Can a Foreigner Buy a Car in the Netherlands?

Cars parked near the canal in Netherlands

Buying a car in the Netherlands as a foreigner is not as difficult as one might think. In fact, with a little bit of research and preparation, the process can be relatively straightforward. Of course, there are a few things to keep in mind, such as taxes and regulations, but overall the process is not overly complicated.

A foreigner can buy a car in the Netherlands as long as they have:

  • A valid driver’s license from their country of origin
  • A valid passport
  • Proof of insurance
  • Proof of residency in the Netherlands (e.g., a Dutch address)

Understandably, the process can sometimes be a little daunting, but with the right help and guidance, it can be easily navigated. This article will provide an overview of the process and some helpful tips to make the experience as smooth as possible. Want to buy an affordable car in the Netherlands? Check out our guide on the cheapest cars in the Dutch market.

Can you buy a car in the Netherlands as a foreigner? 

Foreigners can buy vehicles in the Netherlands, similarly to residents. Acquiring and owning a car in the Netherlands isn’t complicated as long as you have relevant documents and finances.

In a nutshell, the process of owning a car in the country includes:

  • Deciding the car you want, whether new or used
  • Window shop to get an idea of the cost
  • Purchase a vehicle from the dealer or a private seller
  • Register the car with the Dutch vehicle authority
  • Pay relevant motor vehicle taxes
  • Get insurance for the car

You can find the right insurance on the Dutch comparison platform.

Buying a car in the Netherlands as a non-resident

Non-residents can also purchase vehicles in the Netherlands. However, as a non-resident, you won’t be able to register the car within the Netherlands. You can only buy it for export.

1. New or used car

As a foreigner, you need to evaluate the benefits of each option and compare it with the regulations of your country if you plan on taking the car to your home country in the future.

Buying a second-hand car has the benefit of being more affordable. Depending on the model and technical well-being, you can get a second-hand vehicle retailing between €5,000 and €20,000.

A new car in the Netherlands is more pricey, mainly because you are supposed to clear a one-off payment known as the private vehicle and motorcycle cost. The rate for this cost varies based on the amount of carbon dioxide it emits to the environment. A higher emission rate attracts a high price.

See more on car prices in the Netherlands.

Buying a new or used car will be influenced by your preference, funds available, and your future plans for the vehicle. Do you intend to sell it later or ship it to your country? 

Check out the best websites to buy a used car in the Netherlands.

2. Costs involved

This aspect is purely personal and will be influenced by your financial plans. You need to answer the question of how much you are in a position to spend on a car at the moment.

If you don’t have enough cash at the moment, you can get financing from a bank or negotiate a friendly deal with car dealerships. Some dealerships in the country allow adjustments in the pricing and payment, which you could take advantage of.

3. Car registration

Registering a car in Dutch as a foreigner is a straightforward procedure that shouldn’t scare you. However, here are the main requirements you need to meet:

  • You must do the transfer of a license plate in person.
  • You must be at least 18 years old.
  • You must live in the Netherlands and be registered with a municipality in the Personal Records Database (BRP).

Registering the car with the foreign driving license

If you don’t have a Dutch driver’s license or required identification documents, you can use the following for the registration:

  • Identity card or driving license from an EU or EFTA country
  • A diplomatic passport
  • Dutch residence permit type I, II, III, or IV
  • Service passport
  • Foreign passport

If you don’t have a BSN number on the passport or identity card, an extract from the Personal Records Database (BRP) is additionally required. You must request this extract from the municipality.

Generally, car registration in the Netherlands involves the following steps:

  • Legal identification: To prove your identity, you could use either a valid passport or ID or a valid driving license which shouldn’t be more than ten years. A foreign passport is also acceptable; however, it needs to be accompanied by a Dutch residence permit. 
  • Vehicle registration card
  • Attribution code

You’ll get a registration card when registering a car in the Netherlands. The card will have the vehicle’s details, such as weight and the current license plate holder.

You’ll also receive a nine-digit code which will come in handy in the future if you decide to sell the car. If you lose the code, you can apply for a new one online.

You have three options where you can register your car: the RDW counters, in the post office under the vehicle registration sections, and in selected car companies that belong to the Kentekenloket BV.

The critical aspect of registering a car in the Netherlands is verifying your identity by the authorities.

4. Taxes due

In the Netherlands, you’ll be expected to clear the motor vehicle taxes you’ll receive from the country’s authorities.

