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Importing a motor vehicle

To import a motor a car or motorcycle that you have bought outside the Netherlands, there are a number of steps that you need to take:

  1. In a number of instances you must make a declaration for import duty and/or VAT and pay the amount owed
  2. If possible, you should request an exemption from BPM
  3. Your vehicle must undergo inspection and approval by the RDW (Dutch Motor Vehicle Authority)
  4. You must make a declaration for ‘BPM’ (special energy tax on private vehicles) at Customs (Douane) or the Tax Service (Belastingdienst) and, unless you have received an exemption, pay the amount owed
  5. You should have your car inspected (APK)

Once you have completed the above stages you will receive a registration certificate. You must then:

      6. Have the Dutch license plates produced by an authorized manufacturer

1. Make a declaration for import duty and/or VAT

If you bought your car or motorcycle in another EU country:

You need not declare your purchase for import duty provided the vehicle is to be registered (with a normal registration, not a dealer’s registration.)

However, a distinction is drawn between new and used vehicles for VAT purposes. VAT is payable on “new” imported cars and motorcycles but not on “used” vehicles.  “Used” in this instance means a vehicle which has driven more than 6000 km in another EU country and which was first registered in your name more than six months ago.

If you have paid VAT in another EU country on a new car, you still need to pay the VAT in the Netherlands, but you can claim the VAT back from the EU country in which you bought the car after registration in the Netherlands. See this link for details.

If you bought your car or motorcycle outside the EU:

You must declare your purchase to Customs at the time of actual import. Customs will then charge you import duties and VAT. The necessary documentation is available from Customs.

2. Apply for an exemption of ‘BPM’ tax (if applicable)

Most people have to pay BPM. However, you can request a permit for an exemption from BPM if you fulfill several conditions. Please note: in most cases, Bachelor’s and Master’s students coming to the Netherlands are not eligible for a BPM exemption. The conditions are listed below:

If you are moving from another EU country:

  1. You move from within the EU to the NL and bring your car with you
  2. Your car is part of your household goods that you imported. To fulfill this requirement, you need to import the car within 12 months from your date of registration with a Dutch municipality in NL
  3. You use the car for the same purpose that you used it your previous country of residence
  4. The car was in your possession and in use by you for at least 6 months before you moved to the NL
  5. You lived at least 12 months in your previous country before moving to the NL

If the above conditions apply to you, then you can request the exemption, Permit for exemption from BPM (Aanvraag vergunning vrijstelling BPM bij verhuizing binnen de EU) – The form is available at this link.

Please note: If the Tax Authority grants you this exemption, you may not sell, lease, or lend the car or motorcycle within 1 year after registration. Residing family members with a valid driving license may use the car or motorcycle. 

If you are moving from a country outside the EU:

  1. You move from outside the EU to the NL and bring your car with you
  2. You imported the car within 12 months after you moved to the NL
  3. You use the car for the same purpose that you used it your previous country of residence
  4. The car was in your possession and in use by you for at least 6 months before you moved to the NL
  5. You lived at least 12 consecutive months outside of the EU before moving to the NL
  6. You will not sell, loan, pawn, or lease your car within 12 months of importing

If the above conditions apply to you, then you can request the exemption. Your moving company or customs representative must assist in applying for the exemption by means of a digital declaration system (AGS) and a special exemption code.

Required documents:

The Belastingdienst/Douane does ask for quite a lot of documents to substantiate your claim:

  1. Copy of your passport or ID card
  2. Copy of your car license registration from the foreign country
  3. Proof of deregistering from your previous country (if applicable)
  4. Copy of your proof of purchase of the car (bill of sale and title)
  5. Proof of address in former country of residence: copy of rental contract or buying contract
  6. In case of foreign health insurance, copy of policy
  7. In case you move to the NL to work, a copy of your Dutch employment contract, OR employer’s declaration, OR work permit
  8. If applicable, proof of previous employment in previous country of residence (copy of employment contract) OR, in case of entrepreneurs, a copy of foreign Chamber of Commerce registration
  9. In case you move to the NL to study, proof of enrollment

You can apply for this exemption within 12 months of your move to the NL. The form and supporting documentation should be sent to the address on the form.

3. Have your car or motorcycle approved for import by the RDW

a.  Once you have received your BPM exemption, you must have your vehicle inspected and approved by the RDW.

Inspection at test center Lelystad

Most of the vehicles brought from outside the EU/EFTA are not built according to a Dutch or European type approval. The special equipment required for the inspection is only available at the RDW test center in Lelystad. However, some exceptions apply; please read the section below.

Approve at other RDW locations

In the following situations, you can have your vehicle inspected at RDW test stations across the country:

  • If you enter the vehicle as part of your household goods.
  • If the vehicle has had a Dutch license plate in the past.
  • If the vehicle has an European type approval. You can request this from the manufacturer or importer of the vehicle brand. 

If any of the above mentioned situations apply to you, your vehicle can (and must) be inspected at one of the RDW’s inspection stations.

