The Dutch driving licence for expats and immigrants | All you have to know
The Dutch driving licence is one of the most universally accepted driving licences thanks to the Netherlands being part of the European Union.
However it is also among the most difficult to obtain.
An exact testing process combined with solid infrastructure means that Dutch roads are some of the safest in the world.
Did you know expats and immigrants?
If you are from outside the EU your existing driver’s licence is only valid for a period of 6 months. After this period you are not permitted to drive, unless you are willing to risk high traffic fines.
A Dutch driving licence is a high quality driving licence that gives you access to all rental companies and it gives you access to foreign roads worldwide.
Besides this is a Dutch driving license also indirectly a small and convenient identity card in The Nethlands.
For all expats and immigrants outside the EU
- Register at a reputable driving school
Register at a driving school which has a high success rate. A very important fact is that they have classified English teachers who can teach you along the way to get your Dutch driving license. For example driving school LesDirect.nl is well know for its highly educated and friendly English instructors and corresponding success rates and has a special Arrive & Drive program for expats en immigrants, when you need your official Dutch drivers license fast.
Your driving school will normally be your primary contact for all procedures that involve the CBR (‘Centraal Bureau Rijvaardigsheidbewijzen‘ in Dutch) which is the organization responsible for conducting driving tests.
Once you have registered with a school, you can select together a date for your theory exam and after that your practical exam. You need to pass the theory exam too, before you actually will get your Dutch driving license.
Your driving school will book you immediately a date and centre for the theory test on the CBR website, since the waiting times can be rather long. You will need a valid DigiD (Dutch digital identity) to be able to make these CBR appointments.
Meanwhile you start your theory preparation. The good part is that you can start your practical lessons alongside your theory test preparation.
- Fastest theory preparation | a theory crash course
Theory College Netherlands provides good online theory crash courses to pass your theory exam fast and easy. But you are free to choose your theoretical training institute or maybe a 'do-it-yourself' programme. However make sure they have UK teachers. That makes a huge difference in training quality.
About Theory College Netherlands
This is the online theory crash course for which you’ll pass the CBR theoretical exam within 24 hours. Also will the studied knowledge be memorised and retained. Even after your exam!
Theory College Netherlands works in co-operation with the renowned driving school LesDirect in the Eindhoven region; they organise weekly so called Arrive & Drive sessions to get your Dutch drivers license accelerated in one week.
It doesn't matter where you're from. See also here a very intersting article: The best Dutch drivers license advice for expats you ever get.
Online theory classroom
But how? At most theory crash courses you’ll forget 80% of the studied knowledge you’ve learnt in one day. At Theory College Netherlands you start practising and repeating most of the study material two weeks prior the start of the day course via your own online access. For example traffic signs and regulations.
You’ll receive a login code on which you can log on into our online theory practise classroom free of costs. This will all happen in a relaxed manner on your smartphone, laptop, or tablet where and when it suits you.
Effective and vivid learning technique
At Theory College Netherlands they apply a proven effective and vivid learning technique during the online theory crash course. Their trainers are even certified educators to people who suffer from fear of failure, autism/ADHD and dyslexia.
Through their personal, accessible approach they ensure a relaxed, informal atmosphere during the courses. A week after everyone heads off well rested to the CBR exam centre.
Read here more about the Online TCN CBR theory training program!
With this approach you’ll learn all the study material much easier and it will also be memorised better after the online course of two dayparts. In addition to this you already have most important theory knowledge prior the start of the online course.
Spectacular Fun Course
In order to memorise the theoretical material even better you’ll have a 3 weeks extra access to the material on their website after the crash course. Without any engagement you can even do a complete theory exam on that site.
If you pass the theory exam you’ll get a substantial discount on a spectacular fun course like a skid course or Car in Water course. If you do the exam flawless you’ll receive the course of your choice for free!
Advantages of Theory College Netherlands
- Your ONLINE CBR theory crash course in 1 day ór 2 half-days
- Theory success guaranteed
- Qualified and pleasant UK trainers for among others expats
- Over 17 years of lesson- and practical experience
- Unique online study method to maintain knowledge
- Also suitable for students with Dyslexia
- Highest success rates!
100% pass is guaranteed!
Because of Theory College Netherland’s unique method, you’ll pass your theory test fast and the studied theoretical knowledge will effectively be memorised for your practical exam and even more important: during a safe driving career. This is very relevant considering the theory is 50 % of your driver’s licence!
By the way, we guarantee success! Students who exceptionally haven’t passed the exam for various reasons, are invited to retake the theory course for free.
