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Dutch driving license for expats: 9 important questions answered

Exploring your option to take the test for a Dutch driving license, but dazzled by the overwhelming amount of information? We explain wether you need to take the test, how you can apply and what driving schools can help you in English.

The Netherlands is part of the European Union. Do you work here as an expat from another country of within the EU? You most probably do not need to take driving lessons and apply for the theoretical and practical test. Do you work in the Netherlands as an expat from outside the European Union? In most cases your driving license will only be valid for up to six months maximum. Make sure you that driving lessons and apply for both tests in time, to make sure you’re not driving a car without a valid license.

Questions on the Dutch driving license for expats

Do you think of applying for the Dutch driving license? The Dutch roads score among the most safest in the world. This is partly a result of the strict terms and rules for anyone that would like to apply for a driving license.

We can imagine you might end up confused whenever trying to find out wether you need to take driving lessons, where to apply and how to take the test in the end. We answer you the 9 most important questions, while suggesting some directions to move forward. This are the questions we will answer:

  • Can I change my driving license to a Dutch one?
  • How to apply for a Dutch driving license test?
  • How many driving lessons do I need to pass the test?
  • How much do driving lessons in the Netherlands cost?
  • Can I learn to drive before passing the theory test?
  • How do I study for the theoretical exam for a Dutch driving license?
  • What does the practical diving test look like?
  • Can I take driving lessons in a car with automatic transmission?
  • Where can I find English spoken driving schools in the Netherlands?

Can I change my driving license to a Dutch one?

Curious wether you need to take lessons and apply for the test to get a Dutch driving license? There’s no need for that if you’re an expat from one of the following countries of the European Union: Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus (only the Greek part), Denmark, Germany, Estonia, Finland France, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy,  Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Austria, Poland, Portugal, Rumania, Slovenia, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden, Czech Republic.

Next to that, you’ll be able to just change your own driving license to a Dutch one if you’re an expat from these countries within the European Free Commerce Association: Iceland, Lichtenstein, Norway, Switzerland.

Expats from other countries than mentioned above need to apply for two tests: the theoretical test and a practical test.

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How to apply for a Dutch driving license test?

The Dutch driving license test consists of two elements:

  • Theoretical test
    The theoretical test consists of 3 categories, adding up to a total 65 questions. You’ll be asked 25 questions about recognizing dangerous situations (minimum 13 to answer correctly), 12 on knowledge about rulings and traffic signs (minimum 10 to answer correctly) and 28 questions about traffic insights (minimum 25 to answer correctly). That means, you need a minimum of 48 correct answers to pass, when in the right categories.
    Unfortunately, the official information is only available in Dutch.
  • Practical test
    For the practical test you’ll be driving with an examiner of the CBR, the official authority for driving licenses in the Netherlands. The drive will last for about 35 minutes. During the drive, you need to navigate to a given destination, using the navigation system. It is important to prove you can drive safely and individually. The examiner will look at your sense of control of the car, the way you look around you and give way when needed to.
    Unfortunately, the official information is only available in Dutch.

Would you like to apply for the theoretical test? You can do that yourself online. You can use the website of the CBR, to apply for a date and time to take the test. Make sure you studied the material decently. Did you fail the test? You can re-take the exam as often as you like.

You cannot apply yourself for the practical exam to get your driving license in the Netherlands. Instead, you need to authorize the driving school at which you take the driving lessons.

The ultimate guide for buying a Dutch car. A must read.

How many driving lessons do I need to pass the test?

During driving lessons you learn how to get a sense of control about the car, make sure you look around you in the right way and give way when needed. Those are the three most important elements the examiner will look at when you take the practical test.

How many driving lessons you need does totally depend on the level of skill you already have and how soon you can adapt to Dutch driving standards. You can expect some pretty busy roads in the Netherlands, as you might have already experienced. Especially in cities and on highways, there’s a lot of traffic you need to look at and watch out for.

Typically, Dutch applicants that have no experience in driving a car take about 25 to 35 driving lessons. Most driving schools offer packages of driving lessons, based on a driving test you can take to show what your current skill level is.

There’s no minimum number of driving lessons you need to take before you can apply for the exam.

How much do driving lessons in the Netherlands cost?

Thinking of taking driving lessons and curious on what costs you need to count? On average, taking driving lessons and taking the theoretical and practical exam costs about €2.400, according to the CBR.

