Buying and Selling a Vehicle in the Netherlands

Information on how, as a foreigner in the Netherlands, you can buy a new or used car. Includes information on the legal formalities and the documents needed…

The RDW (Rijksdienst voor het Wegverkeer) is the Netherlands' national authority for road traffic, transport and vehicle administration. All motor motor vehicles in the country must be registered with the RDW. Registering a vehicle with the RDW means that the owner is agreeing to have the minimum liability insurance, paid-up vehicle road tax and valid APK (roadworthiness).

Dutch registration papers consist of two parts:

  • Part I (this must be carried in the vehicle when using public roads):
    • Vehicle certificate (Kentekenbewijs). Note: Through the period January 1, 2014 - December 31, 2018 the kentekenbewijs is transitioning from paper to plastic. During this time either form is acceptable
    • Certificate of ownership (Tenaamstellingsbewijs)
  • Part II
    • Transfer certificate (Overschrijvingsbewijs)

Every new vehicle over 750 Kg is issued with a Vehicle certificate by the RDW, this remains with the car. The Certificate of ownership is transferred when the vehicle is bought or sold.

Buying a Vehicle

Any vehicle, car, motorbike or trailer over 750 Kg, must be registered with the RDW. It is the owner who completes the registration (it can only be done on someone's behalf in certain circumstances). It is the buyer's responsibility to make sure the vehicle is registered with the RDW.

Registration takes place at an RDW accredited dealership (if that is where the vehicle is bought from). In order to register a car or motorbike the new owner must be over 18 years old and resident in the Netherlands.

The following must be produced:

  • Proof of Identity - one of the following three:
    • A valid Dutch driving licence not more than 10 years old
    • A valid passport or ID card and residence certificate and copy of personal data from the municipal register (Uittreksel uit het bevolkingsregister) not more than three months old
    • A valid foreign passport and certificate of residence with an original extract from the local municipal register (Uittreksel uit het bevolkingsregister) not more than three months old
  • Certificate of ownership
  • Transfer certificate

The registration papers cannot be transferred into the name of the new owner until the identity and registration details have been checked with the RDW, this can normally be done on the spot.

If the vehicle is bought from an RDW accredited dealership the papers can be transferred immediately, the individual will need identification and a valid Dutch driving licence. The identification will be checked against a database and then the registration papers can be transferred.

Road tax

Road tax (motorrijtuigenbelasting) must be paid on all vehicles. Once the registration papers are transferred the new owner's name is linked to the road tax liability. This is either paid for every three months or annually, either way a reminder and an invoice will be sent out when the payment is due. Various payment methods and terms are allowed. Pricing varies depending on the vehicle, its fuel and district of registration.

Selling a Vehicle

If when selling a vehicle the registration transfer does not happen then the seller is still responsible for vehicle and obligations and fines.

Selling to an RDW accredited dealer

The transfer can be made at an RDW garage, present the complete registration certificate:

  • Vehicle certificate (Kentekenbewijs)
  • Certificate of ownership (Tenaamstellingsbewijs)
  • Transfer certificate (Overschrijvingsbewijs)

When the transfer has been completed the Certificate of ownership becomes invalid and is returned with the indemnity certificate to the seller.

Selling to a private individual

If a vehicle is sold privately the registration transfer must take place at a post office. If the buyer does not hold a Dutch passport, Dutch driving licence or Dutch ID card, the registration must take place at RDW. It is the buyer's responsibility to change the ownership; they must take the following:

  • Certificate of Ownership (Tenaamstellingsbewijs)
  • Transfer certificate (Overschrijvingsbewijs)
  • Proof of identification

The buyer will immediately receive a certificate of indemnity to pass on to the seller, the seller should also ask for the invalidated certificate of ownership in case of future problems.

It is normal practice for the seller to not hand over the vehicle or vehicle certificate until they have received the certificate of indemnity, as this is the only proof of the change of ownership.

Road tax

Any excess road tax that has been paid by the original owner will be repaid by the RDW from the date the vehicle's registration changes. This is the same whether the car is sold to a garage or a private sale.

Lost/missing documents

If the vehicle is missing a number plate or registration certificate has been lost it is the seller's responsibility to replace these before transferring the ownership of the vehicle.


There is a fixed cost for transferring the certificate of ownership; this is the same whether it is done at an RDW registered garage or at the post office. If buying a new car there is a further, one off, BPM charge for the vehicle certificate. BPM (Bijzondere Verbruiksbelasting van Personenautos) is a tax payable by the first person to register a car or motorcycle in the Netherlands

Further Information