The validity of your driving license in the Netherlands
Are you a new expat in the Netherlands? It’s great to know in advance if you can drive to work or get around with a car. But is your driving license valid here? This really depends on the date you acquired your license, the country you come from, or if you are a highly skilled migrant.
After you have relocated here, you can continue to use your driving license for a certain period. The length of this period depends on the country where you obtained your driving license and is between 6 months to 15 years. After this period, you must have a Dutch driving license or rijbewijs. You can obtain this by exchanging your foreign driving license, or by taking a driving test or rijexamen.
Do you have an EU/EEA driving license and do you want to drive in the Netherlands?
Your driving license was issued before January 19, 2013 -> you can drive with your license for 10 years after it was issued.
Your driving license was issued after January 19, 2013 -> you can drive with your license for another 15 years in the Netherlands, if your driving license is still valid.
After your driving license is no longer valid in the Netherlands, you can apply for a Dutch driving license.
Do you have a non-EU/EEA driving license and do you want to drive in the Netherlands?
If you have a driving license, it is valid for 6 months or 185 days, from the day you register at your local municipality. After this period, you must obtain a Dutch driving license. Make sure you do this within 185 days, otherwise you must take a standard theory and practical driving test.
What are the conditions for exchanging your foreign driving license for a Dutch one?
- You are an EU/EEA or Switzerland resident, or you come from a country where a special driving license agreement applies, or you make use of the 30% ruling (read below).
- Your non-EU/EEA driving license is still valid at the time of application, otherwise it may only be exchanged if the driving authority where you obtained your driving license gives permission for this.
- You are a resident of the Netherlands (registered) and you have a valid residence permit.
- You have lived in the country where you obtained your driving license for at least 185 days.
Please note: You are not allowed to drive on public roads while exchanging your driving license. If you do, you risk a fine. You must be able to show your driving license during a check.
You can take the public transport, call a taxi, take an Uber or other car services.
Exception for expats
Are you an expat in the Netherlands and are you subject to the 30% ruling of the Dutch Tax and Customs Administration or Belastingdienst? You can exchange your driving license for a Dutch one, regardless of which country you come from, provided your license is still valid.
To apply for a Dutch driving license, you need a ‘decision of proof rule’ (statement) from the tax authorities. You apply this with your employer.
How do you exchange your foreign driving license for a Dutch one?
You can request the exchange from the municipality where you are registered. They will forward your application to the ADW. When applying, you will need the following:
- Valid proof of identification (your passport)
- Your foreign driving license
- A passport photo that meets the official requirements
- In some cases, a Certificate of Fitness
- If you have lost your driving license or if it has been stolen, you need an official report or Declaration of Loss of Driving License
What if it is not possible to exchange your foreign driving license for a Dutch one?
In the event that you do not meet the conditions, you must take a theory and practical exams at the CBR.
You have an option to take the theory exam in English or Dutch at the exam centers across the Netherlands. You must make an appointment at the CBR, for which you need a DigiD. Read here how to apply for your DigiD.
- The test lasts for 45 minutes
- 25 questions hazard understanding – is about recognizing hazards and what to do in a situation
- 30 questions traffic knowledge – here you show that you can recognize and name facts and rules
- 10 questions traffic understanding – here you show that you can apply rules and make right decisions
During the practical exam, your driving skills will be tested by an examiner. You cannot apply for this exam yourself. Your driving school will arrange this for you.
The exam takes approximately 35 minutes. You will partly drive independently to a certain destination using the navigation system. Your examiner tests whether you can drive safely and independently. You will be tested such as controlling of the car, viewing behavior, and giving priority.
Did you pass? Congratulations! You can apply for your driving license at your municipality the day after your exam.
Are you not sure whether your driving license is valid in the Netherlands, or do you more questions about your license?
Contact us! You can also message TOSS for other questions about settling in the Netherlands.