By Ms. Jessica Marie Ryan (IMCOM Europe)April 23, 2018
CHIÈVRES, Belgium -- This article is a part of series explaining how U.S. personnel get the right licenses to drive in the Benelux. Please see the links section for the process of getting a driver's license in Belgium and Germany (Dülmen personnel).
Arriving to a new country means getting the proper identification cards. One of the necessary ID cards is, of course, a driver's license. One must carry a valid European driver's license when driving in the Netherlands and other European countries, and getting one is a multi-step process for U.S. personnel.
U.S. personnel in the Netherlands should get a driver's permit in Schinnen and a NATO driver's license to drive in the European Union. The Driver's Testing Station, located on Schinnen Bldg. 4, staff helps personnel stationed in the Netherlands, including those at Joint Force Command Brunssum and Eygelshoven and all other places in the Netherlands, with the process of getting those licenses.
GETTING THE USAG BENELUX IN SCHINNEN DRIVER'S PERMIT AND NATO DRIVER'S LICENSE (ALL U.S. PERSONNEL AGE 18 AND OVER)
The first step is getting the U.S. Army Garrison Benelux in Schinnen driver's permit from the Driver's Testing Station in Schinnen. All U.S. personnel age 18 and over, who already possess a valid U.S. driver's license or driver's license from another country, are eligible to drive in the Netherlands after completing of the training.
After arriving to the country, incoming personnel must report to Schinnen Bldg. 4 to sign up for a mandatory driving class and receive study materials. Applicants must bring their U.S. ID card, AFNORTH ID Card, a valid U.S. license or another license such as an U.S. Army Europe, or USAREUR, driver's license, and a copy of assignment orders. They will fill out an application for the U.S. Forces POV Certificate of License. They will also have their picture taken and electronically sign documentation. Afterwards, U.S. personnel will then receive a study manual.
"Manuals are issued for a period of one month which may be extended upon request," said Danny Janssen, the drivers testing and motor pool manager at Schinnen.
U.S. personnel will attend the four-hour mandatory class, typically held on Wednesdays starting at 8 a.m., to learn about driving rules in Europe. Attendees must pass both the Dutch I European Law test and Dutch I European Road Signs test. They will then receive the USAG Benelux in Schinnen driver's permit, which issued at the driver's testing station.
After receiving the permit, personnel must go to JFC Brunssum Bldg. H-102 to get a NATO driver's license. According to Janssen, personnel must present their Schinnen driver's permit to get the NATO driver's license. No additional testing is required. The NATO driver's license is only valid for three years, and people can drive in countries in NATO and the European Union, according to Janssen. If an individual's tour extends beyond three years, they must renew the license.
Drivers are expected to keep their U.S. driver's license and NATO driver's license with them at all times. Since both licenses are in English, drivers may face translation issues if they are stopped by authorities or police in other countries. To avoid these problems, U.S. personnel have two options -- get an international driver's license or an official Dutch driver's license.
OPTION 1: GETTING AN INTERNATIONAL DRIVING LICENSE FROM THE ANWB
People may obtain an international driving license in the Netherlands with the assistance of the driver's testing station personnel. People must go to the Algemene Nederlandse Wielrijdersbond, or ANWB, office in Heerlen or Helmond to retrieve the international driver's license. Also known as the Royal Dutch Touring Club, ANWB is the travelers' association in the Netherlands.
This license is meant for people who want to drive a vehicle in other countries during a temporary visit. There are two types of licenses issued: a "white" international driving license which is valid in 21 countries and a "gray" international driving license which is a valid in 106 countries. The license, which is a small booklet, is a translation of a person's license in different languages.
It's important to know that this license is only valid for one year. If people decide to get this license, they must present their valid U.S. driver's license, USAG Benelux in Schinnen driver's permit or NATO driver's license, one European Union passport picture (3.5 centimeters by 4.5 centimeters), and the application fee of €18.95 for non-ANWB members (price is subject to change) to the ANWB office. More information is located at the official ANWB website: www.anwb.nl (use Google Translate for information in English).
OPTION 2: GETTING AN OFFICIAL DUTCH DRIVER'S LICENSE
According to Janssen, U.S. personnel age 18 and over, are strongly advised to get an official Dutch driver's license in addition to the Schinnen driver's permit and NATO driver's license if they plan to drive in Europe throughout their tour. The Dutch driver's license is valid for life, but it must be renewed every 10 years.
The following documents are required for a Dutch driver's license: A U.S. ID card, valid U.S. driver's license and the Schinnen driver's permit. In addition, applicants must provide two EU passport photos and a medical statement, or Eigen Verklaring in Dutch, and pre-stamped envelope. The medical statement form must be obtained at the city hall in the town where the person is living for a fee.
Janssen helps U.S. personnel with the process by completing the necessary forms for the Dutch government, such as the Form 3 E 0395a for a Dutch driver's license and a certificate of station. He advised that people go to the driver's testing station with the required documents. He will review the application and mail it to the Dutch government.
After the application is approved, the Dutch driver's license will be sent to the driver's testing station in Schinnen. The station staff members will notify applicants when the driver's license is available for pick-up. The entire process typically takes about two to three weeks.
While the process may seem time-consuming and complicated, the station staff members will assist U.S. personnel with completing the forms and answering questions. It is important to know that the driver's testing station staff members in Schinnen are the only authorized personnel in the Netherlands to do this process for U.S. government employees. People cannot complete this process on their own.
MAINTAINING STATESIDE DRIVER'S LICENSES
While living abroad, U.S. personnel must have a valid U.S. driver's license. If the license expires during their tour, people should renew it before the expiration date. Each state has different rules and requirements on license renewal for U.S. citizens living abroad. People should check their state's official vehicle department, such as the Department of Motor Vehicles, for more information on the application process.
For more information about the driver's license process in the Netherlands, call the Driver's Testing Station (Schinnen Bldg. 4) at DSN 360-7433 or +31(0)46-4437433.