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

Introduction of the Single Permit

Dutch immigration lawyer

The single permit is a combination between a residence permit and a work permit. Foreign nationals who want to come to the Netherlands to work (for more than three months) now only need to start a single procedure. In the past they had to apply for a work permit at the UWV and for a residence permit at the IND.

The conditions under which a foreign national may come to the Netherlands for work and residence purposes has not changed. The single permit applies to the majority of the labor migrants. However, a few categories of foreign nationals have been exempted from the single permit.

For more information please contact Mrs. Hilde Cevaal. She can be contacted by e-mail: H.cevaal@visaversa.com or by phone: +31 787 518 450.

Company Formation in Netherlands

Formation of a Dutch B.V.

The formation of a Dutch private company with limited liability B.V. (‘besloten vennootschap met beperkte aansprakelijkheid’, hereinafter: B.V.) in The Netherlands involves three distinct steps:

  1. the collecting of all the necessary data and documents for drafting the Company’s articles of association (‘statuten’);
  2. the execution of the Deed of Incorporation containing the Company’s articles of association (‘statuten’) before a Dutch civil law notary (‘Notaris’), which can be done by power of attorney;- and
  3. the subsequent registration of the essential details of the Deed of Incorporation at the appropriate Chamber of Commerce (by way of submitting datacards).

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Dutch corporate law Advisor for Doing Business in Netherlands

On 1 July 2013 a number of important amendments to the Dutch company law policy has taken effect. The primary aim is to make stronger the corporate governance of listed and unlisted companies by decrease shareholder activism and promoting the dialogue between shareholders and the management board.

Dutch corporate law has gradually changed. Due to national and European government action it has increasingly become more detailed and complex. A large part of the law is considered to be mandatory. The aim of this paper is to clarify the scope of mandatory corporate law by examining the limits it places on modifications in by-laws and agreements between shareholders.

Amount of mandatory corporate law and the freedom of the individual guaranteed by private law. On the one hand, the freedom of the individual to contract and set up organizations is limited by mandatory corporate law. From the opposite point of view, it is mandatory corporate law which is limited by private law. In that respect, the mandatory effect of corporate law is lessened if shareholder agreements are allowed to circumvent corporate law. On the other hand, mandatory corporate law may be used to ensure the freedom of the individual.

Need Help on Dutch corporate law visit our website https://www.doing-business-in-netherlands.com/ or call us +31 205 747 474. We provide Dutch corporate law advisor and full support to establish your business in The Netherlands. We provide wide service support to help you when you start Doing Business in Netherlands.

Reasonableness and fairness together in a joint venture

Under Dutch Corporate Law it is stipulated that a minority shareholder is protected by the principle of reasonableness and fairness in a joint venture situation. The Dutch Supreme Court has recently ruled that not just only a minority shareholder but also an equal joint partner in a joint venture company may appeal to this protection.

In this particular case, the joint venture started with two shareholders (A and B) each holding 50% of the share capital. Later in time, a third party (C) joined the company and was given 7% of the issued share capital, reducing A and B pro rata and therefore maintaining their equality of power. After a while the business relation between A and B got worse and worse as a result of which A decided to buy the 7% shares of C and therefore obtaining control without informing B as an equal joint partner. In spite of the fact that the shareholders agreement stated that a transfer between shareholders was free of any obligation towards the other shareholder (B), the Supreme Court disapproved the passive role of the Board of the Company in the specific matter. According to the Supreme Court the Board should have informed the equal joint partner B, especially due to the fact that B has now become a minority shareholder as a result of the transfer of shares between A and C.

The principle of reasonableness and fairness is incorporated in Section 2:8 of the Dutch Civil Code and oblige all parties involved to act towards each other in accordance with reasonableness and fairness.

In the course of doing business in The Netherlands (commercial) transactions are governed by contract. Although contracting parties are free to agree to the terms they wish, there are specific restrictions to such as reasonableness and fairness and for example good faith which are commonly unknown outside The Netherlands. Parties interested in doing business in The Netherlands should be aware of these restrictions.

Netherlands General Information for Doing Business in Holland

Netherlands has the 10th largest economy in the world and is ranked 16th according to Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

Why do companies prefer to doing business in the Netherlands/Holland One of the most important reasons is the highly educated, flexible and motivated workforce. In the decision on whether to locate in the Netherlands, labor costs are not a decisive factor. There are numerous favorable factors. These include the fact that employment contracts are becoming more flexible, rules for admitting knowledge workers to the Netherlands are becoming more relaxed and, last but not least, the government’s customized approach to tax facilities is a major advantage.

Furthermore, the country’s central geographical position, combined with its accessibility through excellent infrastructure and logistics services, entices numerous European, American and a growing number of Asian companies to establish their European head offices in the Netherlands. This is why more than 400 of the 500 largest companies in the world have their offices in the Netherlands.


Location Western Europe, bordering the North Sea, between Belgium and Germany
National language Dutch
Capital City Amsterdam
Seat of government The Hague
Currency Euro (EUR)
Climate Temperate; maritime; cool summer and mild winter
International dialing code +31
Internet domain .nl

Dutch Accounting and Audit Requirements for Limited Companies

Dutch public limited companies (NV) and private limited companies (BV) have the obligation to prepare annual accounts and have to file a copy of the accounts with the Trade register of the Chamber of Commerce. The Dutch Civil Code requires all public and private limited companies prepare and present to the shareholders: the annual report, the directors report and other information (e.g. auditors’ report, certain legal matters, a statement of post-balance sheet events which materially affect the financial position).

The Dutch accounting rules are regulated by law. Dutch Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (Dutch GAAP) are mainly based on EU directives. Dutch GAAP still differs from International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) but is brought in line with IFRS on a continuing basis.

The annual accounts should provide sufficient information to allow the reader to form a realistic opinion about the company’s capital and results and insofar as is consistent with the nature of the annual accounts, its solvency and liquidity.

Medium and large sized companies are required by law to have their annual accounts audited. A company is considered to be small, medium or large sized if it meets two of the three following criteria during two consecutive financial years and on a consolidated basis: balance sheet total, net turnover and average number of employees. If an audit is not required (small sized company) a voluntary audit is possible.

For more information please contact Mr. Dennis Akkerman. He can be contacted by e-mail:d.akkerman@hlb-nannen.nl or by phone: + 31 591 612 377.

Welcome to the new DBi Netherlands!

Doing Business in the Netherlands has a new look! Check out the services that we provide to ensure that your company will get the best services which you cannot miss during your business setup process in the Netherlands. Also check out our partners that you will be working with! DBi ensures the very best of specialists in individual domains who are passionate about advising businesses settling in The Netherlands.

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