Public transport and OV chipkaart

All cities have bus and/or train connectivity. Amsterdam, Rotterdam, Den Haag (The Hague) and Utrecht also have tram and/or metro connectivity. Some places and islands are connected by ferry as well (OV chipcart does not apply here). The network is very good and more often a connection wait time is less than 15 minutes. Also, they are most times on schedule though it is better you are prepared for delays and missed connection. Go to http://9292.nl for door to door planning of your travel.

There are 3 ways of paying for your transport:

- Buying a ticket for each travel
– via an anonymous OV chipcard (a credit card like card)
– via a personalized OV chipcard
The advantage of travelling with OV chipcard over a ticket is that it is usually a lot cheaper (especially when the travel distance is small within city). It is also very convenient.

OV chipcard (ov-chipkaart):

What is it?
OV chipcart is a credit-card size card on which you can load currency and use it for public-transport travel.
There are many places where you can load the OV chipcard with currency. There are automated machines at the train station, bus station and even some stores (Albert Heijn for example) where you can load your currency.

There are 2 types of OV chipcart:
— One anonymous and available over the counter for a fee of about €8 (may vary). This can be bought at any major train and bus station.
— The other is with your identity. It needs to be applied online and needs a European bank account, local address and a picture of you.

This will also cost the same as anonymous, will take about 2 weeks to arrive at your address. Advantage is that you can purchase discount plans. Example: trains offer a discount plan called “Dal Voordeal” that cost €50 for 1 year, but gives 40% discount on tickets for yourself + 3 fellow travelers on weekends and also offpeak hours on weekdays for 1 year from the date you purchased the plan. This discount can be availed only if you have personalized chip card and not on the anonymous card. Additional info: https://www.ov-chipkaart.nl/aanvragen/welkekaartpastbiju/

How to use it?
You need to swipe the card at the OV chipcard machine at the entrance to railway station or inside the bus/tram/metro. Before boarding you swipe in and after your journey you swipe out. If you forget to swipe out, a high flat fee will be charged (example: €20 for train travel if you forget to checkout).
Note: Only for trains and metro, there is no need to swipe out and then swipe in at a connection (ex: if you have to change train at Utrecht when travelling from Eindhoven to Amsterdam, you do not need to swipe out at Utrecht). For tram and bus, you need to swipe out.

 City transport ticketing:

Some cities have day pass and hourly pass while others don’t. If a pass is not available, you need to buy a ticket for each leg of travel. If you want to make frequent use of transport, a day or hourly pass may be cheaper than OV chipkaart.

Train system:

There are 2 types of service. The Sprinter (also called Stop train) is a shuttle service that stops at a lot of stations en route to its destination. The other is Intercity which is express service connecting major cities.

Both have 1st and 2nd class coaches clearly written on the door. But more importantly, some 1st and 2nd class coaches are marked ‘SILENT’. Occupants are expected not to talk or create sound in these coaches.

Ticketing is possible via ticket vending machine or OV chipcart. If you do not have a OV chipcart, you can buy tickets at the vending machine. On your OV chipcard you may load just some currency, monthly pass, yearly pass, group discount etc.

One very useful discount costs €50/year and is available only on OV chipcard with identity. It gives you and upto 3 other members with you a 40% discount during off-peak hours (all day on weekends and weekdays 9.00-16:30 and after 18.30) for 365 days from activation.

0 yrs to 4yrs – free

4yrs – 11yrs – €2.50 for the full day when accompanied by an adult

12yrs+ full fare

Car & Driving

 You can drive in The Netherlands if either of the below is true:

  • You have a foreign license in English or any European language (or IDP) and you have resided in The Netherlands less than 6 months yet.
  • You have a Dutch driving license

For a rules book in English, see below.

http://www.bol.com/nl/p/driving-license-traffic-regulations/1001004011285145/?Referrer=ADVNLPPcefb0200cdbf92970000011f0e000024255

To get a Dutch driving license:

