Car prices in the Netherlands are about dead centre of the European average. Taxes, however, are extremely high. This helpful site can help you to calculate what you will need to pay http://www.belastingdienst.nl.
Here are a few recommended dealerships. Most of the top car manufacturers are represented in Amsterdam, so if you have a particular car in mind, visit http://tupalo.com/en/amsterdam/c/car-dealers for a comprehensive list of dealerships in Amsterdam, especially make-specific stores. Be aware, they aren’t listed in any particular order.
- A-Point, Dealership for new and used cars including Volkswagen, Porsche, Skoda and Seat – http://www.a-point.nl
- Audicentrum Jedi, Dealership carrying Audi, VW and Seat cars both new and used – http://www.jedi.nl
- Autobedrijf Van Voorden Almere, New and used Opel cars – http://www.opelalmere.nl
- Autoboll, Citroen dealership – http://www.citroen.nl/CWH/nl-NL/Dealers/68-Boll
Call ahead to the car dealers to see if a test drive is possible. Ask them about certification and recent tests that have been done on the car (an APK certificate showing that your car meets safety and environmental standards is required for second hand cars – it is a fairly standard road worthiness test. You can find out more information about the test and where you can get it here http://www.apk.nl).
Once the sale is completed, the dealer will register the car in your name and you can then pay road tax and take out insurance (see below).
Second-hand Dealers and Private Sales
When you buy a car from a second-hand dealer or from a private individual, it is always a good idea to be sure that the car has a valid APK certificate at the time of purchase. While you can always have your car inspected after you purchase it, this will ensure that there are no large or small problems that you will get along with the vehicle.
If you do not go through a dealer but still need to register a car you can do this at your local city office (stadsdeel kantoor – find your local office here http://www.amsterdam.nl/stadsdelen). You will need to bring valid identification and a certificate of ownership. This certificate will be provided by the dealer if the car is new. If buying from a private individual, they should transfer the certificate into your name at any post office (you will not need necessarily need to be there), and provide you with their old, invalidated certificate of ownership for your records.
You will also need to visit your city office (see website above) about road tax, which is paid annually. The RDW monitors the payments of all cars that are registered in the Netherlands, and if you are late with paying the road tax, you are issued a warning with a penalty notice that is a reminder to pay your road tax. Only under mitigating circumstances can you perhaps avoid having to pay the penalty. It is of course wise to pay the tax immediately upon receiving such a notice.
If you do purchase a car, shop around to see if you can tie your car insurance to your health and liability insurance as it may prove cheaper. The major banks in particular often offer such all in one deals (see the ‘Main Banks’ and ‘Car Insurance’ sections for more information).
If you plan to stay for 6 months or less you probably will not need to get a Dutch driving license and can just use your license from back home – depending on where you are from. If you stay longer than six months you will need to get a Dutch license which may require that you take the Dutch driving test – again depending on where your license was issued. You can find full details on the status of your license and what you will need to do to drive in the Netherlands at this link http://www.rijbewijs.nl/nl/english.asp. International licenses and licenses from other EU countries will not be accepted if you are a long term resident.
The Dutch motorists’ association has lots of useful info on its website including tips for repairs, advice for buyers (what to look for and watch out for when buying a car), and insurance information. http://www.anwb.nl (in Dutch)