant, you are eligible to exchange your driving license for a Dutch driving license. Furthermore, the driving license you currently have must be valid and not expired.
You can choose to exchange your foreign driving license for a Dutch one if you have moved to The Netherlands as an expat and thus as a highly skilled migrant. You start the process by applying for a Beschikking Bewijsregel (special declaration). You can do this through the Tax Administration. You can ask your employer for help, as they can prove that you are working for them as a highly skilled migrant. Please note: that during the process of exchanging your driver’s license, you are not allowed to use the public roads. If you do, you risk a nasty fine. If you are checked by the police in the Netherlands while driving a car, you must always be able to present your valid driving license.
Do separate rules apply to a moped license?
Did you know that there are different rules for driving mopeds in the Netherlands? If you are originally from an EU, EEA, or Switzerland country, you can ride a moped without an AM driving license. The license you received in the EU or EEA country, or Switzerland is sufficient to use in the Netherlands for driving mopeds. Do you come from a country outside the EU, EEA, or Switzerland? Then it is permitted to temporarily use the moped without a driving license. If you have come to the Netherlands as an expat and therefore as a highly skilled migrant, you should exchange your driving license for a Dutch driving license. With the Dutch driving license, you can then use the moped without any problems.
What are the most important Dutch traffic rules?
If you are moving to the Netherlands as an expat, it is important to know that driving safely in this country is high on the priority list. Anything that puts yourself or other road users at risk in the Netherlands is prohibited. For example, you are not allowed to drive vehicles if you are under the influence of substances such as alcohol and drugs. These vehicles include all vehicles that you are required to drive, so cars, mopeds, motorcycles and even bicycles may not be used if you are under the influence. The maximum allowed level of alcohol in your blood is 0.5 BAC for experienced drivers and 0.2 BAC for novice drivers.
The police have special tests, which can show whether you are under the influence behind the wheel. The use of medications that have a negative impact on your ability to react is also prohibited while driving the car. Do you use certain medication? Then you can see on the packaging whether you can drive with it, you can also ask your doctor or pharmacy. It is also prohibited for drivers to use or operate electrical devices such as smartphones while driving. You are also not allowed to put the phone between your shoulder and ear while driving, always choose hands-free calling in the car. You may use your smartphone when the car is stationary. In the Netherlands, cars drive on the right and overtake other vehicles on the left.
Furthermore, you can find a lot of information online about rules of the road, how the traffic circle works, how you can safely overtake other vehicles, what zipping means, where you can stop and park and much more. If you are unsure whether you know all the Dutch traffic rules, you can take an English theory exam or follow a course to refresh the rules for yourself. In the Netherlands there may be different speed limits than in your home country, so keep an eye on this as well. Moreover, you will come a long way by using your common sense. In any case, try to always avoid dangerous situations!