If you find that you are confused by the Dutch laws for obtaining a driving licence, you are not alone. The system can even be confusing to those who administer it.
Who must have a driver's licence?
Everyone who lives in the Netherlands and intends to drive a motor vehicle must possess a valid driving licence.
You are considered a resident of the Netherlands if your 'usual address' is in this country. 'Usual address' is defined as the address where you spend at least 185 days a year.
You must be 18 years or older to drive a car in the Netherlands. You must be at least 16 to drive a moped.
Do I need a Dutch driving licence?
If you have a valid driving licence from certain countries you are allowed to drive on the strength of that licence for a certain period of time. The length of this time depends on which country issued the licence.
It should also be noted that every step of the process costs money.
A driving licence that has been issued by an EU member country or Switzerland remains valid for up to 10 years when you move to the Netherlands. You may exchange your foreign driving licence for a Dutch one within this 10 year period.
Are there more than 10 years between the date your foreign driving licence was issued and the date you moved to the Netherlands? And is your driving licence still valid? Then you may continue driving with your foreign driving licence for the first year after you have moved to the Netherlands. After that, you will have to apply for a Dutch driving licence if you want to continue driving a motor vehicle.
A driving licence that was issued outside the EU or Switzerland has limited validity in the Netherlands. When you move to the Netherlands, you may use this driving licence for the first 185 days only. In some case, you will be able to exchange your foreign driving licence for a Dutch one. To do so, submit an application with the municipality. You can also obtain a Dutch driving licence, for which you will have to pass a theory and practical driving test.
In the ACCESS guide 'Your First three Months in the Netherlands', you may find useful information regarding which persons should trade or not their existing driving licence for a Dutch one, how to obtain a valid Dutch licence and driving lessons.
For further general information about driving licences, trade-in and regsitration, please refer also to RDW (Rijksdienst voor het Wegverkeer) www.rdw.nl , which is the organisation responsible for the registration of vehicules and driving licences.