Exchanging your driver’s license as a foreign national

Driving in the Netherlands is pretty easy. The roads are safe, drivers give each other enough space (unless you came across a so called “bumperklever”) and the rules are clear. Or aren’t they..?

Not everybody is aware of the fact that, if you don’t have an EU / EFTA (‘European Free Trade Association’) country driving license which has been issued less than 10 years ago, you will need to exchange the license within 185 days (for citizens from outside the EU / EFTA) or 2 years (for EU / EFTA citizens) after your registration at the town hall or Expat Center, even if you have been registered at the temporary address.
For instance: German license, issued in 1985? Exchange it within two years. South Africa, issued in 2015? Exchange it within 185 days. But ha! Iceland, issued in 2014? You can keep it until the license expires. But, if you would prefer to, you can choose to already exchange it for a Dutch one.

The exchange process can be easy in some situations. If you are eligible for the 30% ruling, and this has been approved by the Dutch Tax Office, you (and your partner and children, nice detail!) can use the confirmation letter to easily exchange the license. If this is the case, then there’s nothing much more to do than the following:

‘Eigen Verklaring’

At first, you need to go to your municipal office of the municipality where you have been registered, to obtain a document called the Health Form (‘Eigen Verklaring’). Did you register in Amsterdam at first, moved to Haarlem in the meantime and changed your address a couple of days before? Check https://mijn.overheid.nl/?r=1 (login with your Digi-D code, I will explain more about this in my next article), and check whether or not the address change has been processed. This may take a couple of days.

The Eigen Verklaring will cost you around € 35,- and is in Dutch, but via the The Hague website https://www.denhaag.nl/en/driving-licence/driving-licence-statement-of-health.htm, you can find the translation on the second page of the PDF document.

‘Verklaring van Geschiktheid’

If the answer at one of the questions is “YES” in the health form, you will need a health check by a doctor. After approval from the doctor, you can send the form to the CBR (Centraal Bureau Rijvaardigheid – Central Road Aptitude Bureau). The CBR will then process the declaration and send you the confirmation that the certificate of fitness (‘Verklaring van geschiktheid’) has been registered. As soon as you have received this confirmation, you can return to the town hall office (probably by appointment), where you will need to submit:

  • Your original, valid foreign driving license (if necessary: with translation or a statement from the embassy);
  • The confirmation from the RDW, that the certificate of fitness has been registered;
  • One identical, recent colored passport photograph;
  • And the approval for your 30% ruling.

Sometimes, depending on the town hall and in case your license has been issued outside the EU / EFTA, you will also need to show proof that you have indeed been living in the country that issued your license for more than 185 days. You can do this by bringing a rental agreement, employment contract, salary slips, et cetera.

As soon as the municipal fees (around € 40,-) have been paid, the municipal office will send the entire application and your foreign license for evaluation to the RDW. If the application is granted, the RDW will send a letter to your home address within two to three weeks that you can collect your new Dutch driving license at the municipal office. During these two to three weeks, you are officially not in the possession of a valid license, meaning that you are not allowed to drive and you are not insured if you decide to drive after all. The police can also give you a fine for this, worth € 360,-.

Important: if you would like to keep your original driving license, you must submit a request with your application, for instance, that you will need it in your home country. This won’t guarantee that you will get it back, but at least you tried.

If you are not eligible for the 30% ruling, or your license has been issued in one of the countries that have specific rules and regulations, it might be easier to ask us to assist you on this. Interested? Call our office on 020 – 70 70 551 or send me an email: vankempen@expatmanagementgroup.com. We are happy to help!


Miriam Van Kempen
Expat Management Group

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