Drive the Dutch way
It is quite a challenge to drive a car in Amsterdam. Bike lanes, tramways, narrow historic streets, cramped parking spaces. Are you up to the task? It can be rewarding to take some extra driving lessons to boost your driving skills.
“When living in the United States, I always thought of myself as an experienced driver. Things changed after I had moved to the Netherlands to work with an international law firm,” Muriel Thomas (33) tells. “Suddenly, I had to take into account the many cyclists riding really close to my car – and to park my car along a dimly lit canal. It proved to be quite nerve-wracking.”
Her account may sound all too familiar to many expats as well as Dutch residents, Christian van Langen states. As an experienced instructor and owner of the Kennedy driving school, he knows all about the challenges of driving in Amsterdam. “You are mangled between fast taxis on your left, and cyclists on your right, moving in unpredictable ways. You also have to consider trams that have the right of way at most intersections.” CBR exam training
In certain cases, holders of a foreign driver’s license may continue to use their license for a maximum of 185 days after making residence in the Netherlands. When that period has expired, you must pass the regular theory and driving tests at the CBR (central office for motor vehicle driver testing) to obtain a Dutch driver’s license.*
Amrita Singhal (28) is glad she took part in a 6-week training program: “My trial lesson was followed by an evaluation of my driving skills and the way I participate in traffic. Subsequently, it was no problem to schedule my lessons to fit my regular work hours. My instructor was a knowledgeable coach. He really cared that I learned to drive properly, and he did his best to make sure I’d strengthen my weak points. I achieved to pass the test for the first time.”
“To pass the CBR tests as soon as possible, we always recommend to take some lessons in combination with a preliminary test,” Christian van Langen says. “It really enhances your chances of passing the final driving test. It will help you to become familiar with the way the driving test is conducted. Furthermore, the examiner will give you thorough feedback. This way, you’ll realize what behavior is expected. Did you know, for instance, that in most situations cyclists have right of way? Not yielding to a cyclist during your exam means you have failed automatically.”
In recent years, the Kennedy driving school has seen a growing number of expats to apply for lessons to improve their driving. “When taking residence in the Netherlands,” Van Langen continues, “expats from certain countries are able to exchange their regular driver’s license for a Dutch license.* Quite often however, they experience that traffic situations differ a lot from their home country. It may be helpful to take some extra lessons to acquaint oneself with the Dutch way of driving.”
As you may know, the Netherlands is one of the world’s most densely populated countries. That means a lot of traffic is pushed along the many roads and junctions. “Upon entering the motorway, you have to accelerate rather quickly to keep in pace with the other traffic,” Van Langen tells. “On the other hand, when leaving the motorway it is not uncommon to encounter a roundabout – so you’re forced to slow down considerably. To drive safely, you have to display self-confidence, self-assertiveness and decisiveness.”
To meet these demands, Kennedy offers refresher courses. “My decision to invest in some extra driving lessons has certainly earned me a lot of confidence,” Muriel Thomas tells. “I feel free again to drive anywhere I want – not just because I have to, but also when I like to.”
A driving license issued in a not EU/EES country must also have been issued in a particular year in which the applicant was resident in the country of issue for at least 185 days.
If your driving license cannot be exchanged, you must take a regular theory and practical test at the Central Office for Motor Vehicle Driver Testing (CBR).