Residence permit for foreign startups

Published by:
Immigration and Naturalisation Service, IND
Immigration and Naturalisation Service, IND
Netherlands Enterprise Agency RVO
Netherlands Enterprise Agency RVO
6 min read

The Dutch residence permit for startups is for people from outside the European Union (EU), who are looking to start an innovative business in the Netherlands. The residence permit is valid for a maximum of 1 year. During this time, you must produce or introduce an innovative new product or service under the guidance of an experienced facilitator.

What is the Dutch ‘startup visa’?

The residence permit for startups allows ambitious entrepreneurs from outside the EU, EEA, or Switzerland to apply for a temporary residence permit for the Netherlands. It gives entrepreneurs 1 year to launch their innovative business. It is mandatory to receive guidance from an experienced facilitator. This support helps you to grow from a startup into an operating business. It is a win-win situation for the entrepreneur and Dutch society at large: you have a successful business, and the Dutch economy benefits.

How do you apply?

You or your facilitator in the Netherlands can apply for the residence permit for startups. This is done via the Immigration and Naturalisation Service (Immigratie- en Naturalisatiedienst, IND). Your facilitator can apply online. If you apply yourself, you must submit the application form by post. Doing so involves providing information about yourself. As well as your step-by-step plan, which explains how you plan to go from your idea to a company. This is assessed by the Netherlands Enterprise Agency (RVO).

Startup entrepreneurs still living abroad can submit their application for a residence permit to the Dutch embassy or consulate in the country where they are living. This may or may not involve also applying for a provisional residence permit (mvv). Check IND's information for foreign startups. When you enter your nationality, you will see if you need to apply for a provisional residence permit.

There is an mvv exception for startup entrepreneurs from Australia, Canada, Japan, Monaco, New Zealand, Vatican City, the United Kingdom, the United States, South Korea, and Switzerland. These entrepreneurs can apply directly to the IND using the application form on the website.

Foreign nationals who have a valid residence permit and who wish to change their residence permit to a residence permit for startup entrepreneurs can also use that application form.


You must pay the application fee when applying for the residence permit for startups.

Conditions for the residence permit for startups

For the assessment, the IND consults with the Netherlands Enterprise Agency, part of the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate Policy. There are 5 conditions that you will have to satisfy:

One of the requirements for the residence permit is working together with a facilitator. This cooperation must be set down in a (signed) agreement between the startup entrepreneur and the facilitator.

  • The facilitator must have experience in guiding startups.
  • The facilitator provides the startup entrepreneur with a tailor-made package depending on the guidance the startup entrepreneur needs. The facilitator can, for example, help with operational management, marketing, research, and seeking investors for setting up the innovative company.
  • The facilitator does not have a majority interest in the startup company.
  • The facilitator has a deputy within the organisation.
  • The facilitator must also be financially sound. The facilitator may on no account be in receivership or bankrupt, and may not have any negative equity.
  • The facilitator may not be related to the startup entrepreneur (up to 3 times removed; child, parent, grandparent, uncle/aunt, cousins, nephews and nieces).

The Netherlands Enterprise Agency will assess if your product or service is 'innovative'. The product or service is innovative if at least 1 of the 3 conditions is met:

  1. The product or service is new to the Netherlands.
  2. A new technology for production, distribution or marketing is involved.
  3. There is a new innovative organisational and process approach.

(Non-definitive) examples can include the following:

  • The product or service is new to the Netherlands.
  • It represents new technology.
  • Original organisational structure/process.
  • Activities encouraged in the top sector policy.
  • Socially responsible enterprise.
  • Original energy conservation approach.
  • Smart and creative adaptations or combinations serving cross-sectorial applications.
  • New product/market combinations.
  • Creative or innovative market approach.
  • Social innovation.

As a startup entrepreneur, certain activities have to be undertaken to advance from an idea to a business. The government wants to know what activities these are. The startup entrepreneur describes this in a step-by-step plan, which contains information relating to the organisation. The startup entrepreneur must have an active role. This means they are not simply a shareholder or financier. The step-by-step plan must at least contain:

  • The structure of the organisation.
  • The roles and tasks.
  • The legal form.
  • The personnel.
  • The purpose of the enterprise.
  • A description of the idea for the product or service and why it is innovative (see condition 2).
  • The expected activities in the first year.
  • A description of the planning and activities for the business.
  • The steps to be taken to set up the company.

The startup entrepreneur must register in the Business Register of the Netherlands Chamber of Commerce (KVK). This entry must show that the startup entrepreneur has a say in the startup. This is important to be able to take decisions regarding the future enterprise.

Is it not yet possible to register the business with KVK? The facilitator can issue a declaration to guarantee the startup will be registered upon receiving the residence permit.

The facilitator must also have a KVK number. It is not necessary to provide an extract from the register, the KVK number is sufficient. The Netherlands Enterprise Agency checks the entry in the Business Register.

The startup entrepreneur must have sufficient money (income) to be able to reside, live, and set up a business in the Netherlands. Startup entrepreneurs may not rely on public funds, such as welfare benefits.

The startup entrepreneur can prove they have sufficient resources in various ways. The entrepreneur can show by way of a bank statement that they have sufficient money in their account. The amount available must be at least 70% of the standard amount for single persons under the Minimum Wage Act. Another (legal) person, such as the facilitator, may also fund the residence by providing money (resources) to the startup entrepreneur. The amount must be available for the startup entrepreneur's entire period of residence (maximum 1 year). To view the current minimum wage amounts, visit

Application approved

The application procedure can take a maximum of 3 months.

If your application is approved, you will be asked to pick up your provisional residence permit (mvv) at the Dutch consulate or embassy. Once you arrive in the Netherlands, you will be told when and where to collect your temporary residence permit. This can be an IND office or one of the Expat Centers in the Netherlands.

What happens at the end of year 1?

The residence permit for startups allows you to stay in the Netherlands and work as an entrepreneur for a maximum of 1 year. At the end of year 1, you can apply for a residence permit on a self-employed basis. Or another type of residence permit, provided you meet its conditions.

Residence permits in the Netherlands

In the Netherlands, the IND is responsible for issuing residence permits. Generally, rules and regulations vary depending on whether you are an EU or non-EU national, and on how long you are planning to stay.

If you do not have EU, EEA, or Swiss nationality, and are coming to the Netherlands to live here and work as an entrepreneur, you will need a residence permit. Depending on your country of origin, you may need to apply for a provisional residence permit and a temporary residence permit. Use the ‘Coming to the Netherlands as an entrepreneur’ tool to find out what applies to your situation.

You may also need a residence permit if you come to the Netherlands as an employee. Your employer will have to apply to the Employee Insurance Agency's (UWV) work placement branch for a work permit. A one-stop shop procedure allows you to apply for a single permit. This is a work permit and a residence permit in one.


You need to have a residence permit to register your business at the Chamber of Commerce KVK. See step 1:

Registering your company, step 1 and 2Registering your company, step 1 and 2

Questions relating to this article?

Please contact the Netherlands Enterprise Agency, RVO