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Importing your car to the Netherlands

Looking to import your car to the Netherlands? Check out this guide and learn everything you need to know about importing a car to the Netherlands and buying a car in the Netherlands.

Reasons to import your car (as an expat) to the Netherlands

If you are moving to the Netherlands for your job or some other reason and you already have a car. It may be easier to take your car with you to the Netherlands. Officially you import your car to the Netherlands. In the case of an expat, your car is a movable good and when you move to the Netherlands, you can take your car with you. The reason for this, is that when you already have a car it may easier to take your car with you instead of selling it in your home country and buying a new car in the Netherlands.

In this article we will explain what to do when you want to import and ship your car from another country to the Netherlands. There are a lot of things you have to take into account: how do you ship your car, what are the taxes you need to pay, how do you register your car, is your driving license still valid etc.

Importing your car to the Netherlands

Importing your car from the USA to the Netherlands

If you are moving to the Netherlands from a non-EU-country like the USA, you may register your vehicle tax-free. Therefore a permit is required. You can apply for this permit at the customs office of the intended district of residence before arriving in the Netherlands. 

Within Europe there is a free movement of goods. You do need an import permit for tax-free registration of the vehicle. You get the permit if you have lived in an EU state for at least one year and if you have owned a vehicle for the last half year. Also the vehicle may not be sold within the first year after arrival in the Netherlands.

Things to consider when importing a car from the USA to the Netherlands
There are a few things you need to consider if you want to import a car from the USA to the Netherlands. The first thing is, do you want to sell the imported car later. You can’t compare the cars American people drive in to Dutch cars. For example, right now in the Netherlands compact, city cars are very popular. The can’t compete with the big American pick up, which needs a lot of fuel.

Something else to consider is the difference in fuel prices between the Netherlands and the USA. If we compare the Benzine prices, it costs €0.55 - €0.85 per liter in the USA. In the Netherlands is the average price for a liter Benzine €1.754 at the moment. This is a huge difference which you need to take into account.

Changes you have to make to get an American car approved by EU-law

You need to make some changes to your car to get the car accepted by the European law. First of all, you need to have side lights and a fog lamp next to the normal flashing lights/city lights. The normal flashing lights/city lights need to be white instead of orange. If your car has navigation you also need to change it from America to Europe or the Netherlands. Besides that, the odometer needs to be adapted to kilometers. In Europe, we don’t use miles as an indication for distance and speed but we use kilometers. For example, 1 mile is 1.61 kilometers (km). These changes can me fixed by dealers in the Netherlands.

How to ship your car to the Netherlands

There are different ways to transport your car to the Netherlands. For long distances, the most common is to transport your car on a ship. There are two most used ways to ship your car. The first one is RORO, the second is Container shipping.

1. Import your car via RORO

What is RORO?
RORO means Roll-On/Roll-Off. It is the most affordable way to transport your car. You can ‘park’ the car on a ship like you do in a garage. With RORO the cars are not shielded from for example seawater, storms and winds. Also in the shipyards, there are not protected.

Before you want to ship with RORO, you have to check how frequently the RORO is being accepted.

2. Import your car via container shipping

With container shipping, your car is parked in a container. Eventually, the container is being loaded on a ship, which goes to the chosen destination. With this method, you have the chance to load personal things into your car. There are different kind of containers.

40-Foot container:

This container is the cheapest. Your car goes together with other vehicles in one container. However, the shipper decides which other vehicles also go in the container with your car. You don’t have a say in this yourself. If you want a little more luxury, you can choose to have your car shipped in a container with max 2 cars together. This option limits potential risks and unforeseen damages.

20-Foot container:

It is also possible to rent a container just for your vehicle alone. This is a more expensive way to ship your vehicle. But it also is much safer and quicker. You don’t have to wait for the other cars to load in the container. If you have an expensive car, this may be the best option.

You can also use a driveway service to transport your car. In that case, an individual will drive your vehicle to the delivery destination. You can also choose to use a transport trailer. In this case, there are various options to transport your car. From large trailers with multiple cars to flat bed trailers.

Be careful with choosing your hauler for the ride. For example, check the references about the company and check the insurance profile in case something happens. This option is mostly used with normal cars, like SUVs and sedans. If you have a very expensive car, this option might be too risky.

It is also possible to transport your car by air. The advantage of transporting your car by air is that it is much faster. It only takes two days maximum until the arrival of your car. This method is mostly used when time is an issue and money isn’t.

Import your car via container shipping

Car shipping costs from the USA to the Netherlands

The cost of shipping your car to the Netherlands depends on the kind of container you choose to ship your car with. It starts at €650 and goes up to €4200.

The cost of flying your car to the Netherlands are €6500 to €9000. This depends on the distance (West or East coast).