These costs are based on the following elements:

  • Driving lessons: €1.626,46
  • Gezondheidsverklaring CBR (Health statement): €39,30
  • Theoretical exam: €88,80 (based on the average of 2.4 takes before succeeding)
  • Practical exam: €536,25 (based on the average of 2 takes before succeeding, including 1 driving lesson in upon taking the exam).
  • Tussentijdse Toets (Interim test): €120
  • Applying for the driving license: €40
  • Taking photos for applying: €10

Driving lessons on average cost about €40 tot €50 per hour. Most driving schools offer packages and deals when you combine a greater number of driving lessons. Next to that, always combining minimum 2 hours create greater efficiency, by losing less time to be picked up and driving other candidates home.

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Can I learn to drive before passing the theory test?

Yes, you’re free to take driving lessons before you pass the theory test. In fact, most Dutch applicants start their driving lessons and then make an appointment at the CBR for their theory test.

Make sure you take the theory test in time. You can only apply for the practical test once you passed for the theory test. On overage, candidates need 2.4 tries to pass the exam. Try to apply in time, to have some space left for a re-take when needed.

Important: you can learn to drive by taking driving lessons. It is not allowed by any means to take driving lessons with friends, family or others that offer you to learn how to drive. You will be driving without a valid license, which can lead to a high fine or penalty.

How do I study for the theoretical exam for a Dutch driving license?

It is important to study well for the theoretical exam for the Dutch driving license. Of course, you can do that in English (and take the exam in English as well).

Typically, Dutch applicants study in two ways for the theory exam at the CBR:

  • From a theory book
    The traffic manual is a good way to start. The book describes all the important elements you need to know, when taking the theory test. Make sure you practice some of the exams you’ll find in it, to know wether you are well prepared or need to study a little more.
  • By joining a training
    Did you read the manual and would you like a more in-depth training? Or do you prefer the training right away? It is a good way to learn about the Dutch rulings and regulations on roads, next to get more insights in typical traffic situations you need to master. You can apply for those trainings at different organizations, since no official authorization is needed. For example, take a look at the websites of Theorie-leren.nl and Theory College Netherlands.

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What does the practical diving test look like?

Looking forward to the practical driving test for the Dutch driving license? The exam consists of three important elements:

  1. Before the exam
    At the CBR exam office, you’ll get to know your examiner. He or she explains the rest of the practical exam and checks your ID, wether you passed the theory test and the form Zelfreflectie (self reflection). The form will be handed out by the driving school.

Tip: in most cases, you can ask your driving instructor to come with you during the exam drive. It might help you feel a little bit more comfortable during the exam.

  1. On the parking lot
    The exam starts on the parking lot. The examiner will ask you to read the license plate of a can at about 25 meters of distance. Next, you’ll be asked a few (technical) questions about the car. For example, you need to explain how to check motor fluids or what certain indicator lights at the dashboard mean.
  2. During the exam drive
    The exam drive will take about 35 minutes. The examiner explains you where to drive. You use the navigation system to get to the destination. During the drive, the examiner will check wether you have a good sense of control of the car, look around you safely and give way when needed. Furthermore, you will be asked to do a bijzondere verrichting. It is a special maneuver, to prove you can control the car in specific situations.

Tip: did you pass the Tussentijds Toets (Interim test)? You’ll get an exemption for the bijzondere verrichting at the practical exam.

Important: you cannot apply for the practical exam yourself at the CBR. You need to authorize your driving school.

Can I take driving lessons in a car with automatic transmission?

Are you used to drive a car with an automatic transmission? Or would you like to drive a car with automatic transmissions as soon as you pass for the Dutch driving license? It is possible to take driving lessons in such a car.

Please note that most cars in the Netherlands are equipped with manual transmission. Will you be looking for a used car after you succeed for the exam? Your chances of finding the right pick will be larger if you look for both automatic and manual transmission cars.

Furthermore, if you take driving lessons in a car with an automatic transmission, this will be noted on your driving license. You can only drive cars with an automatic transmission, since you did not practice and prove how to shift gears when driving individually.

 

Where can I find English spoken driving schools in the Netherlands?

Are you looking for an English spoken driving school in the Netherlands to take driving lessons for the Dutch driving license? These are some driving schools you might want to take a look at:

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