  1. Certain country nationals can just exchange their foreign license for a nominal fee at the local town hall (Indian national is not one of these).
  2. If you have 30% ruling, irrespective of the nationality, you can exchange your foreign license (original license, not IDP) to a Dutch license. You will have to surrender your original Indian license in exchange for a Dutch license. In about a month, your original Indian license will be sent to the Indian embassy. You can collect it from there if you go in the afternoon. You can collect personally or authorize someone with a hand written letter.
  3. Exchanging your license is a multi step process:
    • Buy an application form at the town hall paying about €25.
    • Fill it (scroll to the bottom of this page for guidelines).
    • Send it to the address mentioned in the form (something like CBR…).
    • In about 2-3 weeks you will get an approval letter from CBR
    • Submit your application again in the town hall along with CBR approval letter, original license, 30% ruling approval letter and photo. Pay about €25.
    • In about 2-3 weeks you will get a letter saying your Dutch license is ready and can be collected at the town hall
    • Note: Occasionally, you will get a letter from RDW (equivalent to RTO in India) that you need to submit “Original statement of authenticity of your Indian driving license”. In such cases, you can ask your issuing RTO officer in India to issue “extract of driving license”. Your relative/ DL school can go to RTO office with copy of DL and ask them for “Extract of Driving License”….basically you need to fill a form where you need to fill your details like your dl number dob etc. Then they will put a stamp on it and give you half of that form and half goes into their register. It is the same form that you need to use when you have lost your dl. Send this extract to RDW.
    • Go to the town hall and collect it.
    • If you can exchange your license, your spouse will also be able to exchange in the same way.
    • If you are not eligible for exchange, you will have to go thru a theory and driving test. For info, go to http://www.expatica.com/nl/leisure/travel_tourism/how-to-get-a-dutch-drivers-licence-1672.html

Road Rules:

  1. Give way to ambulance/police/fire engine (when flashing lights are on). Drive to the side even over the curb if required. Stop if needed. Idea is to adjust yourself for the emergency vehicle to pass.
  2. Driving is on the right hand side of the road (opposite of India).
  3. Other than that, most of the rules are the same as in India….only that you need to follow them more strictly.
  4. People expect nobody to make mistakes and they do not take much caution. So if you make a mistake it could prove costly to you.
  5. Many people coming new to NL and who already know driving still take 1 or 2 classes from a driving school just to get accustomed to the rules. This costs about 30/hour and is worth it.
  6. Most important rules to remember are:
    • Most times you are on ‘priority road’ (a yellow rhombus sign post just before or at the intersection) and you have the right of way at an intersection. When you are not, at an intersection, vehicle approaching the same intersection from your right hand side has the right of way. You need to stop until your right hand side road is clear.
    • At an intersection, an inverted White triangle with Red border means ‘Yield’.  You have the lower priority.  The other road is a priority road and so you need to give way to vehicles on the other road.
    • In a round about (circle), the vehicle approaching from the left has the right of way.
    • When turning at an intersection/signal-light, cyclists and pedestrians could be crossing the road. Give way to them.
    • A full green light will mean opposite traffic also has green light. So if you want to turn left, proceed only if the opposing traffic is clear.
    • Do not honk unless you see a risk of accident. It is considered rude/insult and could get other drivers crazy at you.
    • For personal cars, a child must travel in a child-seat appropriate for the age/height/weight.
    • Golden rule: Do not hit pedestrians and cyclists at any time irrespective of your right of way! It could prove very expensive.
    • Last but not the least…..driving is on the right side of the road (opposite to India). It is not very difficult to adjust if you remember one thing….’the driver is always in the middle of the road’!
    • If you know driving, I suggest you take 1 or 2 driving classes with clear intention of knowing the rules and getting used to civilized driving.

To Rent/Lease/Own a car in Netherlands:

  1. Renting: By default you will get a stick shift (manual gear). If you need automatic, you need to specify at the time of reservation. You can rent a car if your license is in English / also-in-English. Else you need an IDP. You will also need a credit card. Cheapcars is an online reservation facility. Watch out if there is a mileage restriction when you are making the reservation…..generally booking via cheapcars comes with unlimited mileage. Rental price may vary by location even within a city. So check out prices in all nearby places.
  2. Company car: Depending on your yearly driving mileage, it might be cheaper to go for a company car from your employer (if they provide). If you intend to use company car for personal use, 1/4 the price of the car is costed to you annually. In net result it amounts to over €400 in taxes per month. But on the other hand you do not have any expenses including fuel, maintenance and depreciation.
  3. If you are using your own car for business purpose, depending on your contract with your employer, you might get reimbursed @ 19cents/km for business kilometers.
  4. Compare the costs from the above 2 points before you decide to buy or go for company car.
  5. If you decide to go for a company car, your employer can provide you the details. To buy a car, read on….
  6. You can buy a used car from a dealer (called Occasion in Dutch) or from private owner. Buying from a dealer is popular since you can ask for guarantee.
  7. Price varies largely based on the Age, Mileage and the condition of the car (other than model of course). Range can be €500 (five hundred) to thousands.
  8. autotrader.nl is a good website to search for cars. You will get an idea of the price.
  9. If you do not have a trade-in car, you can bargain for a good discount (start with € 1500/- less than sticker price)
  10. Two things to look for when buying from a dealer:
    • ‘BOVAG guarantee’ – 3 months for low priced cars (depends on the dealer, but generally below €4500 ); 6 months for higher priced cars. Covers almost everything in the car.
    • NAP – a monitoring system that guarantees the odometer mileage is not tampered. Open the bonnet and look for new engine parts. If parts are new, it probably means that part was replaced recently. May not be good sign especially if the mileage is low.
    • Some type of cars will need their belt to be replaced once they have run certain distance (~ 100,000 Km) or certain years (~10 years). This will cost about €400/- depending on the car. Ask the dealer about it to know what you are buying.
    • You will need to pay a monthly road tax for the car depending on its weight. Larger and heavier the car, the more expensive (diesel cars are heavier than petrol versions). In Netherlands like in India, on one hand the petrol cars are cheaper than diesel version while on the other hand diesel is cheaper than petrol. Even then, the difference in road tax is significant enough to influence your decision to go for petrol or diesel car.
    • Every year you need to get your car APK certified….a check that your car is in safe condition. Your dealer most likely will have this facility to check. Costs around €25.
    • Most cars will need a yearly servicing or service after certain mileage. This could cost from about 100 to 400.
  11. 24×7 Roadside assistance is very important. In case of a breakdown, you just need to call them and they will come to the location of the car and either fix the problem (ex: puncture, battery down, no fuel, locked out etc.) or tow your vehicle to the nearest garage. You can opt coverage for even entire Western Europe. If it is rental or lease car, most likely the car agency will provide you 24×7 roadside assistance. If you buy a car, ANWB is the most popular roadside assistance. Another one is Route Mobiel. They cost about €100 per year and is worth it.
  12. GPS is essential. If you are lost, it is very difficult to locate you destination even if you are within very close range. The reason is, every road has its own name and the name of road will likely change at an intersection! Also even very small streets are named and so you do not have a clue what to look for.

