Living in the Netherlands?
Education and Driving in the Netherlands
Secondary Education: On Your Own Level
Children attend secondary school for 4 to 6 years. There are three types of secondary schools in the Netherlands:
- Vocational Secondary School (voorbereidend middelbaar beroepsonderwijs — VMBO)
- General Secondary Education (Hoger Algemeen Voortgezet Onderwijs — HAVO)
- University Preparatory School (VoorbereidendWetenschappelijk Onderwijs — VWO)
Admission to HAVO and VWO is subject to academic achievement. Foreign languages have a high priority in all types of secondary education. Besides English, a second foreign language, usually French or German, is obligatory. VWO and HAVO may even require a third foreign language.
International schools are, of course, a popular alternative to Dutch schools for expat children. They are mostly located in bigger cities such as Amsterdam or The Hague. Some primary schools also offer an international academic program for expat children.
The Foundation for International Education in the Netherlands (Stichting Internationaal Onderwijs) has a list of international schools for newly arrived expat families. You can use the search form on their website to find the right school for your child. It also provides contact information for different schools plus additional details on the curriculum and fees.
Going to University
Places in university degree courses are usually assigned centrally by the Centraal Bureau Aanmelding en Loting of the Dienst Uitvoering Onderwijs (DUO) in Groningen. Some universities, however, also offer a decentralized selection system. In that case, you should get in touch with the school of your choice. When you have been admitted, you still have to register with DUO.
Many Dutch universities also offer academic programs in English and/or German. However, for most majors fluency in Dutch is obligatory. The fees are the same all over the country and can be paid at once or in installments. In some cases, students have to pay Instellingscollegegeld instead, for example when they study at a private institution. This sum is determined by the individual university and usually higher than the average annual fee.
Relaxed Driving and Toll Roads
Traffic in the Netherlands is comparatively relaxed. However, in case of any traffic violation, the owner of the vehicle is held responsible. This means that you have to pay any fines which arise even if you were not the driver who caused the offense. If you don’t pay the fine on time, it will be raised by 25–50%.
Interstates and highways are usually free of charge in the Netherlands, with two exceptions: the Kiltunnel and theWesterscheldetunnel. The Kiltunnel is located between Dordrecht and Hoekse Waard and costs 2.00 EUR for motorbikes and cars. Bus drivers have to pay 5.00 EUR to use the tunnel. The Westerscheldetunnel is a 6.6-km-long tunnel under the Western Scheldt (Westerschelde) between Ellewoutsdijk and Terneuzen. This makes it the longest tunnel for highway traffic in the Netherlands. It costs 2.50 EUR for motorcycles, 5 EUR for cars and 18.20 EUR for small trucks and buses.
Insuring Your Car and Paying Taxes
When you buy and register a car in the Netherlands, you have to get insurance for it. This may not be necessary if you travel to the Netherlands for a short visit only. Still, it is advisable to bring an international insurance card along. For a longer stay, however, you will need insurance from a Dutch provider. Insurance companies grant a discount for accident-free driving.
You will also be charged a motor vehicle tax (Motorrijtuigenbelasting — MB) for your car as soon as you register it. The exact amount is determined by the weight of the car, the kind of fuel used and the municipality in which you live. Since 2008, environmentally friendly vehicles have been subject to tax concessions. If you buy a hybrid car, you may benefit from tax advantages.
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