The Online Theory Crash Course itself
On the two dayparts of the Online Theory crash course you’ll be online present 15 minutes before, where your experienced UK teacher is awaiting you. The program and material is given in English naturally. You do not need anything other than your own laptop, tablet or, in extreme cases, your phone. And of course a notepad with a nice glass of water, coffee or tea.
Rest and nutrition
Students who haven’t passed the exam for various reasons, they invite to retake the theory course with them for free.
See on this page the costs of the Online Theory College Netherlands course.
At Theory College Netherlands you can choose to do a:
- Regular theoretical exam (even in the evening when needed)
- Theoretical exam with extended time; at an additional small fee. When you are dyslectic and you have an official dyslexia declaration you can reclaim the additional costs of the exam.
- Individually guided exam (without an interpreter) when you have done a theoretical exam including extra time before. This will be at additional cost.
What can you expect after arriving at the CBR exam centre?
The week after you had your online theoretical fast track course you head off to the CBR exam centre well rested.
Sign up here to the Theory College Netherlands online crash course!
Other locations in the Netherlands are also available on request. Please make your interest known in your registration.
Theory book; traffic regulations
The theory test
The test has two sections ; traffic rules and hazard perception.
In section 1 you must get at least 35/40 questions correct and in part 2 you must get at least 13/25 correct. This may sound easier than it is, especially in part 2 where you will have 8 seconds to make a decision (brake, release the throttle or do nothing) about the displayed traffic situation.
All questions, have a time limit. Some of them will require you to the rank the priority of road users at a junction.
Practical car driving lessons
Once you’ve passed your theory test you only have to finish your practical lessons and select a date for your practical CBR test. Your driving school will book a date for you.
Depending on your driving experience the driving school will recommend you a maximum of lessons to prepare you for the practical CBR driving exam.
Practical car driving exam
The pass rate for the Dutch practical test on the first attempt is about 50% so it would be wise to choose a driving school with a high success rate.
Read here more for the only Expat and Immigrants driving school in the Netherlands: LesDirect!
However, as opposed to many other countries, the instructions are provided in advance clearly and there is leeway provided for minor errors . You can choose to have your driving instructor in the car with you during your driving exam. This might be useful to go over your mistakes afterwards if you did not pass.
Apply for a Dutch Driving licence
The last step you need to take to own your Dutch driving license is to go the municipality that you are registered at with your residence card and photos that fit the specifications.
They will send your new licence to your registered address. This process usually takes place within a week.
If you’re travelling outside the EU, you might need to apply for an international licence as well.
Fortunately, this can be done also in a matter of minutes at your local 'ANWB' store.
Forgein driving licences in the Netherlands
New expats can continue to use their foreign driving licence for a certain period after they arrive in the Netherlands. The length of a foreign driving license validity can vary from six months up to 15 years, depending on the country of issue.
Do you have a driving licence that was issued in one of the countries of the European Union (EU) or European Free Trade Association (EFTA) and are you registered in the Netherlands? If so, you can continue to drive on this licence in the Netherlands for 15 years (from the date of issue of the foreign driving licence).
Do you have a valid driving licence that was issued in a country that is not an EU/EFTA member state, you can continue to use it for 185 days after registering in the Netherlands (in the Basic Register of Persons). After this period, you may only drive in the Netherlands with a Dutch driving licence.
Expats, immigrants and driving licences
If you are planning to stay in the Netherlands for a longer period of time, it may be useful exchanging your foreign driving licence for a Dutch driving licence.
Citizens of most European countries can normally continue to use their license from their home country until it expires.
Most non-European expats who plan to stay for longer than six months, will need to exchange their licence within that first six month period.
Using a foreign driving license in the Netherlands
There are different lengths of validity in the Netherlands for driving licences issued to citizens of the EU/EEA or for citizens from outside Europe.
If you have a EU/EEA driving license
If you are an EU/EEA citizen and your license was issued before January 19, 2013, then you can drive on that license for 10 years after being issued.
If your license is already over nine years old, you may continue to drive with it for another two years, from the date of your registration with your municipality; for as long as it is valid.
For EU/EEA licenses issued after January 19, 2013, holders can drive for up to 15 years, as long as the license is valid.
Once the validity of the original license ends, the holder will need to apply for a Dutch driving license.
If you have a non-EU/EAA driving license
For citizens of all countries outside the EU/EEA (including the Dutch Antilles and Aruba), licences are valid for six months from the date you register at your local municipality. After that, you need to get a Dutch driving license.