Filling the first form after you buy from the Gemeente: 

There are a list of questions all in Dutch. To save you some time typing it into ‘google translate’, below are the questions and the google translation as of May 2012:

omwisseling buitenlands rijbewijs = foreign exchange license

  1. Hebt u last van of last gehad van epileptische aanvallen, flauwvallen, aanvallen van abnormale slaperigheid overdag of andere bewustzijnsstoornissen? = Do you suffer or suffered from epileptic seizures, fainting, seizures of abnormal daytime sleepiness or other disturbances of consciousness?
  2. Hebt u last van of last gehad van evenwichtsstoornissen of ernstige duizelingen?  = Do you suffer or suffered from severe vertigo or balance disorders?
  3. Bent u onder behandeling of onder behandeling geweest voor een psychiatrische stoornis, een hersenziekte – zoals een beroerte – of een ziekte van het zenuwstelsel? = Are you being treated or been treated for a psychiatric disorder, a brain disease – such as a stroke – or a disease of the nervous system?
  4. Maakt u misbruik van of hebt u misbruik gemaakt van alcohol, geneesmiddelen, drugs of andere geestverruimende of bedwelmende middelen of bent u daarvoor ooit medisch onderzocht of onder behandeling geweest? =  Do you abuse or abuse made ​​of alcohol, drugs, or hallucinogenic drugs or other intoxicants before or are you ever been medically examined or treated?
  5. Wordt of werd u behandeld voor inwendige ziekten als suikerziekte, hart- en vaatziekten, verhoogde bloeddruk, nierziekte of longziekte? Of hebt u een hart- of vaatoperatie ondergaan?  = Is or was receiving treatment for internal diseases as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, hypertension, kidney or lung disease? Whether you need a heart or vascular surgery?
  6. Kunt u een arm, een hand of uw vingers niet of slechts beperkt gebruiken?  = Can you give an arm, a hand or fingers have limited or no use?
  7. Kunt u een been of voet niet of slechts beperkt gebruiken? = Can a leg or foot have limited or no use?
  8. Ziet u minder goed met één of beide ogen, zelfs als u gebruik maakt van een bril of contactlenzen? = You see less with one or both eyes even when using glasses or contact lenses?
  9. Wordt of werd u behandeld door een oogarts? Of hebt u een oogoperatie of een laserbehandeling van de ogen ondergaan? =Are or were you treated by an ophthalmologist? Whether you need an eye operation or of laser eye surgery?
  10. Gebruikt u medicijnen die volgens de bijsluiter de rijvaardigheid kunnen beïnvloeden, zoals slaapmiddelen, kalmeringsmiddelen, antidepressieve middelen, antipsychotische middelen of opwekmiddelen? =Are you taking medication according to the leaflet the ability to drive influence, such as sedatives, tranquilizers, antidepressants, antipsychotic drugs or generating means?
  11. Hebt u nog andere aandoeningen, ziekten of functiebeperkingen die het besturen van motorrijtuigen moeilijker maken? = Do you have other diseases, illnesses or disabilities who are driving of motor vehicles more difficult?

** Information references and credits : http://indiansinnetherlands.com/