If you have brought your car as part of your household goods, you will also need to make an appointment to go to the Municipality before the RDW appointment, to request an extract from the population register or “Uittreksel BRP“, which lists your name, address, BSN and the fact that you moved here from abroad. This will cost you approximately €17.

Please note: extracts older than 3 months are not accepted by the RDW!

You can make an appointment at one of the stations via the RDW website.

To make the appointment at the RDW, you need to know the following information about your car:

  • Manufacturer
  • Model
  • Year
  • Color
  • Type of fuel
  • Number of doors
  • Number of cylinders
  • Standard or automatic
  • VIN or chassis number
  • Approximate weight

RDW inspection stations in the Netherlands

Van de Broekeweg 14, 7602 PH Almelo.
Openingstijden: 8.30 – 16.00

Tijnmuiden 1, 1046 AK Amsterdam.
Openingstijden: 8.15 – 15.15


Malburgseveerweg 2, 6833 HK Arnhem.
Openingstijden: 8.00 – 16.30


Businesspark Stein 160, 6181 MA Elsloo.
Openingstijden: 8.30 – 16.30


Duinkerkenstraat 25, 9723 BP Groningen.
Openingstijden: ma. t/m do. 8.30 – 16.00

Hedikhuizerweg 19, 5222 BC ’s-Hertogenbosch.
Openingstijden: 8.30 – 16.30


Jupiter 12, 8448 CD Heerenveen.
Openingstijden: 8.00 – 16.30


Hollandhaven 11, 3433 PD Nieuwegein.
Openingstijden: 8.15 – 17.00


Haansbergseweg 18, 5121 LJ Rijen.
Openingstijden ma-di-do: 8.30 – 17.00


Borchwerf 18, 4704 RG Roosendaal.
Openingstijden: 8.30 – 17.00


Calandstraat 97, 3125 BA Schiedam.
Openingstijden: 8.00 – 17.00


De Run 4412, 5503 LR Veldhoven.
Openingstijden: 8.00 – 16.00


L.J. Costerstraat 55, 5916 PR Venlo.
Openingstijden: 8.30 – 16.30


Coenecoop 290, 2741 PL Waddinxveen.
Openingstijden: 8.30 – 17.00


Zoutverkopersstraat 4, 3334 KJ Zwijndrecht.
Openingstijden: di., wo. en do. 7.45 – 16.30

Ossenkamp 2, 8024 AE Zwolle.
Openingstijden: 8.00 – 16.30


After making the appointment, the RDW will send confirmation and the paperwork by email.

b.  Your vehicle may be transported to the inspection station (e.g. by trailer or pick-up) but you may also drive it there yourself. In this case you must be in possession of an one-day license plate registration for the purposes of weighing and investigation by the RDW. This can be obtained when you make your appointment for the inspection 

About one-day license plate registration:

Paperwork will be attached to the RDW’s confirmation email. The attachment includes your temporary license plate number. This number needs to be written onto a piece of cardboard and attached with a rubber band to your license plate holder or taped to the back and front windows on the inside. You can only use it on the day of your appointment.

Please note: you will also need to arrange car insurance, once you have a temporary license plate number. The insurance may be cheaper for you if you can get a statement from your previous insurance company about your driving behavior (i.e. a ‘no claims’ declaration that lists how many years you have driven accident-free).

For vehicles imported from an EU/EFTA country (Click the red ‘Keuringafspraak maken‘ button and fill out the requested information, which is also listed on the next page)

 After making the appointment, the RDW will send confirmation and the paperwork to your house. Included in the paperwork is a one-day pass, if requested. This pass also gives your temporary license plate number. This numbers needs to be written onto a piece of cardboard and attached with a rubber band to your license plate holder or taped to the back and front windows on the inside.

You will also need to arrange car insurance, once you have a temporary license plate number. The insurance will be cheaper for you if you can get a statement from your insurance company about your driving behavior (i.e.: a ‘no claims’ declaration that lists how many years you have driven accident free). 

c.  You must bring to the inspection:

  1. Your car or motorcycle
  2. A valid driver’s license
  3. Your passport
  4. A recent extract from the population register from the Municipality
  5. Original foreign car registration certificate
  6. The permit for exemption from BPM
  7. Proof of a recent inspection abroad, if applicable

Please note that this inspection comes with a price tag. For costs, please refer to the links below:


Outside EU/EFTA

d.  Once the inspection has been carried out and the vehicle has been approved, the RDW will digitally send the technical information of your vehicle to the Tax Authority (Belastingdienst).

In case your car was not approved, have the car repaired and make another appointment with the RDW afterward.

4. Make a declaration for BPM

Even if you have received an exemption for paying BPM, you still must file a BPM statement about the car, using this form.

An easier way to complete the declaration form is to use the website: https://autotelex.nl/import/ . On this page, click “Start met importeren” and the program will begin.

Completing both forms – declaration itself and the calculation – via this website does cost € 24,95. This amount needs to be immediately paid online in order to continue with the process. Autotelex accepts iDeal (online payment system by means of one’s Dutch bank card), Visa and Mastercard.