If you apply for a Dutch driving licence after the six month period then you will need to take the Dutch driving exams.
What are the conditions for exchanging a foreign driving licence in the Netherlands?
In order to exchange a foreign driving licence for a Dutch driving license, applicants will need to meet these conditions:
- You are a registered resident of the Netherlands with a valid residence permit (if applicable)
- You are a citizen of the EU/EEA or Switzerland; or you are from a country with a special drivers licence agreement, or you benefit from the 30% ruling
- At the time of the application your non-EU/EEA driving licence is valid
- If your EU/EEA licence is expired, it may be exchanged (As long as you have a declaration from the agency in the country where the driving licence was issued in which they state they have no objection with your being issued a Dutch driving license)
- You obtained your current driving license while being a resident of that country for at least half a year. Evidence for this can be copies from your passport , airplane tickets, or salary / tax documents.
Countries with special licence exchange agreements
Countries that have special agreements with the Netherlands to exchange licences are listed below.
Licences can only be exchanged if they are valid for the following stated categories:
- Taiwan, Israel: category B, passenger vehicle
- Japan: category IB, passenger vehicle and motorcycle in excess of 400 cm3
- Singapore: Class 2, motorcycle in excess of 400 cm3; and Class 3, passenger vehicle
- South Korea: second class ordinary licence
- Canada, only province of Quebec or Alberta: Class 5
- Andorra, Aruba, Jersey, Isle of Man, Monaco, Dutch Antilles: all categories
If you have previously had a Dutch driving license (valid after June 30, 1985) you only need to prove the conditions for the categories you did not have on your previous driving licence.
If you do not meet any of these conditions above, you can’t exchange your licence for a Dutch one. You will, therefore, need to take a theory and practical test (see below). If you are unsure whether you meet the conditions, check with your municipality.
Japanese driving licence
Quebec driver's licence, every Canadian provence has its own license
Road signs in different countries
Dutch driving organizations
There are two organisations in the Netherlands that are responsible for issuing driving licences and conducting driving tests:
RDW (Rijksdienst voor het Wegverkeer) - Road Transportation Authority
The RDW (in English) issues driving licences and supervises registration such as licence plates and also monitors the technical condition of motor vehicles.
CBR (Centraal Bureau Rijvaardigheid) - Central Office of Driving Certification
The CBR is responsible for conducting driving exams for all motor vehicles including cars, scooters, motorbikes and trucks.
How do I exchange my foreign driving licence?
To exchange your foreign driving licence for a Dutch driving licence, you will need to apply at the municipality where you are registered. They will send your exchange application to the RDW.
The process of appraisal takes +/- two weeks and applicants are not permitted to drive while their application is being processed.
For the application, you will need valid identity documents such as a passport, your driving licence, your BSN (Burger Service Nummer) and a passport photo.
Certificate of fitness (VVG)
You may be asked for a “certificate of fitness” or VVG (verklaring van geschiktheid) to prove you are physically and psychologically able and fit to drive a vehicle.
You can get the VVG form your municipality, at “Mijn CBR” (log in with your DigiD) or you can get it from certain expat centres.
A VVG is needed if:
- You have a EU/EEA or Swiss driving licence with categories C, CE, C1, D etc.
- You have a driving licence from the Dutch Antilles or Aruba.
- You benefit from the 30% tax ruling.
- Your driving licence is from one of the countries which has a special agreement.
- Your EU/EEA licence is valid for a shorter period than usual in the country of issue or has restrictive annotations which are not designated within EU codes.
- You are 75 years or older.
After you have submitted your form to the CBR, they will notify you when your VVG has been registered and they will also let you know if you need to have an additional health check. After this, you can apply to exchange your driving licence.
If the application is successful, you will receive your new Dutch driving licence (within a maximum three weeks). Please note that this procedure is far more complex for heavy duty and commercial licences.
30% ruling and the Dutch driving licence
You can also exchange your driving licence for a Dutch one if you are eligible for the 30% ruling, regardless your country of origin.
In this case, you should follow the above procedure, but also submit your 30% ruling statement issued by the Dutch tax office (Belastingdienst) to your municipality.
Driving tests in the Netherlands
Internationals who are unable to exchange their foreign driving licence for a Dutch one will have to take a driving test at the CBR, with both theoretical and practical sections.
Also, if you are learning to drive a car for the first time then you can both take driving lessons and do the exams in the Netherlands.
The process for learning to drive and applying for a licence is as follows:
- First, check with your municipality if you are eligible for a driving licence.
