Legal and financial matters regarding cars
When you buy a car in the Netherlands, there are several legal and financial matters you need to take in account.
If you buy a new car, you will have to register your car through the RDW (Rijksdienst voor het Wegverkeer), the national authority for road traffic, transport and vehicle administration. The RDW will give a vehicle registration certificate (kentekenbewijs). Before you can register your new car, you will need to pay BPM (see below). If you buy a used car from another individual, you must register the car under your name (as the buyer). The seller of the car will then give you the vehicle registration certificate and the car will be officially yours.
Before you can register your car in the Netherlands, you will need to pay BPM. BPM is a one-off tax that must be paid when a car, motorcycle or light goods vehicle is registered in the Netherlands for the first time. BPM is charged on:
- cars, based on CO2-emission.
- vans or motorcycles, based on the net list price.
If you want to have your vehicle registered, it must first be approved for use in the Netherlands by the Vehicle Technology and Information Centre (part of the RDW). This involves submitting the vehicle for testing to an approved RDW centre, along with relevant documentation including the registration certificate and a certificate of conformity to EU standards if necessary.
Once you receive the bpm certificate of approval by the RDW, you will need to send it to the Tax Office (Belastingdienst). They will calculate the amount of payable tax, including the BPM and any VAT/import duties. Once all fees are paid, you will receive the Dutch vehicle registration certificate (kentekenbewijs).
- If you bring your car from abroad, you may request exemption from BPM. Read more in our section on bringing your car from abroad.
Motor vehicle tax (MRB, Motorrijtuigenbelasting)
After you register your car, you will automatically receive a bill for motor vehicle tax (MRB, Motorrijtuigenbelasting). Everyone who lives in the Netherlands and owns a vehicle (car, van, motorcycle, trailer or lorry) has to pay motor vehicle tax. The amount of motor vehicle tax you pay depends on which vehicle you own and several other factors such as:
- the province the owner of the vehicle lives
You can find out the tax rate for all vehicle types by using the motor vehicle tax rate tool (in Dutch). The tool also allows you to see which types of fuel-efficient cars are exempt from paying vehicle tax.
If you lease a car from your employer and use this for private purposes, you will have to pay taxes on bijtelling. Your employer must add a sum to the your wage before tax (private use addition). After all, you benefit from this private use. However, if you drive less than 500 kilometres privately, no addition is required. Bijtelling comes down to a certain percentage of the value of the car, depending on the CO2 emission of the car involved.
There are three different kinds of car insurances in the Netherlands.
- WA coverage
You are required to take out third-party liability (WA, Wettelijke Aansprakelijkheidsverzekering) insurance in the Netherlands. This will cover any damage you may cause to other cars.
- WA coverage + limited casco
This insurance covers the damage you cause to another car. However, damage caused by yourself on your own car is not reimbursed. You will get a reimbursement for damage to your own car caused by theft, collision with animals, storm or window damage. This insurance is mostly chosen for 5 to 10-year-old cars.
- All risk insurance
If you have opted an all risk insurance, you will also be covered for theft, damage to your vehicle and personal injury. This insurance covers damage to other cars and almost all damage to your own car. This insurance is advisable if your car is younger than 4 years, or if you want to make sure your insurance will cover as much as possible.
Whilst not a standardised insurance, The Royal Dutch Touring Club ANWB offers a wide range of services that are an incentive to sign up for a membership. These services include roadside assistance and medical, repatriation assistance abroad, legal assistance, travel, information products, insurances and other products related to recreation, tourism and mobility.
Technical test (APK)
All vehicles more than 3 years old must undergo an annual APK technical test (Algemene Periodieke Keuring) at an RDW-approved testing centre. There is no fixed price for the APK test. If your vehicle does not pass the test, you benefit from a grace period to get it fixed before the RDW withdraws your registration. If you believe the outcome is not correct, you may appeal against it and submit a request to the RDW for a retest.