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Rotterdam - Driving & Public Transport

Expatriates who intend to drive in The Netherlands and will be living in The Netherlands for 12 months or more must possess a valid Dutch driving license issued by the Commissie Verkeer (Transport Commission). An international driving license is only valid for 12 months. The Dutch law stipulates that all driving licenses must be renewed once every 10 years. This rule applies even for EU citizens. If you intend to bring your own private car into Rotterdam, you will need to apply to the Rotterdam Customs (Douane) and pay import duties. The Rotterdam Customs is located at Laan op Zuid 45. Call +31(0)10 290 4790 for more information.

All children traveling in cars must be seated in age-appropriate car seats. Children up to age 12 (shorter than 1.35 meters or lighter than 35 kgs) are not permitted to sit in the front seat of the car. In general, you should pay close attention to the speed limits and restrictions, especially when driving in a built-up or residential area. There are heavy penalties. Speed limits can be 30km/hr in a residential / school area, but it is usually 50km/hr in built-up areas. On the expressways, look out for this sign – 'trajectcontrole'. This usually marks a zone where your actual travel time is calculated. Fines are imposed if your actual travel time exceeds that of the average travel time.

When parking in Rotterdam city, be mindful that there are stiff penalties for flouting parking rules – look out for the car park inspectors! Parking meters operate by pre-paid cards – no coin-operated machines are available. Pre-paid chipknips (parking cards) are available at tabacs and other shops. You can also pay for your parking via credit card or cash at many parking / ticket machines in multi-storey car parks in Rotterdam city. There is a park and ride scheme (P+R-terreinen) – park your car in these designated car parks for free, and travel conveniently into Rotterdam city. For updated information on the designated car parks for P+R, or the latest car park tariffs, visit the Rotterdam municipal website at The website is in Dutch but look for the label 'Parkeren in Rotterdam' – there is a useful map indicating the designated car parks for P+R.

Public Transport ('Openbaar Vervoer') refers to the bus, tram, metro, rail and fast ferry services in Rotterdam. In Rotterdam, public transport is operated by the RET company. RET operates a wide network of public transport services - 34 bus lines, 8 tram lines, 2 metro lines and one rail line (Erasmus Randstad) in and around Rotterdam. Since 2008, RET also operates a fast ferry service to a number of destinations on the Massvlakte.

There are several ticket schemes available for users of public transport (train, bus, tram and metro) in Rotterdam. The OV-chipkaart (or 'chipknip') is a pre-pay / credit system that is gradually replacing the Strippenkaart system. As of January 2009, the Strippenkaart will no longer be used in Rotterdam, and the use of the Strippenkaart is gradually being phased out in other cities in the Netherlands as well. It is a convenient credit-card size and is the best payment method for use of public transport in Rotterdam and The Netherlands. For expatriates who will be commuting frequently, the personalized OV-chipkaart is a good option as it comes with season tickets and auto-reload (top-up) services. The personalized OV-chipkaart offers more security as it comes with a digitalized photo of the user. If you are an occasional public transport user, you may wish to consider an anonymous OV-chipkaart as these cards are transferrable. RET offers monthly discounts for anonymous OV-chipkaarts. OV-chipkaarts can be purchased online at or at one of the RET shops.

For more information about their schedules and network, you can visit their RET service shop. The RET service shop is located at Coolsingel 141 (open daily – on Monday-Wednesday and Friday, 9am to 630pm; on Thursday, 9am to 9pm; on Saturday, 9am to 5pm; and on Sunday, 12noon to 5pm.) There are also five Sale and Information kiosks located at certain metro stations – (1) Central station or Stationsplein, (2) Beurs / Churchchillplein, (3) Zuidplein, (4) Spijkenisse Centrum, (5) Capelsburg. Click here for the operating hours of the kiosks. For general information about traveling with the OV-chipkaart, contact the RET Helpdesk at 0900-5006010 (0,10 euro p/min charge). For malfunctions or replacement for the OV-chipkaart, contact RET customer service line at 0900 - 0980 (0,10 euro p/min charge). For comments, suggestions and complaints, call their toll-free line at 0800-6061. More information is available in English at their website at

For a journey planner available in English, try They also offer travel advice over the telephone at 0900-9292 (at 0,70 euro p/min).

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