If you want to set a business in the Netherlands, there are various government and other rules to follow.
This checklist below would serve as a guideline and will help you find out how to go about starting a company.
1- Check whether you fulfill the conditions for staying in the Netherlands
Entrepreneurs who are planning to stay in the Netherlands must fulfill a number of conditions (see Coming to the Netherlands).
If you plan to start doing business in the Netherlands, you will also need to have or apply for a business bank account (IBAN). You can use this quick Scan to help you find out if you are eligible. Read how it works.
2. Write a business plan
Although it is not mandatory to write a business plan when setting up your own business, it helps.
In a business plan, you need to think about several things including:
- The company formation
- The legal business structure you want to choose
- Your product or service
- Your clients
- Financing (you can find out more in this webinar ‘Financing your business in the Netherlands’).
3. Different starting points
Whether you will be starting your company as an innovative startup, from an unemployment benefit, a job, or as a student or minor, you need to understand what specific conditions apply to your situation.
- Bringing your company to the Netherlands
- Starting as an innovative startup
- Starting while holding down a job
- Starting while on unemployment benefit
- Starting from an incapacity benefit
- Starting a business as a minor
- Starting as a student entrepreneur
4. Select a legal business structure
As an owner of a new company, you must first select a legal business structure (e.g. sole proprietor or a private limited company). The legal structure determines such issues as liability and tax obligations.
The Five main types of legal entities that you can set up in the Netherlands are:
- Solo trader (individual Business Owner)
- General Partnership (VoF)
- Limited Partnership (CV)
- Professional Partnership
- Private Limited Company (BV)
- Public Limited Company (NV)
- Branch office
5. Select a trade name for your company
You must choose a trade name (company name), in order to be able to register your company in the Commercial Register.
6. Register with the Dutch Commercial Register and Dutch Tax Administration
As a new business, you must register with the Dutch Commercial Register at the Netherlands Chamber of Commerce (KVK). The KVK will pass on your details to the Dutch Tax and Customs Administration, who will issue you with a VAT identification number. You will receive these numbers from the Tax and Customs Administration by post.
If your company is not permanently established in the Netherlands, where you do business, you may only need to register with the Dutch Tax and Customs Administration.
7. Register as an employer for payroll taxes and social security
If you are planning to hire staff, you will first need to register as an employer with the Dutch Tax and Customs Administration.
8. Check whether you need professional qualifications
Although you do not usually need a separate qualification to set up a business in the Netherlands, certain professions do require professional qualifications.
9. Consult the zoning plan for your business location
If you plan to establish your business at a particular location, your choice of location must be in line with the municipal zoning plan. If not, you can apply for an All-in-one Permit for Physical Aspects (Omgevingsvergunning). There is also the option of asking the municipality to change the zoning plan.
10. Be aware of the environmental regulations
If your business operations will have an impact on the environment, you will need to submit a notification of environmental management to your local municipality. In some case you would also need to apply for an All-in-one Permit for Physical Aspects (Omgevingsvergunning).
11. Take fire safety measures for your business premises
If your business is located in a building or other property, you have to take measures to ensure fire safety. You will need to submit a notification of occupancy to your local municipality and in case your business runs a higher fire risk, you must also apply for an All-in-one Permit for Physical Aspects (Omgevingsvergunning).
12. Report a home business
In case you are considering running a business from your home, you are normally obliged to report this plan to your local municipality. (keep in mind various tax and mortgage issues).
13. Apply for an All-in-one Permit for Physical Aspects for building activities
In case you want to build, make alterations to or renovate your business premises, you will normally need an All-in-one Permit for Physical Aspects (Omgevingsvergunning). This permit can be obtained from your local municipality.
14. Describe your business’s general terms and conditions
General terms and conditions clarify your and your customers’ rights and duties. It is prefered to make your customers aware of your general terms and conditions.
15. Create your business accounts
In the Netherlands, you are legally obliged to maintain accounts and to retain them for seven years. So, as you will be incurring expenses often before the official launch of your business, make sure to create your business accounts as soon as possible.
16. Check whether you need insurance
You need to take out health insurance, in case you live in the Netherlands or earn income here.
You are also obliged to pay Dutch national insurance contributions. You also need to ensure your business’s assets in the event of legal liability or any other risk you won’t be able to cover.
17. Personal data processing
The processing and storage of personal data is regulated by the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) (Algemene Verordening Gegevensbescherming, AVG).
When starting your business, you will find several government organizations that will support you by providing information or services:
- The Netherlands Chamber of Commerce (KVK): information on creating a business plan and carrying out market research
- The Holland Trade and Invest website: information about the investment climate in the Netherlands, the sectors that offer the most opportunities and the possibilities of finding local business partners
- The Dutch Tax and Customs Administration: information about which taxes and special schemes.
- The Qredits Microfinanciering Nederland‘s business coaches: advice and assistance in writing your business plan.
- Statistics Netherlands (Centraal Bureau voor de Statistiek, CBS): statistical information about districts where you can establish your business. CBS has collected sector-specific information that could be interesting for you as an entrepreneur.