It can be worth the investment since filling in the tax form can be quite complex; however, this is a mere suggestion. Once the form has been completed, you can download and print the form.

Once you are done, send your declaration with the requested attachments in a stamped (gefrankeerd) envelope to:

PO Box 2710
6401 DE Heerlen

From 1 October 2018, the Belastingdienst processes the BPM declarations automatically. The order in which you submit your declaration determines the decision time. You can shorten the lead time by providing your data in one package in this order:

  1. Form ‘Aangifte/Melding/Opgaaf BPM’
  2. Attachments to the BPM declaration form
  3. Other appendices such as invoice, price list, CVO, etc.
  4. Valuation report

5. Arrange car inspection (APK)

You can schedule a combined import-APK inspection if you like.

However, although the APK inspection is mandatory, it is not a prerequisite for obtaining your Dutch license plate registration: only the import inspection is required. Therefore, you could schedule the APK inspection separately after you have received your Dutch license plate registration. Once you have received your registration letters, you could combine the APK with the appointment to have your license plate made, for example.

General information about APK

The “Algemene Periodieke Keuring” (APK) is a compulsory inspection for all vehicles under 3,500 kg. If your vehicle is three years or older, it must be inspected annually. The inspection looks at various aspects of safety and environmental protection. Vehicles over 3,500 kg and all taxis must be inspected annually once they are one year old.

In the Netherlands, APK inspection may only be conducted by businesses which are certified by the RDW to do so. All vehicles, both those which pass the inspection and those which do not, are given an inspection report. There is no set price for an APK inspection. 

The date of the so-called ‘first approval’ decides when your vehicle becomes liable for inspection. This date can be found on Part I of the registration certificate and is usually the date on which the certificate was issued. Your vehicle must have its first inspection three years after this date. You may have the vehicle inspected up to two months prior to this date; this does not affect the date by which the vehicle must in future be inspected. For example: your vehicle must be inspected on or before 14 April. You may therefore have the inspection carried out any time between 15 February and 14 April. 14 April remains the final date for inspection. Do not therefore put off the inspection too long.

If you have a complaint about the inspection (for example, you later find a rusted strut which was rusted at the time of the inspection), or if you disagree with the result, you may lodge an appeal. 

For your safety and for that of other road users, as well as for the environment, it is important that your vehicle is in good technical condition. Regular servicing will help to ensure that it remains in good technical condition. The APK inspection is just one moment in time – passing the inspection does not mean that your car will remain safe and clean for the rest of the year and does not mean that you do not need to carry out any maintenance during that year!

6. Obtain Dutch license plate registration and have plates made

If the car has passed the import inspection and the Tax Service has received, processed and approved the BPM declaration, then the RDW will send you your registration papers by mail within 5 working days.

Please note:  the Tax Service officially needs to process and decide on your BPM declaration within 8 weeks.

The registration papers include the permanent license plate number. You will receive the following:

  • A letter stating your Dutch license plate number (kentekenbewijs)
  • One working day later, you will receive a letter with a so-called tenaamstellingscode, a code that belongs to the kentekenbewijs.

If you have arranged for an APK inspection, you will also receive the APK report separately.

Together, the kenkenbewijs and the tenaamstellingscode comprise your registration certificate. More information on this certificate is mentioned below.  

Registration Certificate

Every owner or keeper of a registered vehicle should be in possession of a registration certificate. This certificate consists of three parts. If your registration certificate has been lost or damaged you must obtain a replacement from the RDW.  

  • Part I
    • This part shows the technical specification of the vehicle, such as the make, model and chassis number. The owner/keeper is obliged to keep this part in the vehicle whenever it is use.     
  • Part II
    • This part shows the personal details (name and address) of the vehicle’s owner/keeper. This part must also be kept in the vehicle whenever it is in use.
  • Part III: Transfer of ownership certificate
    • The final part of the registration certificate is a sort of ‘proof of ownership’ and is necessary when selling the vehicle. The transfer of the vehicle’s ownership must be registered at the Post Office using this part of the certificate. The transfer document need not be kept with the vehicle: it is probably more sensible to keep it in a safe place at home.

Dutch license plates

You have to have your license plates made by an approved manufacturer.

First, arrange car insurance or, in case you used the temporary license plate number to arrange insurance prior to the import inspection, inform your insurance company about the new, permanent, Dutch license plate number.

RDW-approved manufacturers can be found at this link

On the day of your license plate appointment, you can write your permanent Dutch license plate number on two white cardboard plates using a black pen, and attach them to your car – same as what you may have done with the one-day license plate number. In this way you can drive your car to the garage.

The plates are then made, attached to the car, you pay, and you are good to go!

Motor vehicle tax (MRB)

Receiving Dutch plates also means that you will automatically be sent a quarterly bill from the Tax Service for motor vehicle tax (MRB). This is a road tax based on the weight of the motor vehicle, the type of fuel, the province in which you live and the CO2 emissions.