Cost of driveway service

To make a better indication of the transport costs of a vehicle. Check out this website

Insurance for transporting your vehicle

When you are transporting your car, you also need to take insurance into account. It is very helpful to have an insurance on the vehicle while it is being shipped. There are three most used insurances; All-risk insurance, Total-loss insurance and General Average. All-risk insurance: covers all the problems that may occur. Total-loss insurance: only covers the problems that may occur during transport. General Average: when there are any additional costs required to save the ship from an emergency, these costs are shared proportionally under the shippers.


2 most used ways to transport your vehicle from the USA to the Netherlands:

  • (container)shipping
  • Airplane

The transportation method that is mostly used within Europe is a transport trailer.

Registration of your vehicle in the Netherlands

Expats can only drive their car for half a year without registration. After half a year they also have to register and eventually they also get Dutch license plates. If you want to register your car and get a Dutch license plate, you have to do the following:

1. Make an appointment with the RDW to get an inspection; Here you find the closest RDW station. In this link you can make an appointment. 

2. Have the inspection done (take your car with you).

3. Hand in the needed documents; The documents you need are the full foreign license number certificate, a note on the import document (or a copy thereof). It has been indicated on the import document, by the tax authorities, that it involves a removable article and a valid identity card (a valid identity card = a valid Dutch driving license/passport or identity card, but it may also be an EU or EFTA country identity card, a diplomatic passport, a Dutch travel document for aliens, a Dutch travel document for refugees, a service passport or a foreign passport.

4. Pay the motor vehicle and motorcycle tax (BPM) if applicable.

5. Pay the costs for inspection and license number at the inspection station (RDW). This can be in cash or with the debit card.

6. After this, you get an approval of the ‘Belastingdienst’ and the RDW. You now receive a license number certificate. This has the format of a credit card. Besides you also receive a registration code. This code you may need when you want to sell to the car for example.

*It is important to keep the registration code and the license number certificate number separate. In case your car is being stolen.

7. After receiving the license number certificate you need to get insurance on your car. This needs to be a third party private insurance. On you can compare all the car insurances in the Netherlands with each other. So you can choose the right kind of insurance, which fits your needs.

Compare car insurance on Pricewise

Vehicle taxes

There are two kind of vehicle taxes: Road tax (motorrijtuigenbelasting) and private motor vehicle & motorcycle tax (BPM).

1. Road tax

In Dutch, it is called ‘Motorrijtuigenbelasting’. The road tax is a returning tax. The road tax is a tax for the possession of a car. This tax needs to be paid once a month. It can automatically or manually. There are two reasons you need to pay road tax in the Netherlands. First of all, you have to pay road tax for the maintenance and expansion of the road network.  The second reason is for the caused air pollution by motor vehicles.
The exact amount of road tax depends on the car. You can calculate the exact amount here. The heavier the car is, the more tax you have to pay. Also when it is a Diesel you have to pay more than Benzine. But the amount of tax also depends on the province you live in the Netherlands.

Below you can see a short overview of the road tax:


Gasoline and natural gas



LPG and others


€116 - €3976

€376 - €6544

€116 - €6440

€420 - €6812


€108 - €3692

€368 - €6220

€108 - €6156

€412 - €6528


€104 - €3512

€364 - €6080

€104 - €5976

€408 - €6348


€116 - €3920

€376  - €6488

€116 - €6384

€420 - €6752


€116 - €3908

€376 - €6476

€116 - €6372

€420 - €6740


€108 - €3688

€368 - €6256

€108 - €6152

€412 - €6520


€108 - €3652

€368 - €6216

€108 - €6116

€412 - €6484


€104 - €3480

€364 - €6048

€104 - €5948

€408 -€6316


€112 - €3728

€368 - €6296

€112 - €6192

€416 -€6564


€108 - €3580

€364 - €6144

€108 - €6044

€412 - €6412


€112 - €3776

€372 - €6344

€112 - €6240

€416 - €6612


€116 - €3964

€376 - €6532

€116 - €6428

€420 - €6800


The minimum price you have to pay is for a car with the weight between 0 to 550 kilograms. The maximum price you have to pay is the weight of the car from 4951 to 5050 kilograms. As said, the amount of road tax depends on a lot of factors. To calculate the exact amount, go to

2. Private motor vehicle & motorcycle tax

This is called BPM. BPM can be a really big amount. For expats, there is an exception. Because for expats a car is a removal good. If you fill out the form, you can find it here. The conditions for this exceptions are that you must have lived for more than a year in another country and that the car is yours for already half a year. It takes a little bit of time to fill out all the forms and make an appointment to confirm the exception for paying BPM. The Private motor vehicle & motorcycle tax (BPM) is a tax that only needs to be paid once in the beginning. It Is not a returning tax, as said before. There is an exception for expats so they don’t have to pay the BPM. This is because they are moving and not importing a car.

Is my driving license still valid in the Netherlands?

