All internationals now required to get a bike license to cycle in the Netherlands

Update: Een april, kikker in je bil (April 1, frog in your butt)! Alright, the Dutch expression doesn’t quite work in English, but yes, April Fools!


Earlier: The Dutch Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management has announced that all internationals residing in the Netherlands will soon require a fiets rijbewijs (biking license) to cycle in the Netherlands.

Under the tagline of “Veilig fietsen: door iedereen, voor iedereen” (safe cycling: by everyone, for everyone), this decision comes as a country-wide initiative to make biking safer for everyone.

Prime Minister Mark Rutte explains: “Individuals that struggle on the bicycle can keep up traffic, or even put others in danger. Most of the time, these people happen to be internationals. This is an issue that can and should be resolved.”

The new law is set to go into effect on July 1, 2023.

Like driving education, but for bicycles

Similar to the bike exam that Dutch schoolchildren take, internationals living, or coming to live in the Netherlands will soon have to take a test in which they prove that they’re fit to cycle on Dutch roads.

READ MORE | Slow down! The municipality of Amsterdam pushes for a bike speed limit

The final exam will test expats’ knowledge in four categories: traffic signs, priority rules, bike-related vocabulary, and bicycle safety equipment.

Resistance in parliament

The new measure caused many heated debates in the Dutch parliament. While the liberal party D66 viewed it as “discriminatory and unnecessary,” they were overridden by other parties who were in favour of the rule.

READ MORE | How to use your bike like a real Dutchie: from trampling pedestrians to running red lights 

However, the recently elected BBB party, which views bicycling as “Hollandsche glorie” (Dutch glory), pushed hard for the implementation of the law, leaning on the expertise of the Dutch Cyclist’s Union.

A spokesperson from this union, which had been advocating for this rule for years, explains: “It’s not about discrimination, it’s about keeping our streets, and our people safe.” 😬

How will it work in practice?

The Dutch government is investing €13 million in total into the launch, delegating the funds to the opening of testing centres, the development of exams, and overall safer cycling conditions.

READ MORE | I stopped at the red light: Amsterdam installs button that displays number of good cyclists

Though the project still needs to be finalised, a spokesperson from the government has answered some burning questions.

“If you fail the test three times, you will be considered a danger to society, and the government will opt out of issuing you a bike license. In those cases, public transport will be your best friend,” he explains. 😳

Some further measures include the following:

  • Internationals will need to wear a bright orange helmet at all times.
  • If you fail to present your cycling license to the politie, you will be charged a fine of €120, and your bike will be deposited in the nearest canal.
  • If you cycle without a license, you will be forced to fish bikes out of the canals following big public holidays such as King’s Day. (This is meant to show what can happen to those who don’t cycle safely.)
  • If you cycle while intoxicated, your license will immediately be revoked, you will not be allowed to bike in the Netherlands again, and you must gift your bike to an officer in training.
  • Tourists and learners may use adult-size tricycles in flashy colours for safety and in order to alert cyclists to their learner status.

What do you think about the Netherlands’ decision to implement a cycling license for internationals? Tell us in the comments!

Feature Image:Depositphotos
Lyna Meyrer 🇱🇺
Lyna Meyrer 🇱🇺
Say 'hoi' to Lyna, our Senior Writer at DutchReview! Fueled by a love for writing, social media, and all things Dutch, she joined the DR family in 2022. Since making the Netherlands her home in 2018, she has collected a BA in English Literature & Society (Hons.) and an RMA in Arts, Literature and Media (Hons.). Even though she grew up just a few hours away from the Netherlands, Lyna remains captivated by the guttural language, quirky culture, and questionable foods that make the Netherlands so wonderfully Dutch.

142 COMMENTS

  1. Please tell me this is a “April Fools” article. The Dutch cyclists are often a danger to themselves and others with how recklessly they cycle. 🙈

  2. This is ridiculous the majority of the time Are Dutch people who don’t respect the traffic lights etc.
    I think Dutch government should discuss more important topic like the costs of life which is becoming absurd, rather than find ways to punt in major difficulties people who use the bike to go to work!!

