Driving Tips, Rules & Regulations in the Netherlands

Bicycles and trams are the staple modes of transport in the Netherlands, but driving a car can be a convenient option, especially for those who really want to get around. Foreign visitors, however, just need to be familiar with the practices and rules about driving in Netherlands.

The legal driving age is 18 years old, but those who are 16 years old can drive a moped (category AM) that runs under 45 km/h. On top of a driver’s license, third party liability insurance is compulsory for all drivers.

If you are from Liechtenstein, Iceland, or Norway, or any European Union member state, you can use your locally issued driver’s license. There are also local licenses from other countries that can be traded in for a Dutch one. To be able to exchange, the license must still be valid and have been issued within one year while the applicant became a resident of the Netherlands.

You are required to keep in your car the required documents (driving license, vehicle registration, and motor insurance). While it’s not required, it’s also best that you keep with you a red warning triangle and a reflective vest just in case you need them. The Dutch drive on the right side, and vehicles coming from the right have the right of way. On the road, cyclists, buses, and trams have a right of way wherever applicable. Watch out for cyclists – there will be a lot of them on the road.

Wear your seatbelt at all times and never use your mobile phone whilst driving – use a hands free kit if you need to make a call on the go. Take note that the mere holding of a mobile phone while inside a car is considered a violation.

Laws against drunk driving are strictly imposed in the Netherlands. The limit is 0. 5 grams of alcohol per liter, with a special limit for those who’ve had their license for less than 5 years (0. 2g per liter). Allowing a person to drive while under the influence of alcohol is also considered an offence. Dutch roads are always busy, but fortunately they are in good condition. You’ll find that the signs posted are just like the ones you’ll see in most European countries. There are, however, no motorways in the Netherlands.

Speed limit are:

  • 120 – 100 km/h on the freeways
  • 100 km/h for the national roads
  • 50 km/h in the built-up areas
  • 80 km/h for all other roads

Try to be familiar with words that might come in handy when you’re driving in Netherlands. Some words like “diesel”, “motorolie” (motor oil), “tankstation” (gas station), or “tol” (toll) are pretty easy to make out. Words like “autoverhuurbedrijf” (car rental agency), “wegomleiding” (detour), “oprit” (entrance), and “afrit” (exit), take some getting used to.

The Dutch have a “park and ride” scheme, where parking spaces are often found in areas outside the immediate city in order to reduce congestion. From there, drivers have to get to where they want to go via public transport. So it’s also important to be familiar with public transport as well.

Summary

The legal driving age is 18 years old for a car.
Third party liability insurance is compulsory for all drivers.
You can use your locally issued driver's license from all European Union member state.
You must keep with you your driving license, vehicle registration, and motor insurance at all times.
The Dutch drive on the right side, and vehicles coming from the right have the right of way.
Wear your seatbelt at all times and never use your mobile phone whilst driving.
Dutch roads are always busy, but they are in good condition.

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