Is my driving license still valid in the Netherlands?

There is a difference between EU-countries and non-EU countries. After 6 months you need to convert your driving license to a Dutch driving license. If your driving license is issued by an EU-country apply different rules, then when your driving license is issued by a non-EU country.


If your driving license is issued in an EU country, then it’s recognized throughout Europe. This means you can drive everywhere in Europe with your driving license. Of course your driving license must be valid, it may not be suspended or restricted and it may not be revoked in the issuing country.

Non-EU countries:

When your driving license is not issued by an EU country there are some things you need to know.  For the first 185 days after registration in the Netherlands, you are allowed to drive with a non-EU driving license. After those 185 days, you need to get a Dutch driving license to drive in the Netherlands. In some cases, it is possible to exchange your driving license into a Dutch driving license. For people from the USA, it is unfortunately not possible to exchange their driving license. The reason for this is that the states of the USA don’t all have the same exam requirements. Therefore it is not possible for the Netherlands (and the other EU countries) to come to an agreement of the possibility to exchange driving licenses. 

What to do when you have an USA driving  license and you want a Dutch driving license?

In case you have an USA driving license, you have to do the Dutch driving license exam. This exam consists of two parts: a theoretical exam and a practical exam. In the theoretical exam, there are two main subjects who are being tested: danger recognition and traffic regulations/traffic insight. In the practical exam, the examiner checks whether you can drive safely and independently. And whether you take sufficient account of other road users. For more information on how to get a Dutch driving license, go to

Difference between importing within Europe or outside 

Within Europe, we have the rule of free movement of goods. This means you can import a car without paying import duties. Transporting your car within Europe is for this really easy. Only if you’re staying in another country for a longer time period you have to legislate the car.

If you are importing your car from outside of Europe to the Netherlands you have to arrange the shipment, Dutch license plates, registration at the RDW etc. It takes more time, you have to pay all the taxes and even make some adaptions to the car to get approved for the European Law.

Importing an electric car to the Netherlands

Electric cars can be more lucrative to import to the Netherlands than other cars. The biggest advantage of importing an electric car is that you don’t have to pay the BPM. BPM is being calculated based on the CO2 emissions and electric cars don’t have this. This rule applies to at least the beginning of 2020. This can save you a lot of money. But it has more advantages compared to other cars.

  • You don’t have to pay motor vehicle and motorcycle tax (this rule applies till at least 2020).
  • There are considerably less moving parts in an electrically driven car compared to car with internal combustion engines. These parts are easy to repair and this is beneficial for maintenance costs.
  • Possibility to drive on self-generated energy.
  • A low addition for business use (4%)
  • No CO2 emissions while driving

5 steps you need to take to import a car to the Netherlands

To sum up what exactly you need to do to import a car to the Netherlands. There are 5 steps, that guide you through the process of importing a car to the Netherlands.

1 Finding your perfect vehicle

2 Calculate the BPM: if it’s smart and profitable to import your car to the Netherlands depends on the amount of BPM you need to pay.

3 Transporting your car to the Netherlands

4 The RDW inspection

5 BPM declaration and issuing a Dutch registration 

Total costs of importing a car to the Netherlands

There are a lot of costs when importing a car to the Netherlands. In this article the most costs are already mentioned. But here is a summary:

  • Transporting the car to the Netherlands + the insurance for during the transportation of the vehicle
  • Paying the BPM (motor vehicle and motorcycle tax)
  • Registration of the vehicle at the RDW station
  • Insurance of the car


Importing a car is very time-consuming process. Shipping your car to the Netherlands can take 10 up to 30 days. This depends on the location of your car. When your car is in a Dutch harbor, for example Rotterdam, it can take again up to two weeks to get your car transported to your location. After this you need to let your car get approved by the RDW and registrate the car for a Dutch license plate. First you have to make an appointment at the RDW, the appointment itself takes about a day. This depends on the car. The whole paperwork can take a lot of time. Overall it needs 2 to 3 months.

Considering to buy a car in the Netherlands?

If you are moving to the Netherlands and importing your car to the Netherlands is not an option:

Moving to the Netherlands is already a lot of work and moving your car with you even more. You can easily buy your car online at Bynco makes it easier for expats to buy a car while you just moved to the Netherlands.

Bynco is a 100% online second-hand car webshop. You can choose your car online, order it and it will be delivered to your new home in the Netherlands. Bynco doesn’t refer to other dealers. Bynco is acknowledged by the RDW, the inspection station you have to deal with as mentioned earlier in this article to import your car. Also, Bynco uses an independent third-party bank account with GoCredible. This is to be sure that your money is being safely transferred when you accept the car.

Do not hesitate to contact the webshop via the chat on the website or by email. If you want to find out more about what Bynco can mean for you during the process of buying a car in the Netherlands go to and read more about the company and find out what other expats think of Bynco. 

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