  3. This is ridiculous the majority of the time Are Dutch people who don’t respect the traffic lights, they go in 2 on 1 bike!! I think Dutch government should discuss more important topic like the costs of life which is becoming absurd, rather than find ways to punt in major difficulties people who use the bike to go to work!!

  4. ROFL – Is this a April fool’s prank?
    If yes, I must admit, it is a great effort! Always love reading the posts from Dutch Review!

  5. On this same day a year ago–coincidence? I don’t think so–my daughter called from Paris to say she’d fallen off her bike in the snow and that a stranger had accidentally stepped on her wrist, crushing it, so she would be unlikely to be able to write again for some time.

  6. “ Internationals will need to wear a bright orange helmet at all times.“
    This is ridiculous and totally discriminatory.
    The lessons and test are okay, but the helmets are completely non-sense.
    I would move from de Netherlands if this rule will be in place.

  7. “Internationals will need to wear a bright orange helmet at all times”
    What’s next? Asking jews to wear special badge in public?!

  8. So I am living in the Netherlands for 11 years already. I obtained(not changed) my motorcycle license type A here in the Netherlands in 2015. I had proper lessons and exams, all in Dutch. Tomorrow I can ride a scooter without the need of an additional license. And I need to take a bicycle license to ride my bicycle? And wear an orange helmet? I don’t even understand what the colour has to do with that. Is about safety or proper discrimination. Like inmates wearing a uniform? And If I am a bigger threat to the Dutch people on the bike lanes, and a license need to be obtain, children shouldn’t be allowed on the bike lanes as well. Am I as a 38 year old more of a threat than an 11 year old, that didn’t ride or drive on a public road even one time?? Damn… That’s a shame. We all moved here for a better future, don’t make us regret our decision….

  9. How to tell the difference between a Dutchie and an international rider.
    Does this apply to ALL internationals? Professional tour riders?
    Nobel idea but not practical at all.
    South Africa.

  10. It’s a so ridiculous and discrimination. I’ve never seen a bike caused a serious traffic accidents like a car, however, the new law to internationationals bikers are severe.

  11. This is nonsense, they just want a way to extract money from people. What a bullshit law,every weekend I see a few Dutch people cycling drunk or with a phone in one hand and no police around to give them a ticket. What a joke this government has become.

  12. There are thousands of teenagers with Dutch nationality who ride their bikes super fast and don’t stop when a pedestrian is going to pass.
    Those silly children who have 2,500-euro bikes and go at full speed, no police stops them.
    I am 53 years old and I never had a car or driver’s license, I only get around by bicycle, I have been in the Netherlands for 4 years. Because being Italian
    I have to take an exam! It doesn’t seem fair to me.

  13. This is a joke, a descremination, a xenophobia! Scooters and electric bikes are much more dangerous, not just to talk the increasing number of acidentes that they are responsible because of the speed and the government’s don’t have hand on then and now the internacionales are the ones that pay…
    I will leave Netherlands if this clowning is really going to be real.

  14. Nice article for the 1st of April Only 😀
    See some in the orange helmet fishing their orange bikes from the canal!

  15. Wearing an orange Helmet only for expats? Is this a joke?
    Then how they say this is not discrimination?!
    While I’m cycling I confront lots of dutchies who don’t cycle safely, they block the way, they cycle in the middle of the way, they don’t warn others when they turn, they carry heavy stuff with their bike while they are hardly stable… then you want to put a helmet on expats heads? Unbelievable

  16. I would be more concerned about nederlanders, driving on the roads and motorways in the nederlands, they are very aggressive drivers and have no curiosity, ie( everyone thinks they are Max V ) for other road users, i would begin there
    before I lay fault with cyclists. I would start a tv campaign that everyone is just as important as the next person, the everyone would complete there journey safely.

  17. Discrimination at it’s finest. Most of the time it’s the Dutchies that are breaking the law anyways.

    Entitled laws, for entitled people, living in an entitled country. Please go back to water management.

