Vehicle Roadworthiness Tests

All vehicles must undergo regular inspection, a Periodic Technical Inspection or APK (like the MOT test), ensures a car is legal and roadworthy with safe emissions...

The Dutch vehicle roadworthiness test is a Periodic Technical Inspection or General Regular Safety Inspection (Algemene Periodieke Keuring or APK). The purpose of the test is to ensure that the vehicle is not a hazard on the road (it is the equivalent of an MOT in the UK.)

The APK test is compulsory and may only be conducted by garages which have been authorised by the State Department for Road Traffic (RijeksDienst voor het Wegverkeer or RDW). There are about 9,000 APK-licensed garages approved by the RDW in the Netherlands, and they can be recognised by a sign ("RDW approved") placed outside.

Taking the APK Test

The first passenger car APK test needs to be done four years after its registration, after which it must be renewed after two years and then annually. Classic cars (registered for the first time before January 1, 1960) are exempt from APK testing. Heavy vehicles must be tested every year unless they are old enough to fall into the classic category.

The APK test checks various points of safety and reliability of the vehicle, in accordance with the European Directive 96/96/EC, such as:

  • Braking systems
  • Steering and steering wheel
  • Visibility of the vehicle
  • Lamps/lights
  • Reflectors and electrical equipment
  • Tyres
  • Axles
  • Wheels and suspension
  • Chassis and chassis attachments
  • Equipment (safety belts, speed limitation devices)

If the vehicle passes the test

Once the car has passed the test, the owner gets a document stating that it conforms with the requirements and giving the date for the next test.

Random checks

The RDW monitors the safety and environment matters related to Dutch vehicles and carries out random checks on some vehicles which have passed the APK. About three percent of the vehicles are double checked by the RDW. Once an APK test is carried out, the computer system automatically informs the certificate holder whether a random inspection is to be held by the RDW.

The RDW has a computer database of all vehicles registered in Holland and monitors these vehicles for roadworthiness (valid APK), road tax and insurance. If any of these are late for renewal the RDW issues a warning with a fixed penalty notice, requesting renewal of the above within a certain time period. It is possible to plead mitigating circumstances (such as out of the country on business) and avoid paying the penalty if the payment for renewal is made as soon as possible after being notified.

If the vehicle fails the test

If the car fails the test, the owner must carry out the necessary repairs and take it back to the garage for re-testing.

If the owner thinks that the vehicle has been incorrectly approved or rejected, they may appeal to the RDW against the inspector's decision. The RDW will carry out an inquiry. This complaints procedure is also valid if the vehicle has been subject to - and failed - a random inspection by the RDW.

Foreign Vehicles

A foreign car registered in the Netherlands falls under the Dutch law – therefore it must have its first APK test three years after the first registration, and every subsequent year.

If the car is older than three years, the APK check can be carried out at the same time as the car is presented to the RDW for registration. The APK document is valid for one year.

Further Information