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Traffic and swimming 

The Netherlands has many roads, cycle paths and water. Different rules apply everywhere. Here you can find more information about traffic regulations, cycling regulations and the rules for swimming.

Traffic regulations in the Netherlands 

What traffic regulations apply in the Netherlands?

Here are the most important general rules for cars and bicycles. You should drive on the right and pass on the left. It is prohibited to behave in a way that endangers or hinders (or could hinder) other road users.

Traffic regulations for cars 

Buying a car in the Netherlands 

Driving in the Netherlands 

Your vehicle must have a valid licence plate in the Netherlands. Your vehicle must also be insured. If it does not comply with the requirements, the vehicle must be taken off the road. You may not continue driving. 

Third-party insurance is mandatory for cars and motorcycles, scooters and mopeds, amongst others. Only if a motorised vehicle has been approved by the RDW for use on public roads can you take out third-party insurance (Motor Vehicle Liability Insurance Act, WAM) for it. The third-party insurance that you take out for your vehicle covers both personal injury and property damage that you cause to another person with your vehicle.

Alcohol, drugs, mobile phones 

The Netherlands has strict rules that govern the use of alcohol and drugs while driving and the fines are high. Besides, you put yourself and others in grave danger. Accidents happen easily and the consequences can be serious.

Winter tyres and winter regulations 

You are required to clear all your car's windows, mirrors, and lights of snow and ice before driving. So keep an ice scraper in the car. You are also required to remove snow from the roof and to ensure the licence plate is legible. You risk a heavy fine if you fail to clear your car of snow and ice.

Cycling regulations

Cyclists must always overtake one another on the left, but they may also overtake other drivers on the right. Cyclists are permitted to ride two abreast. However, they may not hinder other traffic.

Swimming in the Netherlands

There is a great deal of water in the Netherlands, but you cannot swim everywhere. The water is often cold, there are currents, there is boat traffic, or the water is not clean. So pay close attention to where you do and don't swim. It can be dangerous. Only go swimming alone in open water if you are in possession of a swimming diploma and do not go deeper than 1.5 metres.Drowning occurs more often than you think. About three-quarters of drownings happen in open water and about a quarter in and around the house. Most drownings in open water happen in places where there is no supervision and people go into the water spontaneously. Alcohol and swimming do not go together. You risk death by going into the water after you have consumed alcohol. Alcohol impairs your ability to swim and increases the risk of health problems. When you lie in the sun, your body is warmed up. Your body first needs to cool down before you dive into the water. First your head, armpits and chest. Do this gradually. You can lose consciousness due to a sudden change in temperature in the water.

Tips for swimming in open water  

You can check whether the water is safe before you go swimming somewhere. You can do this via this website

In trouble?  

Do not panic if you fall into the water. Float on your back to calm down, or find something on which to float like a football or a plastic bag, for example. That way, you ensure you remain above the water. Then call or wave for help. Wait calmly until help arrives. See someone in trouble in the water?