How to Get a Dutch Driving Licence

Information on driving permits in the Netherlands: details on applying for a learner's licence and registering for a Dutch driving test...

Dutch driving licences are regulated by the Department of Road Transport (RDW). Driver testing and license approval is managed by the Driving Test Organisation (Centraal Bureau Rijvaardigheid, CBR). A licence (rijbewijs) is issued by the local municipality (Gemeente).

The minimum legal age to drive a moped with a design speed of less than 45 Km/h is 16, and 18 for all other motor vehicles. All Dutch drivers must be in possession of a valid licence. Drivers with foreign licences maybe eligible to exchange their licence to a Dutch one whereas others will need to take a driving test and apply for a Dutch driving permit as though they had never driven before.

Taking a Dutch Driving Test

Those who cannot exchange their licence for a Dutch one or have never held a licence before will have to take a Dutch driving test. In order to take the test and get a driving licence the applicant must be resident in the Netherlands and foreigners must have a valid resident permit. The CBR is responsible for driving tests and has test centres throughout the Netherlands. The driving test is made up of both theory and road test.

The theory examination

Only people 16 years and older may take the drivers theory test. The test date can be reserved by the driving school or online.

  • It is possible to take the driving theory exam in English. This can be done by logging in with a DigiD (personalised electronic identifier) and booking an exam date (€25 booking fee) via the CBR website. Ironically, the booking page is only available in Dutch.

The following documents will be needed:

  • A completed and signed theory card (buy these cards from a driving school or at the reception desk of one of the CBR theory test centres)
  • Proof of residence - an extract (not a photocopy and no more than six months old) from the driver's personal entry in the municipal register of their place of residence
  • Valid identification (ID card, passport)
  • A recent passport-sized photograph

A theory certificate (theoriecertificaat) is issued immediately after the test has been passed.

Note: It is only possible to practice driving with a certified instructor (not with a friend or relative, even if they have a drivers licence).

The practical examination

Only people with the appropriate age for the licence class and a theory certificate may take the driving test. Reservation will be made by the driving school at one of the 50 centres in the Netherlands.

Documents required for the test reservation are:

  • Eigen verklaring (health form signed by a doctor, available from a driving school or Gemeente)
  • Application form (aanvraagkaart voor het praktijkexamen)

Test preparation is managed by a driving school. An optional interim test (tussentijdse toets) may be taken. Statistics have shown this to improve the likelihood of passing the exam.

Documents required at the exam centre on the day of the exam are:

  • Reservation notice (oproepkaart)
  • Valid theory certificate (theoriecertificaat)
  • ID or passport
  • Interim test results (if applicable)

The tests last 55 minutes with a portion of the time devoted to introductory explanations and a sum-up. Many examiners allow the instructor to accompany the learner on the test (although they are not obliged to). If a translator (or the instructor) is needed for language reasons, arrangements must be made in advance.

The test begins with a vision test in the parking area (reading plates of parked cars). During the driving test the examiner checks technical ability. Results are issued immediately after the test.

The exam tests driving competence as well as mental and physical fitness. If a learner fails the practical test, the examiner explains the cause and driving lessons should be resumed.

A successful applicant is given:

  • Verklaring van rijvaardigheid (certificate of competence) valid six months
  • Verklaring van geschiktheid (certificate of fitness) valid one year

The Verklaring van rijvaardigheid is immediately entered into the CBR database. This informs the local Gemeente which is responsible for issuing the credit card-style driver's licence.

Go to the Gemeente taking:

  • ID or Passport
  • Fee

All new drivers are classed as "beginner drivers" (beginnende bestuurders) for five years. Stricter rules (concerning speed and alcohol) and different penalties apply.

Renewal

A Dutch driving licence should be renewed every ten years with an exam (herhalingstoets) to ensure the driver is up-to-date on road rules. This is voluntary.

2toDrive

In the Netherlands, the 2toDrive scheme allows teenagers to start taking driving lessons from the age of 16.5, take the practical test for a B licence at the age of 17, and drive under the supervision of an experienced adult driver until they can drive independently at the age of 18.