Cars

introduction

Maastricht’s city policy is focused on a car-free city centre. Many streets in the city centre are not accessible by car. This makes bikes much more efficient than cars for most students. However, some of you may still want to own a car during your studies.

There are three basic things you need to take care of if you want to drive a car in the Netherlands:

  • a driver’s license
  • car insurance
  • taxes

If you drive in Maastricht always carry your valid driver’s license, proof of insurance and vehicle registration documents with you.

license

The first thing you need is a valid driver’s license. If you become a resident of the Netherlands, you can still use your foreign driving license for a certain period. You can use your foreign driver’s license up to 15 years after issue, if it was issued after January 19th, 2013. A driver’s license issued before that date may be used up to 10 years after issue. If your driver’s license was issued outside of the EU you may use it for another 185 days after registering at the municipality. During that period you must obtain a Dutch driving license.

If you do not have a driver’s license at all, it is possible to take driving lessons (rijles) at a driving school (rijschool). It takes on average 40 driving lessons before you are ready to take the driving test and you need to have passed a theory test first. You can compare different driving schools in Maastricht using this website. Read more about the driver’s license in the Netherlands on the website of the Dutch transport directorate (RDW).

taxes

If you’re living in Maastricht and have registered your Dutch address at the municipality, you must pay taxes to the Dutch tax service (belastingdienst) whenever you drive a privately owned, rented, or leased car in the Netherlands. It does not matter if the car is registered in your home country or in the Netherlands. If you only plan on using your foreign registered car in Maastricht for two weeks or less then you don’t have to pay these taxes. Check out this page to see if you’re eligible for the exemption.

If you are planning to drive a car registered in another country for longer than two weeks, you need to declare your car at the Dutch road transport directorate. You can find out how to declare your car at the Dutch road transport directorate here. To learn more about car taxes in the Netherlands visit the website of the Dutch tax service or visit AngloInfo.

Insurance

Dutch law dictates that every driver (car, motorcycle, moped or otherwise) must be insured against legal liability. You are then insured against damage you may cause with your vehicle. However damage done to your vehicle is not covered. A Dutch insurance company will not insure a car registered in a foreign country, so make sure your car is insured in the country it’s registered in. Independer is a well known (car) insurance comparison website. You can find more about car insurance in the Netherlands here.

parking

The city center of Maastricht prioritizes cyclists and pedestrians and therefore there are only few parking spots on the streets.  You will have to buy a parking ticket anywhere in the city center from 08.00 to 18.00 (on Thursdays the time slot is extended until 21.00).The general rule of thumb is that the closer to the city centre you park, the more you can expect to pay.  However, Maastricht has several (cheaper) Park + Walk and Park + Ride locations close to the city center. Visit Maastrichtbereikbaar.nl for a handy overview  of the best places to park. The site also contains a lot of information about different zones and parking spots in town. 

parking permits

Student Parking Permit

Student parking permits are for students who commute to university from abroad. Note: you can only apply for the student parking permit if study in the Netherlands but live abroad. If you live and study and Maastricht, you need a resident parking permit.

This permit entitles you to park in one of the following zones: Brusselse Poort; Jekerdal, Villapark en Sint Pieter;Noorderbrug/Franciscus Romanusweg and Mariaberg.The cost is €5,- per month (plus a one-time admin fee of €15).

You can  apply for this permit directly with the municipality. Follow the link and fill in your information. Note that the documents listed below are required (and must be legible).

  • Proof of registration at your university
  • A certificate of residence (from the place you are registered abroad)
  • The registration number of the car. If the car is registered in the name of somebody else living at your home address, you have to send the documents of this person’s registration as an extra attachment.

Resident Parking Permit

If you live and study in Maastricht (i.e. you do not commute to university from abroad), you can apply for a resident parking permit. This permit entitles you to park your car in the zone you live. Prices range from €35,- to €250,- per year depending on how far away from Maastricht’s center you live. To apply for a residents parking permit download and fill out this form. You can use our guidance document below to help you. Be sure to always place your parking permit clearly visible in your car’s windscreen.

parking fines

In most districts of Maastricht you have to pay to park your car. These districts are clearly marked by several street signs. Unless you have a parking permit you can pay for your parking spot at the parking meters. If you don’t pay for your spot or if you didn’t pay the full amount you will receive a parking fine in the area of about €60.

If you disagree with your parking fine, you can file an appeal within six weeks.

Please note: you always need to pay your parking fine first. Failing to do so results in significantly higher fines. After paying, follow these official guidelines by the municipality to file such an appeal.

car rental

You must be at least 19 to rent a car in the Netherlands to rent a car, but most companies request a minimum age of 21 with two years of driving experience. For more powerful cars, the minimum age can increase to 25, with three years of driving experience. Most companies will also charge an extra fee on top of the normal price if you are under the age of 25. Rules vary between car suppliers, so always check with individual companies to find out about their policies.

You should also contact the company in question to make sure they accept non-Dutch driving licenses and identification. While some companies accept foreign driving licenses, others require a Dutch driving license, credit card and passport/identification. Licenses printed in a non-Roman alphabet (Arabic, Chinese, Japanese, Cyrillic etc) must be complemented by an International driving license.  Always remember to bring a valid ID card or passport at time of pick up.

There are a number of different suppliers in Maastricht where you can get a rental car. Some examples you might want to look at are Sixt, Adrem, and EuropCar. Again, make sure you always call and check with the rental company that they will accept non-Dutch driving licenses and passports. There are also a number of major car rental companies available from the airport. If you don’t know which to go for, it might be worth checking out a comparison site like this.

carpooling

Car sharing can be a cheap and easy way of travelling to different cities. If you need, or want to offer a carpool ride to a specific location then check out these Facebook initiatives: Maastricht’s Mitfahrgelegenheiten and Carpool Maastricht. There are a lot other Facebook pages offering rides to other locations. Try using Facebook’s search function with a combination of the follow keywords: Maastricht, mitfahrgelegenheit, carpool.

Taxi

Taxis can be an expensive choice of transport, particularly for students, but sometimes you may need to take one. Of course, rates vary between companies and you can also expect to pay higher prices during later hours of heavy traffic. Some well-known taxi companies in Maastricht are taxi frenske, taxi service Maastricht and Marzouk taxi service. Check out their websites for contact details and to book a ride.

There are a number of illegal taxi companies operating in Maastricht. Although these may appear cheaper, it is not wise to take one. Illegal drivers do not have a permit or insurance. This means that if something happens (i.e. a traffic accident), you could face a number of problems.

hitchhiking

Hitchhiking in the Netherlands is quite easy and legal in most places (but not on motorways). A basic rule of thumb is that when you are allowed to walk somewhere, you can also stand there for hitchhiking. Sometimes it’s easier to ask people in a service station for a lift rather than waiting by the side of the road pointing with your thumb. Remember that some people might be offended and some service stations may not like strangers approaching their customers. Hitchhiking is done at your own personal risk. A useful resource for hitchhikers is hitchwiki where you can search for the Netherlands or Maastricht to find more specific advice.

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