If you are planning to stay in the Netherlands for an extensive period of time, it is usually worth exchanging your foreign driving licence for a Dutch driving license (rijbewijs in Dutch).
If you are a citizen from a European country, chances are you can continue to use your licence from your home country until it expires (this is not true for all European countries, however, so be sure to check). Are you an expat from a non-European country who is planning to stay for longer than six months? In that case you will need to exchange your licence within that first six-month period. Read on for the specifics!
Using a foreign driving licence in the Netherlands
There are different categories for how long a foreign driving license is valid in the Netherlands. Those that were issued to citizens of the EU/EEA by countries of the EU/EEA may be used for a longer period time than those of citizens from outside Europe. A quick overview of the salient facts:
For holders of an EU/EEA driving license:
- If you have an EU/EEA driving license and it was issued before 19 January 2013, you can keep using that licence for the first 10 years after it was issued.
- If you have already had your license for nine years when coming to the Netherlands, you may continue to drive with it for another two years, starting from the date of your registration with your Dutch municipality, provided the license is valid.
- EU/EEA licences issued after 19 January 2013 may be used for up to 15 years, so long as the licence is valid.
- Once the validity of the original licence ends, the holder will need to apply for a Dutch driving licence.
For holders of a non-EU/EAA driving licence:
- Licenses issued by a country outside of the EU/EEA (including the Netherlands Antilles and Aruba) are valid for six months from the date you register at your local Dutch municipality. After that, you will have to get a Dutch driving licence.
- If you apply for a Dutch driving licence after this six-month period, you will need to pass the official Dutch driving tests.