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Buying & Financing a Car in The Netherlands in 2023

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The Netherlands may be the cycling capital of the world, but its also a great place to own a car. Many expats choose to purchase a car when living in NL. It makes commuting, day trips and exploring neighbouring countries a lot more convenient.

Pay Attention! Borrowing Money Costs Money

Can I buy a car in the Netherlands as an expat?

Yes of course you can buy and sell a car as an expat in the Netherlands. The main question that many expats get stuck with is whether they can get a loan to finance a new or used car. Otherwise it will have to be paid for in cash.

Can I get car finance as an expat?

Yes but there are some requirements for this, such as having lived here for 3 years and having sufficient income to cover the cost of the loan.

Car finance can be arranged via car dealerships (for example Auto.nl offer car finance) or you can apply for a loan via banks and other lenders. To compare car loans from various providers you can try a site like Geld.nl. But PLEASE read the requirements below first to see if you’re eligible – most expats are not and their application gets rejected.

Requirements for getting a loan as an expat

Lenders will want to see your employment contract, proof of your income, and your outgoings to determine whether you can afford the loan.

Lenders will want to see proof of the following:

  • That you have lived in the Netherlands for 3 years and can prove this*
  • That you do not have negative credit history in the Netherlands
  • That you have a Dutch residence permit types I, II, III, IV, V.
  • That your income meets certain thresholds (and your outgoings are not too high).

*This seems to be a hard rule for all lenders. It definitely applies to all lenders on Geld.nl when comparing loans there. We are still looking for lenders who do not follow the rule.

Note: Read the requirements carefully. Most expats who apply for a loan for car finance don’t get approved due to the rules above. As a result many expats choose to lease a car instead. Alternatively you may want to purchase a cheaper car within your means, or with a smaller loan (Saldodipje).

What are rates for borrowing in the Netherlands?

Borrowing rates for car loans can be as low as 4.8% according to Geld.nl (at time of writing BNP Paribas offer this on loan of €15k). That means you will pay an additional interest on top of your loan at 4.8%. So a loan of €15,000 over 12 years would cost a total of €15,384 at 4.8% interest if you are eligible for that loan at that rate.

How do lenders determine my maximum loan amount?

To determine the maximum amount you can borrow, lenders look at the following:

  • Your income
  • Your family situation
  • The minimum amount of money you need to live on based on your income and family situation. For this purpose, the NIBUD sets borrowing standards every year .
  • Your housing costs
  • Other financial obligations that you have, such as costs for a (lease) car, childcare, alimony, your student debt and any other loans.

Your maximum loan is your borrowing capacity per month times 50. You must be able to repay 2 percent of the maximum loan each month. Suppose your borrowing capacity is 300 euros per month. This means that according to the loan standards you can repay a maximum of 300 euros each month on your loan. Your maximum loan is then 50 times 300, or 15,000 euros.

Costs of owning a car in NL

Remember there are other costs involved with owning a car (as opposed to leasing a car).

Car insurance: On average car insurance costs Dutch citizens between €40 and €80 per month but may be higher for expats.

BPM: A tax you pay on your car when first registering it. If you buy from a dealership in your name then this will be included in the price.

Road tax: A tax you pay as a car owner based on your car’s CO2 emissions. It can cost between €100 and €200 and is paid every three months. There’s no road tax for electric cars.

Inspections: The APK test (a roadworthiness test like an MOT) is carried out once every 2 years and costs around €20. If something doesn’t pass the test then this will become an additional cost.

Parking: This could be your biggest expense depending on where you live. See our cheap parking guide for help on parking (coming soon).

Fuel: Petrol, diesel, and gas aren’t cheap, especially in big cities like Amsterdam. Maybe you’re considering an electric car instead.

Where to buy a car

Marktplaats – Used cars

Marktplaats is an Ebay-like auction site in the Netherlands that has a large second-hand autos section.

There is no English-language site, but you can translate the site using your browser (e.g. Chrome). Many sellers will be able to respond to questions in English via messages.

Marktplaats has 7500 new vehicles added daily. You can search within your local neighbourhood.

How to avoid getting ripped off on Marktplaats

Because it is an auction site there is a chance you can get ripped off by some sellers.

  • Check the sellers’ profile for how long they have been using Marktplaats and what their review rating is.
  • Message the seller to see how well they communicate and how helpful they are.
  • Check the payment types accepted. The yellow “Gelijk Oversteken Service” icon tells you that your payment can be withheld until you have the vehicle. Don’t pay via Tikkie or bank transfer because these types of payment are not protected in the same way.
  • Check the vehicle history via the RDW or you can do a more comprehensive check using Finnik.
  • Take an expert with you to assess the vehicle.
  • Take a test drive in the car.

Go to Marktplaats

Auto.nl – New and used

Go to Auto.nl.

For a more convenient and trustworthy used car purchase you can try Auto.nl. Prices may be higher than some Marktplaats deals but Auto.nl guarantee that cars are in great condition. Their mechanics do a 31-point check of each vehicle including exterior, interior, underneath, under the hood and car history checks.

Where to apply for car finance

Compare vehicle loans at Geld.nl. They cover a wide range of lenders and a 9.3 rating on TrustPilot. Plus the site works 90% of the time in translated mode (Chrome browser).

For smaller loans up to €1500 there’s also Saldodipje but be warned, they have poor ratings on TrustPilot and you will need a guarantor to back the loan for you with all the paperwork to go with it.

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