ENTREPRENEURSHIP / JUL. 26, 2014
version 4, draft 4

How to Start a Business in the Netherlands

There are many reasons why starting a business in the Netherlands would be a good idea. Country’s open economic system is flourishing and legalities are rather unequivocal. This, together with a refined financial model and a leading role in business globally, bring Holland to the list of the best countries to relocate to. It’s a center for foreign investment, and it is well-known for thriving in many industries, including science, technology, renewable energy, water management, and architecture. It also provides businesses with a welcoming environment, innovation, efficient export, and various research opportunities. What is more, setting up a business in the Netherlands is quite straightforward. Bellow you fill find most important steps that you will need to undertake in order to set up a business in the country.

Ensure that you fulfill conditions to live in the Netherlands

If you would like to become an entrepreneur in the Netherlands, you must first check if you fulfill all necessary requirements for being permitted to stay in the country.

If you come from outside of EU or from Switzerland, you must:

  • Apply for a residence permit
    • Otherwise, you will be allowed to stay only for 3 months
  • Obtain a provisional residence permit (MVV)
    • It will allow you to stay in the country until your final residence permit is issued
    • Apply for both of these via this link
  • Register in the local municipality
    • Within 5 days after your arrival

For more information on additional requirements that may apply for your particular situation, look here.  

Choose among legal forms

When setting up a business in the Netherlands, you must select a legal form that will specify in which way you will run your business. It will also determine such aspects as tax obligations and liability. Most common types of legal forms are:

  • Sole-trader
  • Limited partnership
  • Partnership under common firm
  • Partnership
  • Private limited company
  • Public limited company
  • Foundation
  • Association

To find out more about these legal forms, read the brochure “Starting your own business”.

Choose company name

To pick a trade name, you must:

  • Think of something unique that isn’t already used within your sector
  • Submit your trade name when registering with the Chamber of Commerce

If you want to use your trade name as a trademark, you must:

Check if you need professional requirements and diplomas

If your profession belongs to the so-called regulated professions, which you are allowed to practice only if you have obtained a certain diploma, then the validity of your diploma must be checked. This process is done by Nuffic. The list of regulated professions can be found here.

In addition to regulated professions, other professions may also be subject to professional competence requirements. These include:

  • Personnel in the childcare and healthcare sectors
  • Hotel security guards
  • Private security guards and investigators
  • Driving instructors
  • Architects
  • Bus drivers
  • Financial service providers
  • The crew of a seagoing vessel 

Check environmental requirements

As for environmental regulations, your business will be classified within one of three categories:

  • Category A: No negligible impact on the environment
  • Category B: Substantial impact on the environment
  • Category C: Extensive environmental impact

In cases your business is classified within the category B or C, you will need an All-in-one Permit for Physical Aspects.

Create a business account

If you are an entrepreneur in the Netherlands, you must keep accounts and retain them for 7 years. They are a basis for your tax returns. Some compulsory documents are:

  • Cash register accounts
  • Receipts
  • Bank statements
  • Contracts
  • Business correspondence
  • Invoices (paid and issued)

Check whether you need insurance

It is important that you take health care insurance and, if you want, a business insurance. To read more about different insurance types and the rules that apply for them, follow this link.

In conclusion, starting business in the Netherlands is everything but complex. Completing all necessary paperwork is rather straightforward even in the case you don’t speak Dutch. Depending on the legal form you select, you can be up and running within few days.

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