Waiting time for driving exam has risen to 20 weeks

Due to a number of complications caused by the Covid pandemic, students looking to get their driver’s license in the Netherlands currently have to wait up to 20 weeks for an appointment with the Central Office for Motor Vehicle Testing (CBR) for their driving tests.

“Because of Covid, many organizations in the Netherlands have long waiting times. Unfortunately, this also applies to the practical examinations of the CBR,” announces the website of the CBR, followed by an estimate of the waiting list’s times. For the period 21-27 March the waiting list is 2-3 weeks for the theoretical exam for driving a car, motorcycle or moped and an average of 17 weeks for the practical exam for driving a car. The website also states that the time periods might change from location to location, and may speed up because of reservations that are cancelled: “Some people may have to wait 14 weeks and others 10 or 18 weeks.”

But as the Covid pandemic has been with us for a few years now, the delays and growing waiting lists are not a new thing to institutions, including the CBR. Already in February 2021, RTL Nieuws announced that, after two lockdowns, 600,000 driving exams had been postponed, seriously affecting the lives of people who are in need of a car to reach their jobs.

Esmee, a 19-year-old student from Hoensbroek, said in the article: “In November I had my last lesson. Then everything closed. I have no idea when the exam can take place. And if it can, I’m afraid I won’t pass because I haven’t driven for a while.” Thus, a package of 35 lessons that included a 2000-euro test could not guarantee her a driving license.

Similar complaints are found all around the internet and social media: “I had my theory test scheduled for December 2020 in Amsterdam, then it was rescheduled to the beginning of February, and now it has been rescheduled again to June – the  first available date. Depending where you are it can be tough to get the exams for the summer, I guess. The earlier you sign up, the better,” commented a Reddit user about a year ago.

“We have been doing exams in the evenings and weekends since last year,” said CBR managing director Jan Jorgen Huizing, according to newspaper Het Parool, which also cited possible emergency measures such as increasing the examination age to 18 years old and stopping interim and pass tests, which would result in a decrease of 170,000 tests taken annually.

According to Het Parool, the biggest issue for the CBR in recent weeks is the lack of examiners, especially since the recent rise of the Omicron variant has resulted in around 12% of the 603 examiners to be at home at any one time because of the virus. As to the lack of examiners, the website IamExpat quoted Pechtold: “Recruitment is extremely difficult: of the 8.087 candidates who have applied for a job since March 2021, only 108 have been hired by us for examiner training.”

Pechtold states that there are two possible ways out: either accepting that the waiting time will be high for months or deciding to do something about it. Nevertheless, the CBR has no intentions of enforcing any measure by itself: “But it’s with the driving schools and the Tweede Kamer that solutions should be found. We cannot decide anything on our own.”

Written by Mariana Mendoza González