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Driving in the Netherlands with a foreign license

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Driving in the Netherlands with a foreign license

On March 25, 2019 by Dutch Umbrella Company

You already found a challenging job and a nice place to live within driving distance of your workplace. But can you still use your current driving license now you have moved to the Netherlands? We will explain all to know about the use of your foreign driving license during your stay in the Netherlands.

Expats and driving licenses

New expats can continue to use their foreign driving license if they live in the Netherlands, for the period your license is still valid. This period of license validity varies from country to country. Check your own driving license for the validity period and date.

Using a foreign driving license in the Netherlands issued to citizens of the EU/EFTA

Is your foreign driving license issued by a country of the EU/EFTA or Switzerland, Norway, Liechtenstein or Iceland before 19 January 2013? In this case, you will be able to use it for as long as it remains valid, with a maximum of 10 years after issuing. Is your foreign driving license issued over 9 years ago by the time you became a resident in the Netherlands? In this case, you may continue driving with it for up to 2 years, from the date of your registration in your municipality. If your driving license was issued after 19 January 2013, you may use it to drive in the Netherlands until it expires, with a maximum of 15 years.

Once the validity of the original foreign driving license ends, you need to apply for a Dutch driving license. How to apply for a Dutch driving license will be explained later in this blog.

Using a foreign driving license in the Netherlands issued to non-EU/EFTA citizens

Is your foreign driving license issued by a country outside the EU/EFTA, Switzerland, Norway, Liechtenstein or Iceland? Then you will be able to use it for six months from the date you are becoming a resident in the Netherlands. In other words: you will have to exchange your foreign driving license for a Dutch driving license within six months of settling in the Netherlands.

It is important to know that these six months are very strict. If you apply for a Dutch driving license after these six months, you need to pass the Dutch driving exam.

Exchanging your foreign driving licence for a Dutch licence

Regardless the country that issued your driving license, you will have to exchange it for a Dutch driving license following a transition period. This procedure is subject to a number of conditions:

  • You are officially registered in the Netherlands;
  • You are a Dutch citizen or holding a valid permanent resident visa/resident permit;
  • Your foreign driving license was issued in the EU (European Union), the EFTA (European Free Trade Association) or one of the following non-EU countries;
  • Or you have the 30% ruling;
  • You hold a valid driving licence.

Extra conditions EU/EFTA driving license

A foreign driving license issued within the EU/EFTA, may be expired on the date of application for the Dutch driving license. When this is the case, you need a declaration form from the agency (where the driving license was issued). This document contains a statement of agreement for the application for a Dutch driving license. It must be clear the agency does not have any objections against the issuing of a Dutch driving license.

Extra conditions non-EU/EFTA driving license

  • In case you have a driving license issued outside the EU/EFTA, the driving license must be valid on the application date;
  • Your foreign driving license must have been issued in a particular year (in which you were resident in the country of issue) for at least 185 days. You will need to show evidence of this by handing in copies of your passport (including blank pages), airplane-tickets, employer certificates with salary or tax documents.

How to exchange your foreign driving licence

If you meet the conditions above, you can apply for your Dutch driving license. To do so, go to the municipality where you have your registration. For the application, you must have a valid ID, your foreign driver’s license, Citizen Service Number (bsn number) and a photo which meets the Dutch passport photo requirements.

In some cases, you need a ‘Certificate of Fitness’. Which states you are medically fit to drive a vehicle.

NOTE: When you have a foreign driving license written or drawn in punctuation uncommon in the Netherlands (like Japanese or Greek), you will need a translation of your driving license. This cannot be any kind of translation. The translation must be issued by a sworn translator, the embassy or the consulate.

The application will take about 2 weeks, so be aware of that. Because you are not able to show a driving license when asked for by the police (required by law), you are not allowed to drive during the exchange period. If you do so, you risk a fine.

Not your first time exchanging your foreign driving license for a Dutch one?

When you already had a Dutch driving license before (valid after the 30th of June 1985), you only have to proof the conditions listed above for the category you did not have on your previous Dutch driving license.

Not possible to exchange your foreign driving license?

If it is not possible for you to meet the required standards for exchanging your driving license, you must take the Dutch driving test consisting of a theoretical and practical test.

30 percent ruling and exchanging your driving licence

If you are a highly skilled migrant who benefits from the 30 percent tax ruling you can exchange your driving license for a Dutch equivalent. In this case, it doesn’t matter from which country you are. The same applies to your family, they can also exchange their foreign driving license for the Dutch equivalent if you use the 30 percent ruling.


Would you like to know more about using or exchanging your driving license in the Netherlands? Don’t hesitate to contact us, send us an email at and we will answer any questions you might have. Do you want to know more about travel expenses in the Netherlands?


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