The Dutch culture and business climate

This information is provided by

Netherlands Chamber of Commerce, KVK

The Netherlands is an excellent starting point for starting your business. It has an international focus, a great physical and digital infrastructure and the majority of the people speak English. the Netherlands has an attractive business climate for you to start and expand your business to the rest of Europe. If you want to come to the Netherlands and start a business here, make sure you are well prepared. Read this guide to learn more about the Dutch culture and business climate.

Why start a business in the Netherlands?

A growing number of foreign businesses decide to set up a business in the Netherlands, among which several multinationals. There are plenty of reasons for this: the advanced IT-infrastructure and logistics, the supportive corporate tax structure and the strategic location, which makes it ideally situated for businesses that want to expand their activities across Europe.

On top of that, the Dutch government invests in nine so-called key sectors, focus areas for business such as High Tech, Life Sciences and Health, Agriculture and Food, and Chemical Industry. If your company is active in one of these sectors, the Netherlands could be the place for you.

If your foreign company is considering moving to the Netherlands, the Netherlands Foreign Investment Agency (NFIA) can help you in many ways.

Starting businesses can profit from the special focus on sustainability and innovation. The Dutch startup visa makes it easier for innovative foreign entrepreneurs to start a business in the Netherlands. There are also several mentoring and coaching organisations and programmes that provide guidance, advice or funding to startups. Some of these operate nationally, like, some act regionally. Furthermore, we have the 30% ruling in the Netherlands. This is a tax advantage for highly skilled migrants who are entitled to a reduction of income tax and can receive up to 30% of their income tax-free.

Set up a business with the Orange Carpet startup package

The Dutch government has created a startup package with incentives for international startups: a Dutch startup visa, an 'Orange Carpet' programme, including organisations that can assist startups in setting up their business in the Netherlands, and a wide range of incubator and accelerator programmes. Find out how you can set up your business with the Orange Carpet startup package.

The Dutch culture

The Netherlands is a highly populated country with a diversity of nationalities. The quality of living is high and most inhabitants are well-educated. Tolerance is very important in the Netherlands, especially when it comes to freedom of speech. The Dutch can be quite opinionated and direct. This could come across as rude to some foreigners. However, it is best to not take it personally. Overall, the Dutch are considered to be open-minded, flexible and inclusive.

Incoming visitors’ programmes

The Incoming Visitors’ Programmes are an initiative from the Dutch embassies to welcome visitors to the Netherlands. The programmes are intended to exchange knowledge and facilitate network opportunities and cover different themes, including human rights, logistics and agriculture. Only ‘influentials’, ‘high potentials’ and journalists are eligible for participation in one of the programmes. Find out if you are eligible.

The Dutch business climate

The Dutch business climate is progressive. Reliability and honesty are both highly valued in the workplace. For example, being late at an appointment is considered unacceptable. The Dutch like to get things done, thus structure and planning is often an important element within the business strategy. You will notice that hierarchy is only subtly present in most workplaces and Dutch employees are often expected to work independently.


The communication between colleagues is often informal. Men and women are treated equally. When it comes to introducing yourself to others, the most common way of greeting is a handshake. It is also considered normal to knock on the door before entering an occupied space. Lastly, depending on your job title and the occasion, dress codes usually range from business casual to formal.

More information

Learn more about the Dutch culture and business climate by watching our webinar. Together with a foreign entrepreneur and a startup expert, we discuss which cultural matters are important to take into account when doing business in the Netherlands. You can also visit our page about Dutch life and personal matters for basic information about living in the Netherlands.

For more support, you can contact the Netherlands Foreign Investment Agency (NFIA).

Questions relating to this article?

Please contact the Netherlands Chamber of Commerce, KVK

This information is provided by

Netherlands Chamber of Commerce, KVK