Buying a car in the Netherlands: 6 things to know

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Have you thought about buying a car in the Netherlands? Is your old car crumbling to pieces? Or have you just moved and are in search of your perfect Dutch car?

You’ve gone through opening a bank account in the Netherlands, worked yourself silly, and stuffed that account full of euros for your car.

Although it may seem like scary foreign territory, we can help you make sense of it all in these six things you need to know about buying a car in the Netherlands. If we can do it, then you can do it too!

1. You need to have the correct driving license

Before you even begin the whole task of buying a car in the Netherlands, you must hold a valid driving license. In the Netherlands, that means you need to have an EU/EFTA license.

If you already hold one, then this means that you can drive on this license for 10 years or until it runs out (then you must switch to a Dutch driver’s license).

Man-holding-up-his-drivers-license-for-buying-a-car-in-the-netherlands
Making sure you have the right driver’s license to buy a car in the Netherlands is easy! Image: Depositphotos

If you want a Dutch driver’s license before you buy a car in the Netherlands and it’s been more than three months since you registered, just make an appointment with your local Stadhuis (city hall) to get an updated proof of residency (€12 fee, sorry!).

Then send off your license, passport photo, and Certificate of Medical Fitness to the Driving Test Organisation, and the municipality will exchange them. Now you’re good to go.

2. You need to research your cars beforehand

Make sure you do your research before buying a car in the Netherlands. You don’t want to end up with a car with a reputation for being unreliable (or expensive to run!) or a car that was not looked after by its previous owners.

Car-sales-manager-helping-customers-buy-a-car-in-the-Netherlands
Check out as many cars as you need before you commit to something. Image: Depositphotos

Bynco offers a quick-scan survey where you can fill in all your car preferences and find out exactly which second-hand car is for you! You can reach out without language barrier worries and easily find which car suits your needs best.

Buying a car is an investment, so you must choose a car that’s right for you. Consider a few things like whether you’re using the car for your daily commute, for road trips, or just for convenience, the size of the car (especially important for road tax!), and the mileage.

After you’ve thought about these factors, you can narrow your car search and save time only by looking at cars that’ll fit your preferences.

3. Be prepared to haggle

If you’re going to a car dealership, or especially a private seller, then nine times out of 10, be prepared to haggle! This can be stressful if you’re someone like me who doesn’t like to haggle (or even know how to haggle in the Netherlands).

I can’t even begin to count the number of times I’ve gone away with a rubbish deal from an equally rubbish haggle. My partner and I ended up turning up at a car dealership with a parent to help us (not practical).

Not a fan of haggling? Well, it’s not compulsory. A site like Bynco sets a fixed price from the get-go, so there’s no need for you all to spend time fretting over it. What you see is what you get.

4. You must register with the RDW to buy a car in the Netherlands

You may have found your dream car by now, but now what? The car is not officially yours until you register it in your name. You need to go to the RDW for that. The RDW (Rijksdienst voor het Wegverkeer) is the Dutch authority for vehicles and transport.

You must register your cars with them because they deal with road tax and liability insurance, and you agree to those terms. Without registering, it is illegal to drive that car.

Registering-your-car-when-buying-a-car-in-the-netherlands
Make sure you go through the proper steps to register your car. Image: Depositphotos

So, how do I go about this? If you’re an expat, the chances are that you don’t have a Dutch ID. If you do, all you have to do is turn up at your local post office with your ID and all car/registration documents, and you’re all set.

If you don’t have a Dutch ID, you’re going to have to go to an RDW inspection station. Bring your gemeente (municipality) documents, car documents, certificate of ownership, passport, and driver’s license!

Tip: Before you start looking into buying a car in the Netherlands, make sure you set up your BSN (citizen service number) and DigiD. The car-purchasing process will be so much easier if you have these two things set up beforehand.

Thankfully, there is a way to avoid all of this. If you buy your car from a good car dealership, they take care of the official registration at RDW. It’s one less thing not to worry about.

5. Double-check your road tax and parking permits

Part of the reason why buying a car is so expensive comes from all the associated costs you have to consider. Road tax (known as BPM in the Netherlands) is the private motor vehicle and motorcycle tax you have to pay if you own any type of motor vehicle.

READ MORE | Having a car in the Netherlands: everything you need to know

BPM is calculated based on your car’s CO2 emissions, so generally, the larger the car, the higher the BPM.

If you live in an area where you have to pay for car parking (usually in the big cities like Amsterdam and Rotterdam), you can apply for a parking permit with the municipality. This permit is particularly handy because it lets you park in the city without paying at a parking meter or via a parking app.

Most homes don’t have their own parking spaces or garages, and if you’re travelling a lot within a city using your car, a parking permit could be extra handy to save on these costs.

