Within 180 days of becoming resident in the Netherlands, I was required to supplement my Residency card with a baby-girl pink Dutch driver’s license if I wanted to operate a car. The process is painless: just fill in a form and visit City Hall. There wasn’t a written examination or a road test, not even a fee.
Easy, but not without surprises. I didn’t expect to have to surrender my Washington state driver’s license in exchange for the Dutch one.
What will you do with my license? “We’ll send it back.”
Back where? “Back where you got it.”
And what about when I go back to the US? “We will get it back and return it to you.”
It made little sense but I’m the guest, so I handed over my US license. And, on my next trip to Seattle, I cleverly reported my license as lost and got a replacement. Problem solved.
Until I needed to get some Sudafed for the kids.
Cold medications contain chemicals that are used to make methamphatamine, so you have to ask a pharmacist for the product. They, in turn, have to query a state database, which requires a driver’s license.
She squinted at my baby-girl pink card and asked what state it was from. The Netherlands?
She looked at the computer screen and asked for a two-letter code. NL?
She typed that in as the State, and the computer coughed. “Sorry, you can’t have Sudafed.”
I cursed Dutch efficiency in actually sending the license back to someone who cared enough to take me out of the state database. That meant that my replacement was now invalid as well. Check and mate.
The loss of my US license has caused other problems. Airport security is not amused by passengers bearing a Dutch ID, and I’ve been pulled out of line to dig out alternative ID. I had to reapply to keep access as a state voter, and am now correctly classed as an expatriate with ballots coming to my Dutch address. And it’s helped to have a black-and-white copy of my US driver’s license to show as backup to my Dutch one.
Finally, although I had an International Driver’s License, nobody ever cared or asked for it, and I have let it lapse without issue.