  18. The rules should be applied for everyone on the roads not just internationals.
    Wearing helmet should be only until you pass your exam after that it shouldn’t be. That’s a total discrimination against someone who is equally qualified to ride on the roads.

  19. I think all the Dutch literature about racism have been written for a reason. And far right people are Known for not being so curious to read.

  20. Why limit this to foreigners? Old Dutchies whizzing around on e-bikes could use some compulsory training. I recommend pink helmets.

  21. Racist country im delivery rider the Dutch people ok is your coubtry but dont know how to cycle i avoid hundred accidents with this bad prople because im smart

  22. “and you must gift your bike to an officer in training.” i consider legalised theft. And the bright yellow hats.. I hope this was just a bad sense of awareness.

  23. Yeah this is bullshit, i have been driving bicycle my whole life now i have to pretend im stupid because they want to fill the budget with us. And the Dutch are usually the ones that drive like they are drunk starting from elderly to teens…

  24. Its very complicated and hard decision for the new people because they have already enrolled with the new hard life so one thing they can sport and fresh thier minds is bicycle riding ..

  25. What is next , yellow stars on clothing ? Bright orange helmets, why not point out targets to rob in tourist spots? This is illegal and discriminatory, the dutch on the whole treat indicators as optional but now expats must sit a exam to prove they can ride a bike that they have been riding for years without incident , the 120 euro on the spot fines sound like a way to rake people to raise money. Someone throws my bicycle in the nearest river police officer or not they are going in after it, if they do not fish it out they stay in the water until they do or they drown, this will put the police in direct violent confrontation with anyone not dutch. How is this not theft, vandalism, pollution of the rivers , if you want the expats to leave just say so, if you hate us that much. This is discrimination , theft for demanding money for testing that is not required. I would love to see the official figures and proof of where they got this bullshit data on non dutch holding up the roads, traffic issues are down to hesitation and not being familiar with the roads as in geographically. What will you do with all electric fiets ? Demand that the people with dutch driving licences wear orange helments to highlight how the netherlands is becoming racist and fascist ?

  26. I agree with both sides, that on one it can come across discriminatory to internationals, but on the other hand its safe to assume the internationals haven’t had the same bicycling practice drilled into them like the Dutch due to their heavily bike-related cultural upbringing.
    However, I think forcing internationals to wear orange helmets feels almost like bullying and humiliation. Theres one thing having to generalise for the safety of your society (aka making internationals get biking liscencing), but then theres ‘hey let’s make you wear our national colour on your head to show everyone you’re not one of us, but one of them’. Disgusting. If this is true, I’m going to really consider moving from this country.

  27. A bicycle is a non powered form of transport, thus is licence exempt , which is ridden on cycle lanes, so how does this hold up traffic , if there are internationals holding up traffic , there will be equally the same number of dutch doing equally stupid things on the road, the dutch are not the master race on driving , riding , perhaps unless you want open fights between police and public do not introduce discriminatory laws that will entitle dutch police (thugs in this case) to victimize and harass non dutch, illegal in all other countries other than the netherlands as of the 1st of july. Dutch are not even required to wear helmets on bicycles, so why the double standard ? Public transport is a joke as an alternative as one it requires funds to use, second it requires knowing which public transport to use. Could this just be a law to reduce the number of people on bicycles before they try to implement central bank digital currency and 15 minute city’s ? If the dutch insist on internationals as we are to be called now , then understand that anyone who targets me as a target because i have to wear a orange helmet to segregate me from the dutch people (so much for integration or europe ) if they try to treat me as a victim , i will put them down as the threat they are, broken bones , torn flesh, it will be them that came to the lion , the one you highlighted as potential victim . I would seriously suggest before trying to implement the german final solution with orange helmets substituting yellow stars , you think long and hard at how that ended for all the bright spark german xenophobic generals, we could ask them if they had not all been hung at the end of the second world war. Discrimination against someone based on there nationality is illegal, it is a method to separate and divide communities , if the powers at be wish to go thru with this , I will no longer sit on the side lines and allow them to act against the people , there utter trash explanation if it causes traffic problems in a country that has dedicated cycle lanes is total and utter garbage, it is lies to bring in a law by what i can now only see as mr Rutt must by his actions trying to force this through as he is racist and xenophobic , this is what the data supports, I am open to mr Rutts explanation on what is clearly a money grab and removal of citizens rights, I seem to remember not so long ago that everyone was being told to take a vaccine as it was in everyone’s best interest, how exactly are the excess deaths going now ? Nobody wants to discus this in mainstream news, i wonder why ? Perhaps as you knew it would cause excess deaths ? Could that be why you do not ask the questions, as you know the answers and it opens the government to massive liabilty . Shall we keep going with ridiculous laws ? Or would you like more of your illegal actions to come to light. I am both disgusted and infuriated that the dutch government would try to do this, perhaps when a few people have been robbed or police beaten to death they will change there minds about what seems a innocent little power grab. I urge the dutch government to consider there next move very very carefully .

