Car documents and taxes in the Netherlands
Are you planning on driving a car in the Netherlands? Whether you import your vehicle from abroad or plan to get a new car, there are various steps you must take.
Bringing Your Car from Abroad
If you’re moving from abroad and want to import your car, the process is fairly easy if you follow these tips.
The first thing to do is hire a car shipper. Shippers will know how to navigate customs and import laws in the Netherlands. There are two ways to ship your vehicle that are most common: ‘roll-on/roll-off’ (RORO) and container shipping.
RORO involves parking your vehicle on a ship and securing it in place for the voyage. Though this is the cheaper option, the downside is that your vehicle will be exposed to wind and water.
Container shipping is more expensive, but your vehicle will be safe and secure from the elements. This option is also convenient as you can load personal goods alongside your vehicle, such as home furnishings.
Registering Your Vehicle
Car ownership in the Netherlands comes with a range of responsibilities. For a start, you must ensure you have the right vehicle registration documents. All vehicles in the Netherlands must be registered. Once your car is in the Netherlands, you will need to register it with the RDW (Rijksdienst voor het Wegverkeer) and get a Dutch licence plate. The procedure for getting your licence plate differs on whether you’re moving from within or outside the EU.
Check the RDW website to see what steps to follow
You will also have to register your vehicle if you’re buying a new (or used) car after you’ve arrived.
Before registering your car in the Netherlands, you will need to pay BPM (belasting van personenauto’s en motorrijwielen). This is a one-off tax that must be paid when a vehicle is registered in the Netherlands for the first time. BPM is based on CO2 emission for cars and net list price for vans or motorcycles.
To begin, your vehicle must be approved for use in the Netherlands by the Vehicle Technology and Information Centre, which is part of the RDW. Submit your vehicle for testing to an approved RDW centre along with your documentation, including the registration certificate and a certificate of conformity to EU standards (if necessary).
When you receive the BPM certificate of approval, send it to the Tax Office (Belastingdienst). They will then calculate the amount of payable tax, including the BOM and any VAT/import duties. Once all your fees are paid, you will receive your Dutch vehicle registration certificate (kentekenbewijs).
If you’re bringing your vehicle from abroad, you generally do not have to pay import taxes. If you meet the required conditions, you will be able to apply for a permit with Dutch Customs to import your car with a foreign registration number tax-free.
Motor Vehicle Tax (MRB)
Everyone who owns a vehicle in the Netherlands must pay the motor vehicle tax (MRB, motorrijtuigenbelasting). The amount you pay depends on these factors:
- fuel and type of car
- in which province the owner of the vehicle lives
The motor vehicle tax rate tool (in Dutch) will help you determine how much your tax will be. It will also tell you which types of fuel-efficient vehicles are exempt from paying the tax.
Bijtelling – Private Use of Company Cars
If you are leasing a car from your employer, but also use it for personal purposes, you will have to pay bijtelling. Bijtelling, or Private Use Addition, is an extra sum added to your gross salary that will be settled in your annual income tax return. The addition is a settlement of your private use with the car costs of your company. However, if you drive the vehicle less than 500 km for personal use, no addition is required.
There are three types of car insurance in the Netherlands:
- WA insurance (wettelijke aansprakelijkheidsverzekering): This is a third-party liability insurance and is required. It will cover any damage you might do to other cars when driving.
- WA coverage plus limited casco: This covers the damage you may cause to another car, but not the damage you cause to your own car. However, you will get reimbursed for damage to your vehicle caused by theft, collision with animals, storms, and window damage. This insurance is mostly used for five-to-10-year-old cars.
- All risk insurance: If you want your insurance to cover as much as possible and your car is younger than four years, all-risk insurance is for you.
All vehicles more than three years old must undergo an annual technical test called APK (algemene periodieke keuring). There is no fixed price for this test. If your vehicle does not pass the test, there is a grace period to fix any issues before the RDW withdraws your registration. You may appeal and submit a request for a retake if you do not agree with the APK outcome.
Electric vehicles (EVs) are not only good for the environment, they are also more economical. The Dutch tax system is designed to favour cars that are less damaging to the environment and provides incentives for choosing environmentally friendly vehicles.
If you decide to go electric, you will need a charging point. Because of the popularity of EVs, there are more and more charging points appearing in Dutch cities. Be sure to only park at these charging stations if you’re using the charger. Regular parking rates apply if the charger is in a paid parking zone, unless otherwise stated.
If you want a charging station close to where you live, you can request one for free from your municipality.
Request a charging station in:
Once your vehicle is in the Netherlands or you have purchased a new car, you will also need a Dutch driving licence and a parking permit. Our resources will give you all the information you need to begin driving (and parking) in the Netherlands.