The 8 essential tips to smooth car ownership for expats in the Netherlands!
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The 8 essential tips to smooth car ownership for expats in the Netherlands!

20 februari 2024

Driving license requirements

The good news is that many foreign driving licenses are valid in the Netherlands, allowing you to drive without the need for a Dutch license. However, there are specific conditions that apply. The most common rule is that you can use your foreign driving license for up to 185 days after registering in the Netherlands or, if applicable, after receiving your Dutch residence permit.

If you hold a non-EU/EEA driving license and plan to stay longer then 185 days, the rules differ slightly. In some cases, you may need to pass a theory and practical driving test to exchange your foreign license for a Dutch one.

Expats with a non-EU/EEA driving license might need to obtain an International Driving Permit (IDP) to drive in the Netherlands. The IDP serves as a translation of the foreign license and should be carried alongside the original license.

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For EU/EEA driving licenses

The good news for EU/EEA driving licenses is that they're generally valid in the Netherlands without a time limit. This means that as an expat from an EU/EEA country, you can continue using your existing license without a 185-day limit for as long as it remains valid.

While not mandatory, some expats choose to exchange their EU/EEA driving license for a Dutch one. This can be done at the local municipality, and the process typically involves minimal bureaucracy for EU/EEA license holders.

Since EU/EEA driving licenses are issued in various languages, language barriers are often minimal. However, if your license is not in English, German, French, or another accepted language, you may need to provide a sworn translation.


Import duties and taxes

The Netherlands imposes a Value Added Tax (VAT), or "BTW" (Belasting over de Toegevoegde Waarde), on the purchase price of a new or used car. The standard VAT rate is 21%. The BPM is a one-time tax levied on the registration of a car in the Netherlands. The amount is calculated based on various factors, including the CO2 emissions and the car's catalog value. Expats purchasing a new car from Qoets will usually see the BPM included in the total price.

In addition to the BPM, there may be a separate CO2 tax based on the vehicle's emissions. Cars with higher CO2 emissions generally incur higher taxes. Expats should consider the CO2 emissions of their chosen vehicle and understand the associated tax implications.


Vehicle registration

Navigating the vehicle registration process in the Netherlands as an expat can be a complex and time-consuming endeavor. However, Qoets, recognizing the challenges faced by expats, offers a streamlined solution to this administrative task. When purchasing a car through Qoets, our service team will take care of the entire vehicle registration process on the expats behalf. This includes handling paperwork, ensuring compliance with technical standards, and liaising with the RDW (Netherlands Vehicle Authority).



Securing the right insurance is a critical step for expats buying a car in the Netherlands. Recognizing the complexities of insurance policies and local regulations, Qoets has partnered with an insurance company to offer expats a simplified and personalized insurance solution. When expats purchase a car through Qoets, they receive a tailored insurance proposal that encompasses various coverage options, providing flexibility to meet specific needs and preferences. Importantly, expats have the freedom to accept the proposed insurance offer or explore alternative options independently. This collaborative approach ensures a convenient and informed insurance process, aligning with Qoets' commitment to making the expat experience in the Netherlands as seamless and stress-free as possible.


Be aware of enviromental zones

Environmental zones are implemented to reduce air pollution and improve the overall quality of the air in specific urban areas. They aim to limit the entry of vehicles that do not meet certain emission standards. Vehicles that enter environmental zones are typically required to meet specific emission standards. The standards are often based on factors such as the vehicle's fuel type, year of manufacture, and level of emissions. In environmental zones, certain vehicle types may be restricted or prohibited altogether. This often includes older vehicles with higher emission levels, particularly those with diesel engines. Some major Dutch cities, including Amsterdam, Rotterdam, and Utrecht, have established environmental zones. Each city does have its own set of rules and regulations regarding which vehicles are allowed within the zone. Certain vehicles may be exempt from environmental zone restrictions, such as electric or hybrid vehicles.


Maintenance and repairs

Maintaining and repairing a car as an expat in the Netherlands involves navigating a system designed to ensure road safety, emissions compliance, and overall vehicle reliability. Regular maintenance, such as oil changes and brake inspections, is essential, and expats can choose between authorized service centers and independent garages for these tasks. Technical inspections, like the APK keuring, are required annually for cars over three years old.

Expats should be prepared for repair costs, which can vary, and obtaining estimates before authorizing repairs is advisable. Some car insurance policies may cover certain repair costs, and roadside assistance services can provide support in emergencies. Warranty coverage for new or certified pre-owned cars should be understood to manage repair expenses.

To simplify the maintenance process, Qoets offers a comprehensive service that takes care of all the necessary maintenance for your car. This service ensures that your vehicle remains in optimal condition, providing expats with a convenient and hassle-free solution for their automotive needs. Overall, staying proactive with vehicle care, complying with Dutch inspection and maintenance requirements, contribute to a reliable and well-maintained vehicle for expats in the Netherlands.

Expeted costs of owning a car in the netherlands

Owning a car in the Netherlands entails various anticipated costs that expats should consider when making a purchase and maintaining their vehicle. Initially, there's the purchase price, influenced by factors like whether the car is new or used, and potential taxes and duties, including Value Added Tax (VAT) and Vehicle Registration Tax (BPM). Insurance premiums are mandatory, with considerations for coverage types, deductibles, and the car's specifications.

Annual road tax, based on weight, fuel type, and emissions, is another recurring cost. Fuel expenses depend on the car's efficiency and consumption. Routine maintenance, repairs, and technical inspections contribute to overall ownership costs, along with potential parking fees in urban areas. Compliance with environmental zones may require an additional expense, and understanding depreciation is crucial for long-term financial planning.

Qoets offers a maintenance service that simplifies vehicle upkeep, potentially reducing unexpected repair costs. Resale considerations, such as maintaining detailed service records, are important for those looking to sell or trade in their cars in the future. Creating a comprehensive budget that encompasses all expected costs, including potential fluctuations in fuel prices or insurance premiums, is advisable for a financially sound car ownership experience in the Netherlands.

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