Importing your EU Car into the Netherlands

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You’re settled in the Netherlands and you figure it’s about time you braved the process of importing your EU registered car into the Netherlands! How’s you Dutch reading skill progressing? You’re going to need it! First things first you need to meet some particular conditions if you don’t want to pay lots of tax.

  1. You’ve had the vehicle for at least 6 months
  2. You’re moving from another EU country (and it was registered there)
  3. You lived in that EU country at least 12 months

If that’s the case. Congratulations! Your first mission is to fill in this form to ask for an exemption from import tax. They ask for a lot of supporting documentation, some of which may not be available from your country. In my case I sent as much information as possible from their list and as much as possible to prove the points above and eventually got a letter back with the exemption.

Now you’ve got the documentation it’s time to get everything in order. Check your car meets the requirements. Most people will be okay, but if you’re from the UK then you’ll need to have all your lights adapted. Then you’re all ready to make an inspection appointment at your nearest RDW testing center. At the end of  the process you’ll get the option to apply for an Eendagskentekenbewijs (one day number plate) – get it as you’ll definitely need it!

Next you’ll need to contact your insurance company (or Google something like Eendagskentekenverzekering ) as you’ll need insurance on that number plate for that day.

If you need to drive your car (for example, into the country), then you can also apply for a (maximum of two weeks) temporary exemption at this link. This is a simple process and when I did it I got a response almost immediately.

Now gather together your paperwork ready for the appointment. Simply put you need all registration documentation for the car, an uitreksel of your BRP registration at the gemeente (from within the last 3 months), and any foreign equivalents of the APK (periodic vehicle check) and ID (e.g. passport). If your vehicle has a CoC certificate you should bring that (I didn’t and they seemed to find it on their systems).

And whilst you’re waiting you can print out and get to work on these two forms for reporting for tax (again in Dutch). There’s an important box on the first to say you have an exemption (but you still need to do all the calculations): here and here.

On the day of the appointment you need to mount some temporary plates with the one day number on the car (I just printed them out and wrapped them around the real plates with cling film to keep them dry – but I don’t think that’s an official way!). Get all your paperwork together and set off for your appointment.

At your appointment you need to hand all the paperwork to the person behind the desk (make sure that you say that you want to swap your foreign equivalent of the APK for an APK if you can, as they don’t ask). You’ll then be asked to wait and/or drive your car in for the test. The test mostly involves somebody looking at vehicle identification numbers, entering details into a computer, and doing some simple checks.

After the test, you pay. If there was a problem then you need to go home, get it fixed, and go through the whole process (and pay) again! If your car is approved then they’ll take your money and give you a bit of paper in return. Use this paper to complete any further details in those two Dutch forms you did. You’ll likely need to use it to help fill in the second form for the calculations of the BPM (but relax if you’ve got an exemption. This is just so they know how much to charge you if you try to sell your car within a year of importing). There’s a box in the testing center to post the bit of paper they gave you and the two forms back to the belastingdienst.

Welcome to limbo! At this point your car is in the system and you’re responsible for all requirements such as road tax and insurance, but you don’t know your number plate yet. In short, you can’t really drive it until you get the documentation through.

About a week later, the documentation comes through for your registration. Now you can sort out insurance (the tax authorities will find you for road tax) and you need to visit an official number plate manufacturer with your documentation and ID (e.g. passport) to get the plates made up. You can find your nearest one here.

Attach your shiney new number plates to your car, breath, give yourself a pat on the back for understanding all those Dutch forms, and try to work out how you’re going to afford to pay the sky high road tax!


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