There are at least four options to acquire a motor vehicle (car or motor vehicle):

  • Importing along your own car into the Netherlands as part of moving inventory,
  • Buying a car in the Netherlands,
  • Importing a car from outside the Netherlands (not part of removal goods),
  • Sharing a car with others.

Importing your own car in conjunction with relocation

The cost-rising vehicle tax (BPM) gives rise to consider taking your car along as part of your household goods. Although this is a way of importing a car, BPM and  - if applicable -  import duties can be exempted in this case.

A number of steps have to be addressed:

  1. Vehicle tax declaration
  2. Applying for temporary exemption for BPM
  3. Registration for Dutch number plate
  4. Arranging final exemption for BPM. 

Note in advance that, essentially, the Dutch government is focused on collecting taxes rather than to getting you motor vehicle officially registered in the Netherlands.

1. Vehicle Tax Declaration

As of the official move to the Netherlands, i.e. the day of your registration in the Personal Records Database, you have to pay vehicle (or road) tax (Motorrijtuigenbelasting) for your motor vehicle.  Since your car is still registered outside the Netherlands, the Tax Authority requires you to fill in a corresponding form Motorijtuigenbelasting, Motorijtuig met buitenlands kenteken (Motor vehicle tax, motor vehicle with foreign number plate); unfortunately only in Dutch.

2. Applying Temporary Exemption BPM

As a rule, any motor vehicle on the Dutch road (those with foreign registration included) is taxable for BPM. Together with the vehicle tax declaration, you have to arrange a temporary exemption for BPM. Coming from the EU you can apply for a temporary exemption yourself, if not you have to involve a moving company or a freight forwarder; only they can arrange that for you (Declaration with Customs).

Whether BPM for your imported vehicle is eligible for exemption depends on a number of requirements. It is exempted only if:

  • the car has been purchased at least 6 months before the date of your registration in the Personal Records Database.
  • before your move, you have lived for at least 12 months outside the Netherlands

For further details and the application form for BPM exemption see the Tax Authority’s website “Exemption for removal goods”. The form itself  – unfortunately – is only in Dutch.

You are allowed to keep on driving your car on Dutch roads, only if you have a copy of the Application for Exemption available in the car. For the police, it acts as proof of fulfilling tax obligations.

After a couple of days you will receive the Tax Authority’s decision (Beschikking) regarding the BPM exemption.

Similar to  importing  any other good, cars from outside the EU often carry import duties. However, if you meet the BPM-exemption conditions, this will also entitle you to avoid import duties.

3. Registration for Dutch license plates

Registration of your vehicle at RWD and thus obtaining Dutch license plates is not compulsory.

If you keep your foreign registration (license plates), you will pay vehicle tax twice: the Dutch one and that of the country of official registration. In the case of a stay not longer than 12 months, you might keep your foreign registration (number plate), otherwise you better register your vehicle in the Netherlands.  The reason is BPM , see next section.

You register your vehicle at RDW, taking the following steps :

Step 1. After having received the Tax Authority’s decision (Beschikking) regarding BPM exemption (and possibly import duties) you can start registering  your car in the Netherlands.

Step 2. Your car needs inspection and approval at a RDW-inspection station.

The nearest to the Leiden area is in
City: 2741 PL Waddinxveen,
Address: Coenecoop 290
Telephone: 0900 0739

Step 3. For non-EU cars you need more documents than for EU-cars, and in addition possibly a technical test at the RDW test centre.

Step 4. RDW will provide the Dutch certificates, which prove ownership …..

Step 5. Buy number plates at a recognized (commercial) number plate manufacturer.

See for more details RDW.

4. Arranging final exemption for BPM

Within a period of 12 months after your registration in the Personal Records Database, you can arrange final exemption for BPM; with or without choosing for a Dutch number plate. Exceeding that period one has to pay BPM. 

The requirements are to be found under File a declaration for BPM. Although the declaration process leads to a calculated BPM-amount, that amount will not be charged, provided you have been granted a positive decision regarding BPM exemption.

However, due to the numerous administrative steps to get your car financially and legally on the Dutch road, it is worth it to consider involving experts. They can also discuss the option of keeping your foreign registration. Relocation service companies could assist you.

Buying a car in the Netherlands

The process of buying a car in the Netherlands, essentially, is not different to other places. Official brand dealers, offer new and young used cars, whereas non-official dealers and private persons offer (only) 2nd hand cars.

For incoming internationals one of the advantages of addressing car dealers lies in the fact that they take the administrative burden of registering and paying the (once-only) BPM. Would you nevertheless like to try the private used car market, then internet platforms like, Autoscout24.nl, Gaspedaal.nl, Marktplaats.nl (all in Dutch) are a good start.

Note, that a little bit of bargaining in the market for used as well as new cars is rather common in this country.

Importing a car (not part of removal goods)

Due to the (once-only) BMP, quite a number of Dutchmen import (new or used) cars from other European countries. So can you.

The administrative procedure for “normal” imports  is more expanded than for importing in conjunction with relocation (see above). Apart from the mandatory Dutch registration formalities (see above), car import is confronted with a mixture of different taxes to be paid: certainly BPM, possibly VAT (value added tax) and/or import taxes. This depends on the origin of the car (EU, Non-EU)  and its status (new or used). See  RDW.

Whether this is a cost-efficient option, can roughly be calculated in advance. Due to the complexity however, it is advisable to consult companies that offer (car) import services, as well as relocation companies.

Car Sharing

Sharing a car rather than owning it is becoming increasingly  popular, and there are a number of options in Leiden. For example: