When it comes to driving in the Netherlands new residents can retain the use of their foreign driving license for a specific period after their arrival. The length of license validity can vary widely, ranging from six months to 15 years depending on the country and date of issue. To determine the applicable period for you, continue reading.

How long can I use my foreign driver’s license in the Netherlands?

If you’re planning to reside in the Netherlands and possess a foreign driving license, you can continue to utilize it for a period. The duration varies based on the country of issuance for your driving license and when you obtained your license.


License form the EU or EFTA

Residents of the Netherlands with a driving license in the category A(motor or moped) and B(car) issued by the European Union (EU) countries or the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) countries are allowed to drive with it in the Netherlands for 15 years from the date of issue of the foreign driving license. There is one conditions though your foreign license must still be valid.

If your driving license was issued over 15 years ago but has not yet expired, you can still use it for 2 years from the date you moved to the Netherlands.

Once the period that you are allowed to use your license has passed(so either after the 15 or 2 years), you are required to obtain a Dutch driving license. This means you will have to exchange your foreign driving license for a Dutch one. It is very important to apply for the change in time because if you have not exchanged it before the period of 15 or 2 years has passed you will no longer be permitted to drive, even if you have already applied for the exchange. Visit the RDW website for information on how to exchange your license.


License from other countries

If you possess a valid driving license but it was not issued by a EU or EFTA country, you may only utilize it for up to 185 days after relocating to the Netherlands. After this period you will need to pass both the theory and practical exams administered by CBR and obtain a Dutch license.

There are some exceptions to these rules. Certain non EU or EFTA countries have special agreements with the Netherlands for license exchange. The license from these countries may be exchanged for a Dutch license but only if they are still valid and in the mentioned categories.

Below we have listed the countries that have special agreements with the Netherlands for license exchange.

  • Andorra – passenger car – Dutch driving licence category B
  • Canadian province Québec – Class 5 – Dutch driving licence category B
  • Israël – B – passenger car – Dutch driving licence category B
  • Japan IB – passenger car en motorcycle with more than 400 cm³ – Dutch driving licence categories A and B
  • Singapore – Class 2 – motorcycle with more than 400 cm³ and Class 3 – passenger car – Dutch driving licence categories A and B
  • Taiwan – B – passenger car – Dutch driving licence category B


30% Tax Ruling

Another exception is the 30% ruling. If you are working in the Netherlands as a highly skilled migrant and eligible for the 30% tax ruling you have the option to exchange your driving license from any country. Note that this again is only an option if your foreign driving license is still valid. To exchange your license you must possess a valid Proof of Approval (‘Beschikking Bewijsregel’) from the Dutch tax authorities. Together with your employer you can apply for the Proof of Approval.

So in short there are numerous rules and regulations to bear in mind when driving in the Netherlands with a foreign license. Aside from your license being valid or eligible for exchange the most important thing always is that you are safe on the road. In certain instances, familiarizing yourself with Dutch traffic regulations may be advisable, even if your license remains valid. If you would like to feel more secure and learn about all about the Dutch traffic regulations you can always register for one of our two day English courses at our location Amsterdam.