Netherlands : driving rules and customs

If you're heading abroad for your holidays, or just popping over for a shopping or business trip, driving in another country can be a great experience. But you need to make sure that you are familiar with local rules and regulations, and that you have everything you need.

Speed limits in km/h

motorcycles 50 80^ 100 100*
cars 50 80^ 100 100*
towing vehicles 50 80 80 80
vans over 3.5t 50 80 80 80
trucks over 7.5t 50 80 80 80
buses 50 80 80 80
   
   
 

Driving age

The minimum permitted age for driving a vehicle is 18 years; this increases to 19 years for rental cars.

   
   

Mobile phones

It is illegal to use a handheld mobile phone. The use of hands free equipment is permitted.

   
   

Alcohol limit

The blood alcohol content limit is 0.5, reducing to 0.2 for drivers with less than five years' experience.

   
   
 

Seat belts

All occupants must wear a seat belt if one is provided in the vehicle.

   
   
 

Child restraints

Any child aged below 18 years that is below 135cm in height must be in a suitable car or booster seat.
If you have three children in the back seat, then the child in the middle seat doesn't require a car or booster seat, as long as they can use a standard three-point seatbelt.

   
   

Speed camera detection

Devices that can detect or interfere with speed cameras are illegal - if you are caught with one, you will be fined and the device will be confiscated.
If your satnav features speed camera warnings, this feature must be turned off before travel.

   
   

Headlights

The use of headlights is recommended at all times where a car is not fitted with daytime running lights.

   
   

Winter weather

There's no requirement to use winter tyres.
The use of snow chains or spiked tyres is not permitted.

 
* Between 7pm and 6am, the speed limit on some motorways may increase to 120 km/h or 130 km/h where signs allow.
^ This increases to 100 km/h on single carriageways marked with a green band running along the centre of the road.
   
   

Trams and buses

You must give way to trams and buses unless signs and signals indicate otherwise.
This includes buses pulling away from bus stops.

 

Breakdowns

In the event of a motorway breakdown, try to pull onto the hard shoulder, then ensure you do the following:
 - everyone is wearing a high visability vest, and wait behind the crash barrier - do not stay in your vehicle;
 - switch on the hazard lights and keep them on at all times until your vehicle is recovered;
 - position a warning triangle 30 metres behind your vehicle;
 - use the nearest emergency telephone (or call 112 if you cannot) before contacting your breakdown company.

On ordinary roads, you can call your breakdown company immediately.

   
   

Motorway ameneties

Rest areas, known as voorzieningen, are a simple parking area with picnic tables sited no more than every 20km along the motorway. Where space permits, you may find somewhere to take a short walk.

Service areas, known as verzorgingsplaats, are larger sites with toilets, restaurants and often a shop. Most come with a petrol station, however a quirk in the regulations mean that this isn't always necessary - this is because food must be available every 40km, but increases to 60km for fuel. This is sometimes achieved by building a full services on one side of the motorway, but only a rest area on the other, with a pedestrian link in between.

Signage provided before you reach the services will advise of what is available on-site, and the distance to the next amenety offering the same facilities. Here's what the symbols mean:

Public telephone Picnic area Toilets

Disabled facilities

Petrol station

Petrol station
also providing LPG

Petrol station
also providing CNG

Electric vehicle
charging point

Hotel

Restaurant

     

Cafeteria

Viewpoint