  28. When reading this, I thought I was reading an article of The Onion but then I realized this website is not like that. This is complete B.S… All the references are pointing to general sources, none of them confirm anything about a bike exam for foreigners. That is mainly because there is no bike exam or any plans for it. Why are you writing this?

  29. No idea if any other countries enforcing this sort of policy, but to me it’s not acceptable. Unlike riding a motorcycle or e- bike, cycling is generally not that fast and no evidence convinces me cyclers observe or behave worse than pedestrians. I cannot see any benefits from this policy other than expansion of government powers, at the expense of inconvenience to the whole society.

  30. Most of the time it’s local bullying expats on the roads, impatient, arrogant and speeding. When you see a sign 100 kmph, locals go 110 kmph where as expat drive at 99 kmph because we got no money for fines and we find it shameful if police caught us, How about teaching local school kids and those adults who always ride together like they born together 🤣 and ban electric bikes or set limit to 20 kmph, 30 is too much for electric bike. Also see if you can black list drug dealer, you will find majority of them as local not expats.

  31. The first point that internationals need to wear bright orange helmets. This is total discrimination. If helmet is a rule, let it be a rule for everyone. Similarly if cycling license is required, let it be applicable for everyone irrespective of their nationality. This is nothing but harrasment to international

  32. Such a shame! You are now adding additional burden to pollution. Those cyclists will opt for cars. This would cause serious traffic jams, aggressive road users, threat of accidents double Or more than now. This is not bringing any interest for internationals to own a cycle. So only dutch can bike in their roads? Are you saying that dutch pll are good cyclists? What a racism?..None of the nation’s have cycle license. 🙂 shame on the government.

  33. Thanks for sharing this information.
    However, the rules can also be made for those using electric bikes and mopeds to drive slowly while using the bicycle path. Often, those are the people who pose treat to fellow bicyclists and not mostly by an international bicyclists.

  34. A bit exaggerated. Because also dutch people get drunk on the bike and also why just internationals. This is racist and discriminating.

  35. Completely useless, I live in Amsterdam for 3 years and had incidents involving Dutch nationalities, who either didn’t respect the green light or there were intoxicated. Orange jackets? Realy? Only for expats so the others know who are dealing with, wow, that’s rasism.

  36. This is not necessary! I think everyone knows how to ride a bike and stop at the red traffic light. If we remember during the ’38-’45 the Jewish people were obligated to use the star sign, so like this everyone could see them, with the orange helmet it’s going to be the same. I think this is a lot of descrimination. But also let’s think about the economy, how much an international person has to pay for a licence, let’s say 100€, from more than 10.000.000 internationals let’s just calculate how much money are going in the pocket of the government. They cannot insure the bike so they can’t make money with it and they start thinking about the licence. Smart move but stupid in the same time.

  37. If this idiotic set of rules (orange helmet?! 😂) gets implemented it’s back to the stone age for the once renowned internationally as tolerant liberal minded small country of the Netherlands.

