DRIVING IN THE NETHERLANDS WITH FOREIGN REGISTRATION PLATES

Have you decided to move (temporarily) to the Netherlands and want to bring your car with you? Can you drive with foreign registration plates or do you have to exchange them?

HOW LONG CAN I DRIVE IN THE NETHERLANDS WITH A CAR WITH FOREIGN LICENSE PLATES?

This depends on several factors, like the country in which the car is registered, whether you are registered in the Dutch register of persons (BRP in Dutch) or whether you are coming to the Netherlands for studies or if you will be posted at a Dutch company.

Automobile word on vintage car license plates, concept sign

I AM REGISTERED IN THE DUTCH REGISTER OF PERSONS

If you are registered in the BRP, you are not allowed to drive a car with a foreign registration number (registration in the BRP is mandatory if you live in the Netherlands for more than 4 months). The reason for this is that you have to pay taxes.

In order to be able to drive in the Netherlands and use Dutch roads, you have to pay tax on the vehicles you own. So if you want to use your car, you have to register it in the Dutch vehicle registration register (RDW) and pay tax. This registration is called import. After importing the car, you will receive a Dutch registration number.

There are 3 exceptions to this rule:

  • You use your car for a maximum of 2 weeks (and you have an exemption for short-term use)
  • You use a company car of from your foreign employer (and you have an employee exemption)
  • You use a company car from your foreign company (and you have an employer exemption)

In these 3 situations you don’t have to pay car and motorcycle tax (bpm in Dutch) and motor vehicle tax (mrb in Dutch). Mrb is also called road tax. The necessary exemptions are requested from the tax authorities.

I AM NOT REGISTERED IN THE DUTCH REGISTER OF PERSONS

In this case, you are allowed to drive with foreign car registration numbers for a maximum of 6 months a year. These 6 months do not have to be a continuous period and there is no need to do or ask for anything as this is an international right. 

If you want to use your car in the Netherlands for more than 6 months, you have to pay tax for using Dutch roads. For this, you need to submit a tax return for cars and motorcycles (bpm). If you live outside the European Union (EU), you must also submit a declaration of import to customs. 

If you use your car to transport things or people for a fee, you can do this for a maximum of 3 months based on international law (these 3 months do not need be a continuous period).

I WORK TEMPORARILY IN THE NETHERLANDS FOR A FOREIGN COMPANY

If you are temporarily posted to the Netherlands by a foreign employer, you can use your car with a foreign registration number for commuting to work based on international law, without needing any exemption. You can use the car for the duration of your secondment without paying tax.

Eastmen cars on a trailer

CONCLUSION

Cars on a Dutch highway

If you want to live (temporarily) in the Netherlands, you can drive a car with a foreign registration number if you are not registered in the BRP. You can do this for a maximum of 6 months a year, or a maximum of 3 months if you use your car to transport things or people for a fee. You do not need to do or ask for anything to be able to use the car during this period, as this is an international right.

If you are registered in the BRP, you are not allowed to drive a car with a foreign registration number. However, you can use a company car from your foreign employer, a company car of your own foreign company, or if you are temporarily placed in the Netherlands by a foreign employer, you can use your car with a foreign registration number to commute to work.

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