Drivers License

As in any country, you need a valid driving license which allows you to drive a car (motorbike etc.) in the Netherlands. In the majority of foreign driving licenses the owner needs to take a theory and practical driving test for attaining  a valid (i.e. Dutch)  driving license. European driving licenses and some others, however, can mostly be exchanged.   

Next to issuing and validating documents which are necessary to drive a vehicle, The Netherlands Vehicle Authority (Rijksdienst voor het Wegverkeer, RDW), also organizes driving license matters (for detailed information consult RDW).   

Car stereo

Is your valid foreign driving license, valid in the Netherlands?

Driving with a valid foreign driving license is conditionally allowed; half a year, but not longer than 15 years, depending on your situation. After these periods, one has to obtain a Dutch driving license, either through exchanging the foreign licence or attaining (passing tests etc.) a Dutch one.   

Four groups of (holders of a foreign) driving licence(s) can be distinguished:

Procedure of exchanging a valid foreign driving license for a Dutch driving licence

Foreign driving licenses issued in one of the countries of the EEA and the “treaty” countries and those owned by 30%-tax-facility holders can - and ultimately have to - be exchanged for a Dutch driving license.   

Bear in mind, that a Dutch driving license acts as valid identity paper in the Netherlands. Furthermore,   

note that international driving licenses are just legalized translations of a national license. They are not accepted for conversion purpose into a Dutch driving license.   

For exchanging your foreign driving license for a Dutch driving license, you turn to the municipality where you are registered.   

Step 1

Depending on the prevailing situation, the following documents should be at hand   

Overview Documents Needed for Exchange 

EEA-countries 

Treaty countries 

30%-tax facility 

The original valid driving license 

Identification document 

Recent photograph 

Certificate of Fitness; for EEA-applicants only in case of (driving) restrictions  

(*) 

Permit 

  

A copy of the 30%-tax-facility 

  

  

Translation if driving license is composed in script unusual to the Netherlands 

The original (valid) driving license must be handed in. It will be returned to the embassy or country of origin of the license. As of that moment you are not allowed to drive a motor vehicle until you will have received the Dutch driving license.   

All applicants, except from the EEA-countries, have to prove being physically and/or mentally sufficiently healthy to drive a vehicle. In other words, you need a so-called Certificate of Fitness (Verklaring van Geschiktheid, VvG). This VvG can be obtained at the Central Office for Motor Vehicle Driver Testing (Centraal Bureau Rijvaardigheidsbewijzen, CBR). This certificate (at CBR called: Health Certificate) can be obtained by digitally filling in a document);  in English is possible. 

However, even for the EEA-driving licenses such a proof might be required; that is, if the validity period of your driving licence is shorter than the common validity period in the issuing country, and if your driving licence has annotations that are not recognized within the EU (except for lenses, glasses or an automatic vehicle).   

In addition to the Certificate of Fitness/Health Certificate, a complementary medical examination is required in the case, for instance, of advanced age (+75) or medical restrictions. It is advisable then to, first, consult either CBR or your municipality in order to arrange concerning documents.  Note that under these circumstances, CBR might need more than a month issuing the (final) Health Certificate, which requires to start timely.   

Applicants outside the EEA and Switzerland submit a permit: either a Residence or an Employment permit.   

If applicable, provide a copy of the document that attests the 30% (tax) facility for incoming employees, issued by the Dutch tax authority.   

If a driving license was composed in script unusual to the Netherlands (for example Japanese or Greek), a translation of the concerning driving license is needed, issued by a certified translator, the embassy or consulate.   

Step 2

Make an appointment with your municipality. At the office you will hand in the necessary documents, fill in and sign the form. The municipality will forward your application (and all documents provided) to RDW.   

Step 3

If and when RDW approves the application, you will be notified within 10 days when you can pick up your new driving license. Realize that the entire procedure may take 1 to 2 weeks, in which you are not allowed to drive, because of not having and thus not being able to show a driving license.   

A Dutch driving license – generally speaking  – is valid 10 years.    

If more details are required, you might consult the RDW document : User manual ‘Application for the exchange of a foreign driving licence for a Dutch driving licence’ (3 E 0397)   

Attaining a Dutch Driving License

If it is not possible for you to exchange your foreign driving license for a Dutch one, you have to follow the standard procedure of attaining a driving licence. This includes a check of the applicant’s ability to drive and a theory and practical driving test at CBR.  Lessons at a(n official) driving school should be taken. Instructors help you to decide when to go for a theory exam and subsequently for a practical driving exam, both at CBR. The theory exam can be taken in English. Mind, that the official application for the practical test is always done by the school.   

After passing the practical exam, you apply for the official driving licence (the document) at your municipality. Only after having collected your license you are allowed to drive.  

Expired Driving Licence

In the case your foreign driving licence has (recently) expired, please turn to your municipality for further information about possibilities of exchange.  

More in Motor Vehicles and Driving License