The amount in taxes charged on your car will depend on the type of car, fuel, and the taxes applicable to the region in the country.

Taxes chargeable on a vehicle in the country include the BPM tax, a one-off rate paid by the car’s first owner. This means if you’re buying a second-hand car, this won’t apply. You’ll also pay road tax, payable annually or every three months. 

The amount of tax you pay on a car is also influenced by the rate of CO2 emissions it releases to the environment. 

5. Car insurance

Every car in the country must have valid insurance coverage when on the road. At the very basic, you must have a third-party cover to cater to the damages caused to other cars when on the road.

You could also opt to have a comprehensive cover that will be more elaborate and cover various risks such as theft, damage by weather, fire, or animals.

The risks covered under the comprehensive insurance option will depend on the policy and the risk factors you consider highly probable. 

In the Netherlands, we recommend Dutch insurance companies like ABN AMRO and HEMA.

The amount you pay in insurance charges varies for the different providers. On average, however, the amount payable for a third-party cover is €75.

Motor vehicle Insurance is a must-have in the country, so you need to evaluate and organize it in time once you register the car. 

Choose the right car insurance in the Netherlands

Instead of buying a car in the Netherlands, you can also lease one. In many instances, it’s a better solution.

What do you need to buy a car in the Netherlands?

Biccyels parked outside apartment buildings

When buying a car in the Netherlands, your aim is to have a seamless process that takes minimal time. This is only doable if you have all that is needed for the purchase.

As a foreigner, you’ll need first to prove your identity. Buying and registering the car will be easy if you have a Dutch ID. 

Without the ID, the first step will be to get your digital registration (DiGiD) and citizen service number (BSN) ready. Having these in good time will lower the duration you spend in the RDW offices to register your car.

Once you have that, the next step is to visit the RDW offices, where you’ll need to carry these documents for verification, inspection, and approval:

  • Local municipality data documents, which must have updated information about you
  • A valid EU/EFTA driving license that’s not older than ten years
  • Your passport
  • You’ll obtain the car documents from the dealer. This is important as it’ll guide you in calculating your liable road tax/ BPM.

Once you avail these to the RDW offices, the rest is settling the payments due, including taxes and insurance, and you’re good to go.

Best car to buy in the Netherlands

The best car to buy in the Netherlands will be influenced by several factors that include:

  • Personal preference
  • Cost
  • Fuel
  • Tax obligation
  • Maintenance ease and cost

The Netherlands is keen on environmental pollution, so the best car would be one with the least CO2 emissions. This will influence your choice of car in terms of size and the fuel used. 

What is the cheapest car in the Netherlands?

Diesel-fueled vehicles still top the number of cars bought in the country, as seen below:


Read our guide about the cost of car ownership in the Netherlands.

In terms of brands, these were the leading cars bought in the Netherlands in 2021:

  1. Volkswagen
  2. KIA
  3. Toyota
  4. Peugeot
  5. Skoda
  6. BMW
  7. Ford
  8. Renault
  9. Volvo
  10. Opel

These are the top car models sold in the country in 2021.

Vehicle modelUnits sold
KIA NIRO 10,800
Volvo XC408,450
Volkswagen POLO8,009
Skoda ENYAQ6,620

Used car prices in the Netherlands

Used car prices vary based on brand, model, age, and mechanical condition. Below is a breakdown of the average used car prices in the Netherlands:

Used car modelAverage price (EUR)
2006 Skoda Octavia 1.62,500
2007 Opel Corsa 1.22,450
2007 Alfa Romeo 147 1.62,500
2008 Volkswagen Golf5,000
2009 Skoda Octavia5,500
2003 AUDI A4 1.82,000

Read more on car prices.

Moreover, some of the most affordable vehicles in the Netherlands include Kia Picanto, Dacia Sandero, Dacia Jogger, Hyundai i10, Toyota Aygo, and Skoda Citigo. Should you plan to get a used car, Volkswagen Golf and Skoda Octavia are the most affordable vehicles.

An essential factor you need to consider when buying a used car in the Netherlands is the periodic vehicle inspection which is done annually or biannually. You’ll need this report as it’s a legal requirement. The average cost of every assessment visit is between €20 and €80.

Additionally, a used car has a higher maintenance cost. Areas that need regular evaluation and repeat maintenance include the battery, tire replacement, and the vehicle’s charging unit.

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