Are there any special requirements for driving or hiring a car in Holland?
In Holland, traffic drives on the right in left hand drive cars. If you are taking your car to Holland, be aware that your view of the road will be restricted. All hire cars in Holland will be left hand drive which take some getting used to. Be particularly careful pulling out at junctions. Winters can be icy so consider snow chains if the weather deteriorates.
Seat Belt Laws
Seat belts are compulsory for all passengers in the Netherlands and you face a hefty on the spot fine for breaking the law
Drinking and Driving
If you have held your licence for less than five years or are a motorcyclist under the age of 24 you are allowed no more than 0.02% of alcohol in your bloodstream. For more experienced drivers the limit is 0.05%. You can expect breathalyser tests followed by a blood test if you fail the initial breathalyser.
Must Have Documents
There are no specific regulations on documentation but it is common sense to have your driving licence (both parts) and the vehicle’s registration document, insurance documents and MOT with you.
In town: The maximum speed limit is 50km/h (31mph).
Outside of built up areas: Limits can confuse as they can be 80 km/h (50mph) or 100 km/h (62mph). Watch out for signs that will tell you which limit applies. If in doubt, stick to the lower limit.
Motorways: The limit on a motorway is 130 km/h (80mph) but your vehicle must be able to do a minimum of 60km/h (30mph).
Speed limits by weather conditions
Minimum Driving Age
The Netherlands sets the minimum age for drivers at 18 so if you’ve just passed your test in the UK at 17, you’ll have to wait a year! There are no official maximum ages for drivers as long as you have a valid licence.
Safety Camera Warning Devices
It’s currently illegal to carry a device that warns of the presence of speed cameras. If you are caught then you will have the device impounded and be fined €420. Be careful for many drivers forget that many sat-navs warn about impending speed cameras. The Dutch police are very hot on this law!
On the Spot Fines
Fines can vary but are around €220 for using a phone and for other minor traffic violations. Speeding fines vary by the amount you exceed the limit but over twice the limit and you’ll find your car impounded too. Non-payment of an on the spot fine can lead to you being driven to a cash machine or bank and if you still can’t pay, your car will be impounded.
Child Safety Rules
Unless you have a suitable harness system in your car, children under the age of 18 who are less than 1.35m in height cannot travel in the car at all.
The harness must meet the requirements of EC Directives ECE 44/03 or 44/04. Children under three years old can travel in the front seat as long as their child seat faces the rear and you can deactivate the car’s passenger airbag.
A minimum of third party insurance is compulsory.
Rules of the Road
Standard European driving laws apply with one or two exceptions.
- You must use a warning triangle and have your hazard warning lights lit if involved in an accident or if you break down. It’s recommended but not compulsory to carry the warning triangle at all times.
- You must give way to buses when they indicate to pull out from bus stops
- The tram system introduces another difficulty; they have right of way in all circumstances except at priority roads.
- Be aware that a large number of cyclists use the roads in the Netherlands
- Using your horn excessively or at night can be punished by large fines
- You mustn’t use spiked tyres in winter, only chains or winter tyres
- You must use dipped headlights at all times when driving in the country
Other than the standard EU regulations there are no specific regulations for towing cars in the Netherlands. Hazard warning lights should be used and you must not tow a car on the motorway. Towing a caravan is quite stress free in Holland as the roads are flat. Watch out for cross winds though.
Speed Cameras are prevalent in the Netherlands and you will be warned by signs that you are approaching an area controlled by cameras.
Using Mobile Phones when driving
The use of a mobile phone whilst driving is prohibited and punishable by a hefty fine of €420
You must not park next to kerbs painted black and white or yellow. Parking is also not permitted where the ‘P’ signs forbid it
Almost invariably, you must pay for roadside parking in Dutch towns and cities and this means getting a ticket from a machine on the kerb nearby. The ticket must be displayed face up. You can usually pay with cash or credit card and a number of cities are now allowing mobile phone payment too.
It’s possible to buy an International Blue Parking Disc from many shops and kiosks. There are special parking areas for holders of these and you can park there for a set number of hours. It’s often a much cheaper way to park.
Enforcement of parking is often done by camera and the country’s vast network of CCTV quickly spots errant cars. It’s not long before police, often in unmarked cars will arrive to fine you or tow your car away.
The Netherlands follows EU guidelines on parking for holders of an EU Disabled Parking Permit.
Motor Way Signs
Motorway signs follow the European standard and when entering a motorway, you'll see the sign of two parallel lanes crossed by a bridge which is common to all motorway systems across Europe.
I have broken down: Ik heb afgebroken
Where is the police station?: Waar is het politiebureau?
I have a flat tyre: Ik heb een lekke band
I have been in an accident: Ik heb een ongeluk gehad
Where is?: Waar is?
Where can I buy petrol?: Waar kan ik benzine kopen?
Traffic lights are hi-tech in the Netherlands with sensors that ensure that buses and cyclists have priority at following sets of lights. The system operates as per the UK light system but traffic police are very hot on fining drivers who go through red signals and who may be deemed to have ignored the warning of an amber signal.
There are no toll roads in the Netherlands but two tunnels; Westerschelde and Kil have fees of €5 and €2 respectively.
See our guide to toll roads in Holland here.
The emergency number in the Netherlands is the European standard: 112
What to do in an emergency
In an emergency, you must display a warning triangle 30m from the vehicle and have your hazard warning lights on. Call the emergency services on 112 and wait with the vehicle until they arrive. It is an offence to leave the scene of an accident where someone has been injured.
As of June 2014, the price of Unleaded 95 in the Netherlands is £1.41 whilst diesel is £1.48.
|on a visit to Amsterdam we had a coach transfer back to the ferry the driver did not inform the passenger's to fasten the seat belts and was eating a chocolate bar and using his mobile phone when driving all of which I videoed