- Select a driving school for practical and theory lessons (optional) that has professional UK/international instructors.
- Request a theory exam with the CBR (available in English).
- Do the theory exam
- Complete a health statement (the so called 'eigen verklaring').
- Request a practical exam with the CBR (via your driving school).
- Do the practical exam
- Provide your certificate to your municipality to collect your driver’s licence.
The driving theory exam in the Netherlands
Theory tests are administrated in Dutch and English (small additional costs for English). The Netherands has 20 CBR theory examination centres all over the country (See below).
The test takes 45 minutes. 25 Questions are asked concerning hazard recognition, 30 questions concerning traffic rules and 10 questions about understanding of traffic.
You need to be at least 16 years of age to take this test and you will need to pass it in order to take a practical test.
Take always a theory course at a driving school that has trained UK or international teachers, although this is not required. You can also study the theory yourself with a theory book, available from (online) bookstores, or your driving school.
Booking a date for your Dutch driving theory exam
Ask your driving school tot do this for you.
Ik you want to do this yourself, that's possible. To book a date for your theory exam, log in at Mijn CBR with your DigiD and:
- Choose "Theorie-examen reserveren"
- Choose the vehicle, time, place and language for your test
- Pay via iDEAL
You will receive your confirmation by email. Make sure you have proper and valid identification (such as a passport) and are registered with your municipality before you book a date. If you need to change the date, you can also do this at “Mijn CBR”.
Before you take your practical examination, you will need to purchase and fill in an” eigen verklaring” (a self- declaration), which you can find at “Mijn CBR”. This is to determine if you are healthy enough to do a practical exam.
Here you find all CBR theoretical centres across the Netherlands.
The practical driving exam in the Netherlands
The practical examination takes 55 minutes at one of the practical exam centres (see below) across the Netherlands. Only suited practical driving schools are able to book you a practical exam, so you will need to find your own driving school and arrange it with them.
The exam can be conducted in any language, and your driving school should be able to help you if you need an interpreter. You must take this test within 18 months after passing your theory test. You need to be at least 17 years old.
Documents necessary for the practical exam:
- Valid identification (ID or passport)
- Theory exam certificate
- VVG (if necessary)
- Official notification of appointment letter
- Zelfreflectie (self-reflection) form, which you will review with your examiner after the exam.
Here you find all CBR practical centres across the Netherlands.
Anxiety, fear or failure
If you are extremely anxious about taking exams, it is possible to request a “fear of failure exam” ( faalangstexamen). This is a longer exam with an examiner who is specially trained in helping and guiding people with anxiety.
There are also specialised driving schools like LesDirect.nl that have special instructors that can handle, anxiety, fear, failure, autism, ADHD or other concentration disorders perfectly during practical driving lessons.
If you succeed you will immediately receive a certificate of competence (Verklaring van rijvaardigheid) and a certificate of fitness (Verklaring van geschiktheid). Once you take them to your municipality, you will receive your new driving licence within five days.
Renewing a Dutch driving licence
Just like most EU driving licences, a Dutch driving licence is valid for 10 years from the date of issue and should be renewed before it expires. Before your Dutch licence expires the RDW will send a reminder to your home address. All you need to do then is go to your municipality.
Your driving licence has expired if one or more of the categories listed on the back of your licence is no longer valid. You can simply renew the licence at your municipality.
Renewing a foreign driving licence in the Netherlands
For expats living in the Netherlands it is not possible to renew a foreign or EU/EAA driver’s licence. You will need to apply to the RDW for a Dutch driving licence.
Lost or stolen driving licence
If your Dutch or EU/EEA driving licence is lost or stolen you must file a police declaration with the municipality where you are registered to receive a new one.
For a lost EU/EEA licence you will need to provide extra documentation.
If your non-EU/EEA driving licence is lost or stolen in the Netherlands then you will need to complete the Dutch driving exams successfully to receive a new Dutch driving licence.
More information about driving in the Netherlands
RDW | The Government Road Transport Agency (Rijksdienst voor het Wegverkeer). RDW is always available to answer questions over the phone relating to the exchange of driving licences in English, Dutch and German: 0900-0739.
The RDW also hosts a comprehensive FAQ in English regarding the validity of your driving licence and the procedures for exchanging it for a Dutch licence.
CBR | Central Office for Motor Vehicle Driver Testing (Centraal Bureau van Rijvaardigheid)
ANWB | The Dutch Wheelers Bond
Rijbewijs | General information about driving (info in Dutch and English)
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