What is the Dutch startup visa?
The Dutch startup visa scheme makes it possible for 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 get their innovative business started. It is mandatory to receive guidance from an experienced facilitator. This support helps you to grow from a startup into a fully fledged 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.
Orange Carpet for startups
The Netherlands promotes innovative businesses, whether Dutch or 'imported'. Several government agencies help startups find their feet in the Netherlands, such as TechLeap, NL Platform, and the Netherlands Point of Entry. Also see the article Orange Carpet: launching an innovative startup in the Netherlands.
How do I apply?
Your facilitator can submit your application for a Netherlands visa to the Immigration and Naturalisation Service (Immigratie- en Naturalisatiedienst, IND), using the appropriate application form on their website. Doing so involves providing information about yourself, your business plan and your proposed method of operation.
Startup entrepreneurs still residing 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 the IND information for startups to see if you should apply for a provisional residence permit and a startup visa, or only for a startup visa.
There is an exception for startup entrepreneurs of Australian, Canadian, Japanese, New Zealand, USA and South Korean nationality. These entrepreneurs can submit an Netherlands visa application directly with the IND using the application form on the website.
Foreign nationals who have a valid residence permit and wish to change their residence permit to a residence permit for startup entrepreneurs can also use that application form.
The application fee must be paid upon submitting the application. The residence permit can be collected from the IND office or one of the Expat Centers in the Netherlands.
The application procedure can take a maximum of 3 months.
Conditions for a startup visa
For the assessment, the IND consults with the Netherlands Enterprise Agency (Rijksdienst voor Ondernemend Nederland, RVO), part of the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate Policy. There are five conditions that you will have to satisfy:
- The product or service is new to the Netherlands.
- A new technology for production, distribution or marketing is involved.
- There is a new innovative organisational and process approach.
- The product or service is new for 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.
- 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 activities in the first year. A description of the planning and activities for the business. The steps to be gone through in setting up the company.
If your Netherlands visa application is approved, you will receive a message that you can pick up your provisional residence permit at the Dutch consulate or embassy. Once you come to the Netherlands, you will receive a letter when and where to collect your startup visa.
Residence arrangement for essential personnel for startups
Do you need to hire certain highly skilled foreign experts, essential to the development and growth of your startup? As of 1 June 2021, startups can apply for a residence arrangement for essential personnel for startups. This 4-year pilot project makes hiring essential foreign personnel easier and faster. For example, your startup does not have to meet the recognised sponsor requirement that applies to the residence permit for highly skilled migrants. There are other conditions you need to fulfil to apply for the residence arrangement.
What happens at the end of year 1?
The startup visa allows you to stay and to work as an entrepreneur for a maximum of 1 year in the Netherlands. At the end of year 1, you can apply for a residence permit on a self-employed basis or a regular residence permit including the endorsement 'Work is freely permitted' (Arbeid is vrij toegestaan).
Residence permits in the Netherlands
In the Netherlands, the Immigration and Naturalisation Service (Immigratie- en Naturalisatiedienst, 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 temporary and a residence permit. Use our tool Coming to the Netherlands as an entrepreneur to find out what applies in 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 (Uitvoeringsinstituut Werknemersverzekeringen, UWV) work placement branch for a work permit. A one stop shop procedure allows you to apply for a single permit; a work permit (verblijfsvergunning) in one.