I got my driver’s license on my 16th birthday. That means I’ve been able to drive for longer than I haven’t been able to! So you can imagine my surprise to learn that I was going to need to go through the exam process of getting my Dutch driver’s license!
For citizens of non-EU countries, drivers licences are valid for six months from the date you register at your local municipality. There are some countries that have special license exchange agreements with the Netherlands, and while Canada is on the list, it’s only for Quebec Class 5 licenses. That means that I couldn’t exchange my Ontario Class G license, and I need to take the theory and practical exams before driving again.
First up was the theory exam.
RB’s dad is a driving instructor and he lent me one of his theory books in Dutch to study. I spent so much time looking up what all the words meant that I missed a lot of the rules that I was supposed to be learning. Thankfully the study guides are available in English! Mine is available to borrow, please let me know if you’d like it!
There are some subtle (and not so subtle) differences between the rules of the road here versus in Canada. I struggled because there are specific rules for every type of road user – cars, trucks, motorcycles, mopeds, light mopeds, four-wheeled mopeds, disabled carriages, bikes and pedestrians. Sometimes rules apply to all the road users, sometimes to a sub-set of road users, and sometimes to just one type. I kept getting confused which rules applied to which road users. One of the weirdest thing about driving in the Netherlands for me is that there are uncontrolled intersections! When you arrive at these intersection at the same time as another vehicle, the vehicle to the right has the right of way. I’m still trying to wrap my head around that, and am keeping my fingers crossed that doesn’t happen in my practical exam!!
There’s an entire chapter in the study guide that I re-titled “don’t be a jerk.” I think my favourite passage from the chapter has the following to say about “old people:” “Show respect, patience and social behaviour. In time, you will also be old.”
After reading through the manual, I found an online test system which offered exam style questions to practice with. After I booked my exam, I paid for 2 weeks of access so I could do as many practice tests as possible. While I had some issues with the system, it gave me a glimpse of the types of questions I could expect on the exam.
On the day of the exam, I almost missed the bus because I ran back home to get my passport! It turns out I only needed my visa and the reservation number, which I wrote down on a scrap piece of paper rather than printing the whole letter.
The CBR has a handy little brochure which describes how the exam will go, and it was pretty accurate. After you register, you just have to keep an eye on the screens with the lists of candidates (by number) for instructions like “put your stuff in a locker,” and “check in with the desk.”
During the exam you’re only allowed to have your ID and reservation number. There are lockers available for use, which were fairly easy to operate and contained instructions for their in Dutch . Even so, I had to show a few young guys how to use them – I guess they didn’t see the instructions.
There are two parts to the theory exam:
Part 1 includes 25 questions about danger recognition/ hazard perception, and requires a score of 13 to pass. As an experienced driver, I found this part straightforward. I regularly got 20 questions right on the practice exams, and had 20 in the regular exam.
Part 2 includes 40 questions concerning traffic rules and insight into traffic situations, and requires a score of 35 to pass. This was the part I was nervous about. I regularly got 32 questions right on the practice exams and most of the questions I missed were because I didn’t read the question closely enough. Despite not being sure about several of my answers, I managed to get 36 right on the exam and passed!
What I failed to do was note my locker number…
Thankfully I found it on the 2nd try, but not before trying to get into the locker of the guy standing behind me. Whoops!