    I would like to apologize to any international guests in the Netherlands for our current government and current state of affairs politically. Not all of us voted for this lunacy!

  38. So sad 😢 any other day of the year this would have been hilarious, but now it’s just me blij maken net een dode mus 😂

  39. On the one hand I am impressed with this measure of bicyclists requiring a licence to cycle in the Netherlands. But why only the internationals must be a licence holder. Having lived in various parts of NL for the last 41 years I can speak with considerable authority how arrogant , insensitive and ignorant the the native dutch cyclists are towards pedestrians. As some one who is fully dependent on foot when running errands and public transport , I do not feel safe at all even on the sidewalk/ footpath or “stoop” as the dutch call it. And that is because bicyclists ride or rather whizz through without any qualms on the sidewalks/ footpath/ stoop, irrespective of elderly , the informs on walkers or children. They do not even bother to use the bell attached on their bikes just a thumb away . And when they hit a pedestrian they never apologize . Instead balk out expletives to the pedestrians to express their displeasure. In other words gaslighting . They are rude , arrogant and selfish.
    I have often wondered why the government ignores the safety of the pedestrians? Could it be that those same government officials are practicing the same ????

  40. Had this story not been released on April 1, and had it been released prior to the Netherlands recent election when the governing crazies were trying to destroy domestic food production, I would have totally believed it.

  41. This law is very stupid and discriminatory! Did you see how Dutch people ride their bikes? Not respecting traffic lights, signs or lanes? If a law like this would be implemented, it should be for the Dutch as well.

  42. Education is important but the licence must for bicycle is a joke.
    Travel and Tour sector will must damage.
    The Visitors who come and use bicycles will find another country.
    Bicycle industry of Netherlands will also face a huge loss.
    Rental bike business will also damage.
    Many persons like me is not wear helmet longe time during visit .

  43. This looks discriminatory. Why it’s only applied to internationals? Dangerous cycling can be done by locals as well. And then they want expats to wear orange helmet! No normal cyclists wear helmet in NL.

  44. License to cycle for everyone!
    And heavy fines too, I lost count how many times I seen zombies cycling with their eyes on the phone, it’s death by suicide.

  45. Unacceptable! I can’t believe this is real.

    Now, there are some parts that are actually nice. I’m all for the orange helmets. Now we only have to also agree on white helmets for the rest, and maybe also some other strict rules for the clothes. Choosing what to buy would be so much easier. And the environmental impact…

    🙂

  46. Echt weer zo zielig hoe dat Rutte weer een melkkoe verzind om geld uit de hardwerkende portemonnee probeert te zuigen!!!!! Wanneer trap iemand deze pedofiel nou een van zn kanker fiets af????

  47. Hi ,I am an international student .I want to know is it a confirm news or April fools😀

    Because before the headline you put this caption

    Update: Een april, kikker in je bil (April 1, frog in your butt)! Alright, the Dutch expression doesn’t quite work in English, but yes, April Fools

    Pls confirm me

  48. This is an intrusion, borderline racist, especially the discriminatory colored helmet : |
    Remember the star of David forced onto Jews clothing in the Nazi Germany. Don’t do this!

    If the license to bike is required, that is a a good thing for safety, but must apply to ALL resident, dutch and foreign alike.

    I will suggest particularly to legislate motorized moped/scooters/motorcyles to always require license and helmet, and to not be allowed on Fietspads. Those moped riders exceed 25km /hr speed all the time and are a leading cause of accidents and a grave danger for cyclists in The Hague !!!!

  49. As if our cooments will reach anyone? Or would anyone care?

    If that’s not discrimination, I don’t know what this is?

    Its stupid to think that the Dutch don’t cause accidents or Dall into the canal or even they are the best bycyclelists in the world.

    Whoever came up with this stupid law and whoever is voting for it, is sick. And mentally ill.

  50. And how racist and degrading to punish people by making them fish bikes from the canal. Because the Dutch get drunk and throw their bikes in the canal or fall in the canal.

    But they want to let expats fish the bikes from canals. How stupid and crazy

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