Buying a car in the Netherlands
Can I pay for a car in cash?
Yes, there are no restrictions on this. However, some institutions and professionals are required to report any unusual transactions (including the identity and other details of the person involved).
If you travel within the EU, you don't need to declare money you take with you to customs. When entering or leaving the EU, you must declare any sum of money of or equivalent to EUR 10 000 and above to customs using a specific form.
What about payment of VAT?
Within an intra-EU transaction new cars should be sold without VAT. A car is considered new if no more than 6 months have passed since the date on which it was first registered or if its mileage does not exceed 6 000 km. In practice, some sellers may require payment of VAT as a deposit, to be refunded once the car is registered in the buyer's country. Check in advance with the seller how to claim the VAT refund, i.e. what documentation the seller needs from you.
All other cars are considered second hand (more than 6 months since the date of first registration and mileage of more than 6 000 km). They are generally sold inclusive of VAT (21 %) if the supplier is a commercial seller (the supply is not liable to VAT if the supplier is a private person). You don't have to pay VAT in your country of residence.
Is the seller obliged to provide a vehicle inspection?
No. In the Netherlands, the first periodic inspection has to take place 4 years after the vehicle is first registered. The next two inspections take place at 2-year intervals. Subsequently, the vehicle must be inspected every year.
Is the Dutch vehicle inspection recognised in my home country?
Some countries recognise it. Check in advance with your national authority to avoid unnecessary costs.
Can I have an expert carry out a check on the car at the seller's premises?
Yes, if the seller agrees and usually at your own expense. A check at the premises can be performed by a Royal Dutch Touring Club (ANWB) inspector or you can ask the seller to do it. However, a third party will give an independent opinion. The ANWB has two inspection centres:
- Laan van Haamstede 20, 2497 GE Den Haag E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Winthontlaan 40, 3526 KV Utrecht E-mail: email@example.com
Average costs: EUR 160-350
What should I look out for in the contract of sale?
Read the contract carefully and only sign contracts you understand. Some traders try to exclude legal guarantee rights by claiming that the contract is a business-to-business contract or that the car is sold "without warranties" (only in business-to-consumer contracts would such a clause be considered null and void). Make sure that the name of the seller is the same as the name given in the registration document, or that the seller has power of attorney to sell the car in the registered owner's name. If you buy from a trader, make sure that the name of the company is mentioned in the contract and that there is an indication regarding VAT.
Can I cancel a signed contract?
- If the contract is signed on the seller's premises, you have no legal right to withdraw (unless the contract includes the possibility of withdrawal).
- If the contract is a distance sale contract and you have not yet collected the car from the seller's premises, you can withdraw from the contract before delivery. You can also withdraw up to 14 days from delivery of the car to your address. If you collect the car at the seller's premises, the contract is usually signed there and either will not foresee or will exclude the right to a cooling off period.
What documents should the seller provide?
- The contract of sale or an invoice
- The registration certificate (Kentekenbewijs)
- A European Certificate of Conformity – COC (as of 1 January 2016, cars in the Netherlands are registered on the basis of a digital COC in line with EU requirements). If the seller cannot provide a COC, you can contact the manufacturer or the importer in your country to obtain a duplicate, but you will have to pay a fee. If the manufacturer cannot provide the COC, you can ask the RDW – the Dutch road traffic agency
- An NAP document indicating the mileage of the car at the time of every inspection can be provided by the seller, or the buyer can find this online.
Check if other documents are needed in the country where you intend to register the car.
Should I apply for temporary plates to drive the car home?
If a car bought in the Netherlands does not have Dutch number plates, you need to ask for transit plates. These can be used in all EU Member States and their validity expires after 14 days. If the car has Dutch number plates, the destination country decides if transit plates may be used or if the plates need to be changed. Check with the authorities of your country of residence and those of the countries through which you might travel.
Competent authority: Rijksdienst voor Wegverkeer (RDW) Tel: +31 598 39 33 30
Price: EUR 10.77
Timeframe: issued immediately
Validity: 14 days
You can order 1-day number plates in advance at the RDW website. You may also be able to apply for transit plates from your home country. Check with your relevant national authority.
Regular national plates
If you wish to drive home with the national plates still on the car, are you obliged to return them to the competent registration offices, either in the country of previous registration or in the registration country?
If a car with a Dutch licence plate is to be transported to a foreign country, the registration needs to be cancelled with the approval authority (RDW). To do so, you need to go to a RDW garage. The approval authority will cancel the registration in its system and the licence plate needs to be handed over immediately. As the car no longer has a licence plate, to drive it, you can create your own licence plate by taking a white licence plate and writing the previous licence number on it, or by asking a manufacturer to make a specific licence plate.
Do I need temporary insurance?
When driving the car home, you must be covered by insurance allowing you to drive on public roads.
If I have a complaint about a cross-border purchase, whom do I contact?
Contact your local ECC: www.eccnederland.nl
What out of court dispute resolution body is available in the Netherlands?
Geschillencommissie Voertuigen (Postbus 90600, 2509 LP Den Haag). It deals with claims regarding the purchase of new cars, second-hand cars bought before 30 March 2002 for at least EUR 3 403 of which the seller is a member of BOVAG (the Dutch federation of car traders and garage owners), second-hand cars bought on or after 30 March 2002 for at least EUR 4 500 of which the seller is a member of BOVAG, repair or maintenance, inspection or damage assessment performed by a garage and complaints concerning new or second-hand spare parts.
To whom do I report cases of fraud?
Online fraud can be reported to the fraud helpdesk (by phone or online). A Dutch consumer can also report fraud to the local police by visiting the police station, by phone or by filling in a form. A consumer from another country can contact the police
Information provided by ECC-Net in March 2016 - see our legal notice.