Dutch Language Blog

Honking in the Netherlands? I Don’t Think So Posted by on Jul 10, 2019 in Culture, News

Those of us who have lived in a big city know very well that one annoying sound – honking! The disproven theory is that if you honk, traffic will magically move! However, in the Netherlands, honking is rare. What are the reasons behind the lovely silence that envelopes everyone while driving?

Photo taken by Molly Germaine found on Flickr.com with license CC BY 2.0


There are two words to keep in mind when talking about honking: claxonneren and toeteren. Van Dale defines them as follows:

claxonneren- met de claxon toeteren (claxonneerde, heeft geclaxonneerd)

toeteren- op een toeter/claxon blazen, claxonneren (toeterde, heeft getoeterd)

So when can you honk? According to the verkeersregels or traffic rules:

Bestuurders mogen slechts geluidssignalen en knippersignalen geven ter afwending van dreigend gevaar (artikel 28)

In other words, you can only honk when there is a need to avoid danger. One of the most clear examples I remember from getting my rijbewijs or driver’s license in the Netherlands is the photo of a narrow tunnel and you cannot see the incoming traffic. In this situation, according to my study material, you should toet or honk before you pass to let another car (if any) know you were coming. If you toet without a need to avert danger, you can get a fine of €95.

The following video explains in more detail the toeteren rules.

Different types of toeters

While the rule is that you should only honk to avert danger, some people still honk running the risk of a fine. Below are some example of actual honking cases.


Last month, several drivers received fines because of unnecessary toeteren in Utrecht. The honking was in honor of a recently married couple and the guests were driving around Utrecht (I would assume to the reception) honking the horn. According to an eyewitness interviewed by Metro Nieuws:

“Ik zag diverse politieauto’s, motoren en een busje rondrijden. Tussen de Gamma en de Karwei zeg maar. In de lucht hing een heli. Ik heb van één bestuurder gezien dat hij werd bekeurd. Dat gebeurde ter hoogte van de Karwei.”

Police in Utrecht took the mater very seriously and gave out fines. As of this year, Den Haag is also quite strict on honking after receiving complaints from locals who live near a very popular wedding venue. You can read more about the Den Haag case in this article from NOS.


Another honking incident occurred just yesterday. The Rotterdam police shared a message on Facebook where they state that a driver received a verbal warning because he toeterde right when a woman with a short skirt was walking by. According to police, this particular incident is considered straatintimidatie or intimidation in the public road. On their Facebook message, the police goes on to say:

Natuurlijk is het toeteren naar vrouwen vaak al iets dat als zeer vervelend wordt ervaren. Maar het gaat verder. Sissen, naroepen, uitschelden, achternalopen en zelfs ongevraagd aanraken. Ook in Capelle en Rotterdam is dit in de APV strafbaar gesteld. Op overtredingen staan boetes van maximaal 4100 euro of een celstraf van maximaal drie maanden.

Kortom, niet slim, niet sjiek en al helemaal geen manier om ‘te scoren’.

In this particular case, honking wasn’t only an issue of noise, but rather intimidation.

Toeteren naar jouw vrouw

A few years ago, a man from Antwerp in Belgium was given a fine for honking to his wife. She was on the other side of the road and he wanted to greet her so he honked and waved. He received a €50 fine for that. He was quite upset about the fine so he decided to take matters to his own hands…well mouth actually!


When a football/soccer team wins, honking can also get out of hand. This goes for league championships as well as international games. The video below was taken when the team KRC Genk in Belgium became landskampioen. Everyone took to the streets to honk and show their support as soon as the game ended. I do not know if the drivers received a fine, but I am going to venture and say they didn’t because everyone was out celebrating!

What are the rules or laws related to honking where you come from? Do you think they should be as strict as they are in the Netherlands and Belgium?

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About the Author: Karoly Molina

Since I was a little girl, I was fascinated with languages and writing. I speak English, Spanish, Italian, Dutch and a little bit of French. I am a writer, reader, language teacher, traveler, and a food lover! I now live in The Netherlands with my husband Riccardo, our cat Mona, and our dog Lisa, and the experience has been phenomenal. The Dutch culture is an exciting sometimes topsy-turvy world that I am happily exploring!


  1. Michael DE Brown:

    I come from Canada. If young man wanted to end a relationship with a girl he liked, just roll up to the house and honk the horn to tell her he has arrived. If her parents heard the honk, they would dismiss the young man as impolite, lazy and discourteous for not having the manners to come to the door to meet them and receive their daughter.

    In Aruba, some service personnel will arrive in front of a house in their trucks or vans and honk to inform the occupants that they have arrived. The more polite service people will use their cell phones to inform you that they have arrived.