Transport and traffic
We are proud to say that the public transport system in the Netherlands is excellent. No matter where you want to go, you can easily and comfortably get there by train, bus, tram or metro. The chipcard payment system (OV-chipkaart) is the official payment system for train, bus, tram and metro. With an OV-Chipkaart there is no need to acquire individual tickets. You top up the card and simply check in and check out of public transport with your card.
There are two kinds of cards. The first one is an anonymous card that does not log your travel data. You can purchase this card at an OV-Chipkaart machine at airports, stations and several retail points for €7,50. This card can be used by more than one person (not at the same time).
The second card type is a personal OV-Chipkaart. You can only purchase this one online (€7,50). You can load credit on your card manually or load credit automatically. The personal card comes with some other advantages. For instance you have an online overview of your journey and costs. This card can only be used by the official cardholder. For more information please check the OV-Chipkaart website.
As soon as you have your OV-Chipkaart you are ready to travel. The best website to plan your trip with is http://9292.nl/en. You will receive a detailed travel advice for train, bus, tram and metro. You will also be informed about current fares. Wherever you are, travel information is always at your disposal on your mobile phone through the free Apps.
If you decide public transport is not for you and purchase a car instead, there are some basis issues to bear in mind.
1) You need to have a valid driver’s license. If you have a foreign driver’s license and wish to trade it for a Dutch driver’s license, you should contact the municipality where you are registered. They will contact the RDW (a public authority in te mobility chain) on your behalf. The Dutch government has assigned several important tasks tot the RDW. Driver’s license being one of them. More information can be found on the website of The Hague International Centre of check RDW directly: www.RDW.nl (choose information in English)
2) Make sure you are insured. In the insurances chapters on our website we already advised to take out a car insurance if you are the owner of the car but at least have an liability insurance.
3) There is a compulsory periodic technical inspection. The Periodic Technical Inspection (PTI, Dutch APK) is a compulsory inspection in Europe with the aim of improving road safety and protecting the environment. If you own a car the RDW will sent you a notification when your car is due for inspection. You can choose any garage you like as long as they are approved by RDW. Cost may vary. For more information check the RDW website
4) Pay Road tax. As soon as you have registered a car on your name you need to pay Motor Vehicle Tax. The amount you need to pay depends on the weight and age of your car and the type of fuel. Forms are available at the Post or Tax office.
5) Be informed about traffic rules. The Dutch government has issued a leaflet about “Road traffic signs and regulations in the Netherlands”. Basics are: In the Netherlands we drive on the right hand side of the road. Cars and bikes coming from your right have the right of way also on roundabouts unless specified otherwise.
The default speed limits in the Netherlands are 50 km/h (31 mph) inside built-up areas, 80 km/h (50 mph) outside built-up areas, 100 km/h (62 mph) on expressways (autowegen), and 130 km/h (81 mph) on motorways (autosnelwegen).
Even for the Dutch the speed limit om motorways can be somewhat puzzling. Please note that at the hours stated under the sign the maximum speed is 120 km/h. Outside this time frame the maximum speed is 130 km/h.
Traffic violations in The Netherlands can be quite an attack on your bank account. The Netherlands probably has the highest traffic fines in Europe. Fines are yearly automatically increased. Better safe than sorry so we will give you a short outline on fines (2016).
Mobile Phone use: €230,00 (even holding the device in your hand)
Not wearing seatbelt: €144,00
Ignoring a red light: €237,00
Tail gating: €280,00 (up to €700)
Ignoring a stop sign: €370,00
The penalty fine levels of the most common minor offences are listed in the Public Prosecution Service's Fines Database (Dutch).