7 things to know before owning a car in the Netherlands in 2023

Are you thinking of owning a car in the Netherlands? You’ve come to the right place!

Being a car owner, there are a few things to know about owning a car in the Netherlands. It may seem like a momentous task and a lot to get your head around, but owning a car in the Netherlands doesn’t need to be stressful (shocking, we know).

Anyway, without further ado, here are seven things to know before you buy yourself a new car in the Netherlands.

1. Parking in cities is expensive

We hate to break it to you, but owning a car in the Netherlands is really expensive β€” especially in larger cities. The average hourly rate is €2.80 an hour, but you can expect to pay €3-4 an hour in cities like The Hague, Utrecht, and Rotterdam, and as much as €7.50 in Amsterdam city centre.

It’s good to keep in mind if you are looking for a new place to live or working out commuting costs. It’s common to need a parking permit too, and that will drive up monthly costs on a tight budget. If you’re renting a house in the Netherlands, ask about this.

Apps such as Parkopedia are what we use to let me know the cost of parking. These apps are needed if you’re living and parking in the Netherlands.

2. The car must have an up-to-date APK

The APK consists of those dreaded safety checks that you need your car to have every once in a while. No one wants unsafe cars on the road, but it’s scary to take your car in for the APK as it can cost you a bomb if it fails.

This is an appointment you DO NOT want to procrastinate on. Image: Depositphotos

When you get a car, you need to ensure that the APK is on time before its expiration. You don’t want to have a car that’s due for its APK at any minute β€” it could be costly. It’s good to keep this check-up in mind if you’re planning on owning a car in the Netherlands.

How much is the APK?

The APK varies in price depending on where you take it, from as low as €20 to as high as €75. We paid €50 the last time we got ours, but the average price for an APK falls between €30 and €60.

Careful if you are swayed by how cheap some seem. Usually, the catch is if anything is wrong, you will have to get it fixed there, and that could be much higher than your local garage. Remember to look into this.

How often does my car need an APK?

If your car is less than three years old, you’d need an APK before it turns three. Up until it’s 10 years old, your car needs an APK annually or every two years. The RDW will send you a reminder six weeks before the APK on your car expires.

3. You need to have a valid driving license

If you just moved to the Netherlands and do not have a Dutch driving license, you can drive with your license for 185 days after registering. This does not apply to EU/EEA driving licenses, where you can use these for 15 years (from the date of the license) or when your driving license expires (whichever happens first).

Note: This is only for categories AM, A1, A2, A, B and BE. For the other categories: C1, C, D1, D, C1E, CE, D1E and DE, you can only drive on it for five years (from the date on the driving license). If this time has gone, it will be for two years from registration.

So, if you’re only here for your holidays and have an EU/EEA license, then no worries, you’re completely okay to drive around here to your heart’s content on your foreign license. If not, make sure it adheres to the Vienna Convention or you’ll have to get an international license too!

After these periods are up, you’ll have to switch to a Dutch driving license or take a new driving exam. This also applies if you are issued a license from your country after registering β€” you must exchange it for a Dutch one.

4. Take into consideration road and car taxes

When owning a car in the Netherlands, you’re going to have to pay your taxes. Road tax in the Netherlands is all dependent on a variety of different factors. These include the fuel (diesel is much, much more), the type of car you have, the weight of the car, where you live, how old the car is, and the CO2 admissions of the car.

Road tax is just one of the few maintenance costs you’ll have to keep in mind when owning a car in the Netherlands. Image: Depositphotos

Before owning a car in the Netherlands, it’s worth checking how much tax you would pay on average. You can check with the Belastingdienst to see how much that is.

This way you will know what you’re paying per month, so you can make a good decision on what car you’d like and what you can afford

5. Your car should have the right insurance

Getting car insurance in the Netherlands is relatively easy. There are comparison sites out there that ensure you can get the best deal on your car insurance (a few in English too).

Note: If you’ve been driving for years in another country and have been collecting those no-claims bonuses, I’m sorry that this won’t carry over here. You’re back at year one, so are paying the most expensive premium.

However, as the years go on it will go down again (frustrating, we know). We ended up getting a small car which was one of the cheapest to put insurance on, so once the years add up we could afford a bigger car once the insurance goes down.

Make sure to read into the policy and know what you are signing up for. The car is insured in the Netherlands, not the person (which is different to some countries, like the UK). This means that other people can drive your car with permission, and it’s insured.

6. Financing your car in the Netherlands is possible

Looking at owning a car in the Netherlands, but your bank balance just won’t allow it? Don’t fret. Financing your car in the Netherlands as an ex-pat is possible. For example, there are plenty of expat-friendly companies that will find a loan that is suitable for you.

Even if it’s expensive, there are still some ways to make owning a car in the Netherlands a little easier. Image: Depositphotos

Choose your amount, what your living situation is like and they will suggest a suitable loan. You can choose the duration that you want to run the loan for and whether you want a fixed loan.

This way you can still get a car but not be lumped with paying thousands all in one go. Some money lenders only accept contracts of minimally three years with expats when it comes to owning a car in the Netherlands.

7. Owning a car in the Netherlands can be expat-friendly

If you’re looking at owning a second-hand car in the Netherlands then buying one doesn’t have to be a stressful task. Being an international makes things feel 10 times more stressful for many different reasons, such as foreign driving license worry and the language barrier β€” but trust us, it doesn’t have to be the case.

READ MORE | Why driving in the Netherlands is stressful: My experience of living in the Netherlands

If you consider these seven things, you’re well on your way to owning a car in the Netherlands. Happy driving!

Are you thinking of owning a car in the Netherlands? What other tips do you have? Let us know in the comments.

Editor’s Note: This article was originally published in January 2019 but was fully updated in May 2022 to bring you the most up-to-date information.

Feature Image:Pexels
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.

Liked it? Try these on for size:

What do you think?


  1. Do you need a home address in the Netherlands before you can register a car or buy a car and put it in your name.

  2. I relocated to the Netherlands from the UK circa 3 years ago and Dutch insurers did accept the no-claim discounts I brought forward. So, unless something has changed recently, this article includes incorrect pieces of information.

  3. I moved to the Netherlands from a EU country about one year ago, bought a car a few months after and I have to say It’s been an easy and pleasant experience.
    As a motorcyclist I dream of one day finally bring my Harley here, which is currently sitting alone in my parent’s garage.
    Is there an painless and not-too-expensive way to bring her here (aside from the transport expenses, of course)?

  4. You actually can transfer your damage free years/no claims discount from another country to the Netherlands. This is what I did after living in Germany previously. What you have to do is get your old insurance to provide you with a certificate showing you’ve made no claims for however long and then send this to your dutch insurance provider. I did this with Unive with no problems, as long as the document was at least in English, but they still would’ve taken it in German.

  5. E se invece.da Italiano volessi portarla in Italia ed immatricolarla.li come faccio a.portarla in Italia guidandola ?


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

The latest Dutch news.
In your inbox.