Starting a company in the Netherlands: tips and info

6 minutes reading time

The Netherlands is an attractive place for many foreign entrepreneurs to establish themselves as a company. The Netherlands offers a favorable tax climate, is relatively cheap in terms of operating costs, and has a highly educated workforce. The Netherlands is also a front-runner when it comes to entering into international tax treaties. Enough reasons to start a company in the Netherlands. Are you also considering starting a business in the Netherlands? We would love to help you. Read what to keep in mind when starting your own business in the Netherlands.

Which permits do I need to work in the Netherlands?

To be able to start a company in the Netherlands, you need to apply for different permits. If you are not from an EU or EEA (European Economic Area) country or Swiss, you will need a provisional residence permit (MVV) and in some cases also work permit (TWV). 

Provisional residence permit (MVV) 
If you are not an EU/EEA or Swiss nationals, and you want to stay in the Netherlands longer than 90 days, you require a provisional residence permit (long-stay visa). This is not an official residence permit, but it allows you to enter the Netherlands as a potential resident. 

Work permit (TWV or GVVA)
If you want to hire an employee from outside the European Economic Area or Switzerland, you need a work permit (TWV) or a combined residence and work permit (GVVA). Since 1 October 2020, family members of foreign self-employed professionals no longer need a work permit.

work permit Netherlands

Startup visa

The Netherlands offers a residence permit, also known as startup visa (officially called; residence permit for start-up entrepreneurs). The permit was introduced in 2015 to attract foreign entrepreneurs. The permit is valid for one year and is tailored to international entrepreneurs who want to start a company in the Netherlands. Citizens of the EU/EEA countries and Swiss nationals are already entitled to live and work in the Netherlands under EU law and do not require a startup visa. 

Business bank account
To start a business, you will also need a business bank account (IBAN). The Dutch Banking Association (Nederlandse Vereniging van Banken) created a Quick Scan to help you find out if you are eligible. With an IBAN account, the national and cross-border euro payments are easy and secure. We advise you to keep your private bank account separate from a business bank account.

What types of business are there in the Netherlands?

When you have ensured that you can reside and work in the Netherlands, the next step is to decide which legal business structure your company will take. The legal structure determines your liability and tax obligations. The most chosen / common business structures in The Netherlands are:

  • Eenmanszaak (sole proprietor)
  • Vennootschap onder Firma (partnership)
  • Besloten Vennootschap (private limited company)

Many people are doubting whether to operate as a sole proprietor (eenmanszaak) or as a private limited company (BV). The main difference is that a sole proprietor qualifies as an entrepreneur for income tax purposes, where the profits are taxed in Box 1. When operating as a private limited company, you are an employee for income tax purposes (salary is taxed in Box 1), and as the holder of a substantial interest (profits and dividends are taxed in Box 2). Most people start as a sole proprietor or partnership (Vennnootschap onder Virma) because of the tax benefits.

Also, there is a big difference in liability between a sole proprietor and a private limited company. For example, when your company would go bankrupt, you are personally liable with a sole proprietor. If you are the owner of a private limited company, you are employing yourself to the company which will give you more certainty. Which structure is better for you depends on how high the profit will be and on the volume you will make. Do you need help choosing the right structure? Our accountants would like to advise you. 

Register with the Dutch Commercial Register

Once you have selected your business structure, you need to choose a company name (trade name). You must register the company name in the Dutch Commercial Register (Handelsregister) at the KVK. When you are registered, the KVK will pass on your details to the Dutch Tax and Customs Administration, also known as; Belastingdienst. If you have a private limited company or public limited company, you have to register via a civil-law notary. Are you doing business in the Netherlands, but is your company itself not permanently established in the Netherlands? Then you may only need to register with the Dutch Tax and Customs Administration. You will not be required to register in the Dutch Commercial Register.

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A few weeks after registration, the Dutch Tax and Customs Administration will send you a letter with all the relevant information. You may also receive a VAT number and a tax return form.

Dutch health insurance

If you come to work in the Netherlands, you need the Dutch health insurance no later than 4 months after arriving. Below, a list of the main Dutch health insurance companies:

  • LoonZorg
  • OHRA
  • FBTO
  • Zilveren Kruis
  • ONVZ

To see which health insurance suits you the best and to company prices, you can visit Independer or Zorgwijzer. 

Being self-employed from abroad

Many people want to settle in the Netherlands from abroad, but there are also plenty of people who want to move back or emigrate to another country. Do you want to work from abroad in the Netherlands? By working as a self-employed professional or freelancer, you can do your work anywhere in the world. All you need is a laptop and a stable internet connection. However, there are several things that you should pay attention to when registering as self-employed professional or freelancer.

Registering a foreign address with the Chamber of Commerce (KVK)
If you are moving to a foreign country, it is important that you pass on your new business address to the Chamber of Commerce. Your company is registered there and is linked to your business or private address. You may register a foreign address with the Chamber of Commerce, but only when your actual activities continue to exist in the Netherlands. Isn't this the case? Then you have to deregister and re-register at the Chamber of Commerce in the country concerned. The Chamber of Commerce checks whether you are active in the Netherlands or not.

Tax as a self-employed person from abroad
In addition, you will have to take into account different tax rates if you are going to work from abroad. If you are established in the Netherlands, you will be taxed in the Netherlands for your work, even if it takes place abroad. Is your business address abroad? Then you have to pay your tax on your income to the country in which you work.

Contact the Chamber of Commerce shortly and discuss your plans with your bookkeeper or accountant.

Find an English-speaking bookkeeper or accountant near you

Do you need help finding a registered accountant in the Netherlands who will assist you with starting your company, and who will do the complete bookkeeping? Just fill out the form below and get in touch with three certified bookkeepers or accountants in your area.

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