What are the Dutch regulations for using vehicle lighting?


Cars and delivery vans

In Table 3, the regulations for the use of different lighting for cars and delivery vans are presented [28].



Dipped headlights      

Front dipped headlights are obligatory in the dark. During poor visibility front headlights may also be dipped in the daytime.

Main lights  


Main lights may only be used in the absence of other traffic nearby.


Fog lights may only be used when fog, snowfall or rain seriously reduces visibility. Rear fog lights may only be used when visibility is less than 50 m.

Daytime running lights

Daytime running lights are lights that may be used in the daytime. Since 2011, all new car types to be marketed must have daytime running lights.

Rear lights

Rear lights must always be used in combination with dipped headlights, main lights, parking lights or fog lights.

Combination of parking lights and rear lights

In the case of a stop in rural areas in parking or emergency lanes, or in lay-bies, both parking lights and rear lights must be used in the dark or when visibility is poor.

Table 3: Regulations concerning vehicle lighting of cars and vans.

In 2008, the European Commission issued ‘directive 2008/89/EG’ which made daytime running light (DRLs) compulsory for new cars, from 2011 onwards. This implies that when starting a car, the daytime lights are automatically switched on. In a number of countries, using daytime lighting is compulsory. In the Netherlands, using daytime lights is not compulsory, but does result in fewer daytime accidents (also see the questions What is the road safety effect of using vehicle lighting in the daytime? en What are the possible disadvantages of vehicle lighting in the daytime?).

Freight traffic

Apart from the usual vehicle lighting requirements of cars, freight vehicles[i] must meet the following additional requirements:

  • Two marking lights, both front and rear;
  • Side marking lights;
  • Side and rear line marking;
  • two red rear reflectors;
  • amber side reflectors.

Motorcycles, mopeds and three-wheel vehicles

Requirements for motorcycles are the same as for cars. In addition, motorcycles must have a red rear reflector [29]. In darkness and poor visibility, mopeds, light mopeds, electric scooters, motorized bicycles or speed pedelecs need to use yellow or white front lights (dipped lights) and red rear lights . In addition, these vehicles need to be equipped with a number of reflectors: red rear reflectors, amber pedal reflectors and amber side reflectors[30].

From 1 January 2016, all newly registered L-category vehicles (two- and three-wheel motor vehicles) need to be fitted with Automatic Headlights On (AHO, see index of road safety measures SWOV). This implies that, for all motor cycles, speed pedelecs, mopeds and light mopeds, the headlights automatically switch on when starting the motor.


In darkness or poor visibility, cyclists need to use white or yellow headlights and red rear lights. These lights must shine straight ahead or backwards respectively and must not flash. They can be detachable lamps that are attached to the bicycle or the cyclist, provided they are clearly visible. In addition, bicycles need to be fitted with reflectors: a red rear reflector, yellow pedal reflectors and white or yellow rim or tyre reflectors [31]. There are no requirement for the quality of bicycle lights. Education campaigns about bicycle lights are particularly focused on using lights rather than using adequate lights, in spite of the often poor quality of biclycle lights [32]. Therefore, In 2017, RAI (Bicycle and Car Industry Association) introduced a bicycle lighting hallmark to familiarize cyclists with the best options when buying bicycle lights (see www.keurmerkfietsverlichting.nl). This hallmark is familiar to most bicycle shop employees, but is hardly ever inquired after by their customers [33]. There is no information about how many different bicycle lights have earned the hallmark.

[i] These requirements are dependent on the width and length of the vehicle. More information is to be found on the RDW website.

Part of fact sheet

Public lighting and vehicle lighting

Visual information is of the utmost importance to road users.

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