Tip: If you plan to own an electric vehicle, look into and sort out what you’re going to do about your charging station. If you don’t have the option to charge at home, you can work out your situation with shared charging stations around your neighbourhood with your neighbours.

6. Don’t forget your car insurance

It’s official, you have a car! Before you get too excited and drive off with it happily, you’ve forgotten one more thing: car insurance. It’s illegal not to have car insurance in the Netherlands, so this is a must before driving off with your new ‘whip’.

Person-finding-car-insurance-when-buying-a-car-in-the-netherlands
Don’t have car insurance yet? Better be safe than sorry! Image: Depositphotos

You can go on online comparison sites (some are in English too). Pick the best deal, register with them and you’re all set. (Now it’s just the paying every month you have to worry about 😉).

Good to know: Your car is insured, not the person, so anybody can drive your car legally with permission. This may be different from what you’re used to in your home country.


Once you’ve got all of these in the bag, then you’re well on your way to buying your perfect car in the Netherlands. Enjoy your new car!

Did these tips help you on your car-purchasing journey? Tell us what you think in the comments!

This article was originally published in June 2018, and was fully updated in April 2022 for your reading pleasure.

Feature Image:Depositphotos
Emma Brown
Emma Brown
A familiar face at DutchRevew. Emma arrived in Holland in 2016 for a few weeks, fell in love with the place and never left. Here she rekindled her love of writing and travelling. Now you'll find her eating stroopwafels in the DutchReview office since 2017.

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18 COMMENTS

  1. Fact number 7. When you are due for your APK (MOT) the Dutch garage will automatically assume you are an idiot and try to trick you into thinking there are a number of things wrong with your car that need to be repaired. Survey proved that 70% of garages in Holland do this. Especially if you are a foreigner!

  2. Its the same as in every country,even if I bought and atill buy my trucks in the states.You have to check it yourself and if you havent the experience just call a garage and ask if they check your car which you want to buy and you can always search for car clubs and post you questions.There is always one who wants to help you out.Its just that you find the one who has the same ” feeling” about that kind of car you looking for.
    I found somewhone who has the same intrest inClassic Ford Trucks in Colton and I fully can trust the guy.There will be always persons who You can trust,sometimes it takes a while but I m happy to find him and he is a friens for life.
    Thanks Justin

  3. Some points like no 6 are not entirely correct. If you insure a car but the main driver is your child, as in a beginning driver, this will be a peoblem.
    Btw there are a lot of sites with cars. Of your Bynco I never heard. But AutoScout24 and marktplaats sell the most cars here.
    Haggling is fun and gets you a good deal! Don’t be shy!

  4. I must say, I am impressed with this article. It includes all the necessary information which is required to buy a car. I would like to appreciate your efforts and the time that you have had spent to write this article. Great work!! Keep it up ! 🙂

    • Hello

      Any advice in how to get a very cheap car( less than 1000 e)?, I need it for sleeping untilI find a room in Amsterdam. i dont want to pay 1000-2000 e for a month on a hostel, so I think is better this way so I can later sell the car and get my money back.

      Thanks.

  5. Hello!
    Good tips!
    But I don’t have an adress in Netherlands or Europe. I have portuguese and brazilian passport.
    Do you know if can I buy and do a regular registration a car without adress there?

    • Lety, If you don’t have an address, you don’t have a BSN and thus you can get nothing. If you have both passports the one that matters is your PT one.
      Exchange driving license depends on which country your license is issued but again, everything starts with a settlement.

  6. Is there a way to pay another person to buy a car on you behalf? I have no idea about car mechanics and I’d like to buy a really cheap car. I do not really need it, is just for convenience. I will use it maybe once or twice per month, no more than 1k per year, so paying more than 2k would be stupid.

    Bynco sounds great BUT they only have cars from 5k euro.

    • If you just use a car once or twice per month, it might be better to look into car renting such as with Greenwheels. The tax and insurance is so high that it’s a lot better to just rent a car if you wouldn’t use it much. I use a car about 4-5 times a month and I still use Greenwheels as it saves me money.

    • Why dont you get a electric scooter?, no insurance, no bs paper work, etc.

      I am in a similar situation I also want to get a cheap car, but for sleeping inside until I find a room in Amsterdam

  7. Thank you very much for this Article. It is very helpful. We bought a car on Bynco and so far we are very happy with the service.
    What I would add to the article would be some information about parking permission. How to get it, where etc. Since it’s not less complicated than the all the steps mentioned above

  8. We bought a var but we have been told that we need a Dutch or EU driving licence.
    My licence is Turkish,
    Can not i get insurance?
    I bought the car with my bsn.

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