If you want to move to the Netherlands from outside the EU/EEA or Switzerland, and work here as an entrepreneur, self-employed professional (zzp-er) or freelancer, you will need to prove that you serve an essential interest to the Dutch economy. You need a provisional residence permit as well as a residence permit, and you will need to score enough points in the scoring system.
For whom is this information?
This information only applies if you are from outside the EU, EEA or Switzerland. If you are from inside the EU, EEA or Switzerland, you are free to travel to the Netherlands and work there and will only need to register with your municipality / town council for a citizen service number (BSN-number) if you plan on staying for more than 4 months; or to register as a non-resident, if you are not staying.
Conditions: general and specific
Every non-EU/EEA/Swiss citizen who wants to come and live and work in the Netherlands has to meet a number of conditions. You have to send in (or hand in) the documents proving you fulfill all these conditions when you start your residence permit application. The general conditions, that apply to everyone, are:
- You need to have a valid passport or other travel document
- You need to sign an antecedents statement
- You need to take a TB test (exemptions do exist)
- You have to score enough (90 or more) points in the scoring system. To live and work in the Netherlands as a self-employed professional, freelancer or entrepreneur, you need to be able to prove that your activities will serve an essential interest for the Dutch economy, and that your product or service is innovative. To do this, you must score enough points in a points-based scoring system that is executed by the Netherlands Enterprise Agency (RVO). The scoring system scores you on several categories, such as personal (entrepreneurial) experience, business plan, knowledge of the Dutch culture and language, and added value for the Dutch economy. If you score 90 points or over, the Netherlands Enterprise Agency will give a favourable assessment of your application. The Immigration and Naturalisation Service (IND) receives this assessment and uses it to decide if they will approve your entry and residence application as a self-employed professional or entrepreneur. Acknowledged innovative startups, in possession of a startup visa and supervised by a facilitator, automatically receive 90 points. They need to submit a written declaration in accordance with the model drawn up by the Netherlands Enterprise Agency. See the IND website for more information. If you are a Turkish citizen, or have a long-term resident EC-status in another EU-country, you don’t have to fulfill the scoring system condition.
- You are registered in the Commercial Register of the Chamber of Commerce (KVK).
- You meet the requirements for practicing your business or profession. This means that you have all the necessary licences.
- You are going to earn sufficient income from your activities as an independent entrepreneur. This should be evident from the business plan.
How to apply for your residence permit
Your residence permit application is really for two permits at the same time: a provisional residence permit (mvv) and a residence permit. You need the mvv to travel to the Netherlands. The mvv is a sticker that the Dutch representation places in the passport. In some cases, you do not need an mvv. A residence permit is a document you need if you wish to stay in the Netherlands for more than 90 days. You will need to start the application process for a residence permit while you are still in your country of residence. If you want to apply for a provisional residence permit, you can apply to the Dutch representation in your own country or the country of continuous residence. The Dutch representation forwards your application to the IND. After coming to the Netherlands, you will receive a notification you can collect your residence permit at one of the IND offices.
When you are in possession of a residence permit as a self-employed professional or entrepreneur, you are allowed to work in the Netherlands, either on assignment as a freelancer, or in your own business. You will not need a separate work permit. In all other cases, a work permit is required. Your residence permit will be stamped with the addition: this person is allowed to work in the Netherlands. See Work permit for self-employed professionals.
Self-employed or employee?
To be deemed self-employed when acting as director or a major shareholder of a company, you must prove you have at least 25 percent interest in the company, be liable for risks and be able to influence the level of your income. If this is not the case, your relationship with the company will be considered an employeeship and you will be required to obtain a work permit for employees.
Special residence permits
The Dutch government offers a number of special schemes for non-EU/EEA/Swiss citizens who want to live and work in the Netherlands:
- If you have finished your education in the Netherlands or outside the Netherlands, you may be applicable for a residence permit for an orientation year. During this year, you can find employment or start as a self-employed person.
- If your business qualifies as an innovative startup, you can apply for a residence permit for startups.
- If you are a highly skilled migrant and want to come and work for an employer in the Netherlands, your employer can apply for a residence permit for highly skilled migrants on your behalf.