The Dutch government is doing its best to control the effects of the coronavirus. It is also taking measures to help businesses that are affected by the crisis. You will probably have questions about these measures. See if your question is answered below. More information about the schemes can be found on the specific page.
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Running your business
The government has presented a re-opening plan for society in 5 steps. Step 4 will be implemented from 26 June 2021. Only the 1.5-metre distancing rule remains the norm everywhere. Read more about the re-opening plan on the Government.nl website.
The article Rules for running your business offers a short summary of the rules for businesses, and links to the specific rules per sector. These rules were drawn up by the government together with relevant sector organisations. To find out if they do in yours, check the info on your safety region regularly (in Dutch). To avoid the spreading of the virus, there must be a good ventilation system in the place of work.
There is not enough money coming in as an effect of the corona crisis. You can apply for several emergency measures, depending on your type of business:
- The NOW scheme is set up to help businesses with a turnover loss of more than 20% to cover their employees' wage payments.
- If you are a self-employed professional (zzp-er), you will be able to apply to your municipality for the temporary financial support measure for self-employed professionals (Tozo).
- Companies that experience significant turnover loss qualify for the TVL scheme. Several conditions apply.
- SMEs can make use of the extended SME credit guarantee scheme, BMKB-C.
- Small companies can also make use of the KKC, or bridging loans for small companies scheme.
- For agricultural entrepreneurs, there is the extended Credit Guarantee scheme for Agriculture (BL-C).
- Larger businesses can make use of the Business loan guarantee scheme, GO.
- Do you worry your business won't make it? Read this article on how to prevent bankruptcy.
- Make arrangements with creditors and use the new WHOA act.
- Are you temporarily unable to pay your debts? Then you can file for a suspension of payment.
- If you are unable to pay your debts, you can make use of debt restructuring.
- If you want to temporarily stop your business, you can use the Time-Out Arrangement. This is a precursor to the new WHOA act, which makes it easier for businesses to reach agreements with their creditors and avoid bankruptcy. The terms for TOA are still being worked out.
- Is your company in danger of going bankrupt? Read our articles on bankruptcy.
Entrepreneurs who are affected by the coronavirus and employ staff can apply for the Temporary Emergency Bridging Measure for Sustained Employment (NOW,Noodfonds Overbrugging Werkgelegenheid). They can also apply for the Reimbursement Fixed Costs SMEs (TVL). Or make use of the extended BMKB scheme (see the questions on BMKB-C). Self-employed professionals can apply for the extended financial benefit for self-employed professionals (Tozo). For hospitality businesses, event organisers and their suppliers, extra TVL support is available. Read the TVL article for details.
What is the Reimbursement Fixed Costs scheme (Tegemoetkoming Vaste Lasten mkb, TVL)?
The Reimbursement Fixed Costs scheme (Tegemoetkoming Vaste Lasten, TVL) helps companies that meet the conditions to pay part of their fixed costs. It is a compensation for fixed costs like rent and maintenance. Wage costs are not compensated under this scheme. Businesses can apply to the Netherlands Enterprise Agency.
This compensation is for businesses that have a significant turnover loss, to help them pay their fixed costs. The fixed costs mentioned are costs like rent, lease, maintenance, insurance, and subscription costs. Wage costs are not included; those are covered by the NOW scheme. For TVL Q2 2021, April through June 2021, the subsidy percentage will be increased to 100%. Also, the TVL scheme will be extended until 30 September 2021.
The TVL compensation scheme targets businesses that suffer large turnover losses due to the corona crisis, and have trouble settling their fixed costs. To compensate turnover loss over the period from 1 October - 31 December 2020, all companies that meet the requirements can apply. To cover the period from 1 January - 30 June 2021, only businesses with a selected SBI code (and that also meet the other requirements) can apply for the TVL scheme. From 21 January 2021, the threshold of 250 employees no longer applies.
Yes, you can. The TVL scheme is an addition to the NOW scheme. Receiving TVL no longer affects the amount you receive in wage compensation costs under the NOW scheme, from October 2020. Before, the TVL compensation counted as turnover.
To help businesses that have been affected by the coronavirus crisis, the SME credit guarantee scheme (BMKB) has been extended. This additional scheme is called BMKB-C. It came into effect on 16 March. The scheme allows companies to borrow (more) money more quickly from accredited financiers, such as banks. Entrepreneurs can use the BMKB-C for a bridge loan to meet their financial obligations, or to increase the overdraft limit (how much they are allowed to be ‘in the red’) on their current account.
The government wants to help businesses prevent liquidity problems due to the coronavirus. The BMKB-C means that the government stands as guarantor for companies that want to take out a loan, but are unable to offer their financiers (mostly banks) the financial security they want. In practice, this means that, using the BMKB-C, you can take out a bigger loan than you would be able to get based on your collateral. You can apply for the BMKB-C until 31 December 2021.
You cannot apply for the BMKB-C scheme yourself. You can ask an accredited financier, usually the bank, to make use of the scheme. Consult the Netherlands Enterprise Agency (RVO) website for a list of the accredited financing parties (in Dutch). Normally, the bank would apply to the Netherlands Enterprise Agency for the scheme, but to speed up the procedure, the government and the banks have agreed to let the banks do the evaluation of applications themselves. The banks can use the BMKB-C scheme without consulting RVO.
Agreements must be fulfilled, that is the basis of our legal system. An appeal to force majeure is not often approved. You should not count on being able to make such an appeal successfully.
Whether or not force majeure is in play depends on the contract you have drawn up. Commercial contracts often feature a force majeure clause. This clause states under which circumstances force majeure applies, and what the consequences are if these circumstances occur. It usually features matters like government measures, strikes, sudden blockages to the infrastructure, or shortages in transport. So, you may be able to claim force majeure based on the government measures taken to stop the spreading of the coronavirus. It is also possible to include illness, epidemics or quarantine in your contract. The district court decides, if you have a dispute.
Does you agreement not contain a force majeure clause? Then check the applicable law. This may be either Dutch law, or the law in your customer’s country. Not being able to deliver is described in the law as ‘a shortcoming in the fulfilment of a contract’ in articles 74 and onwards of Book 6 of the Civil Code (Burgerlijk Wetboek, in Dutch). Do you fail to meet your contractual obligations? Then you may ultimately have to pay damages.
Pandemic outbreaks, such as the coronavirus, are expected to be excluded from the terms and conditions of insurance policies.
For cancelled travel plans, consult your travel organisation. Consult your insurance company for events and conferences.
It depends on the type of damage. If you miss out on income due to the coronavirus, that is a business damage, or trading loss. However, trading loss insurance only covers material damage, and the Insurers Association (Verbond van Verzekeraars) has announced (in Dutch) that income losses due to corona do not fall into that category.
When it comes to personnel, it is a different story. If your employees have to stay at home sick, you must continue to pay their wages. If you have taken out sick pay insurance, this will cover the obligation to continue wage payments. Is your employee unable to work, due to illness? Then the sick pay insurance will pay out, no matter what the illness. But if your employee has to remain in quarantine, or is unable to leave an area as a precautionary measure, the insurance company will not pay out.
What about you? If you decide not to work, because you don’t want to catch the virus, or if you are in quarantine, or unable to leave an area as a precautionary measure, your disability insurance will not cover it. Disability insurance only covers income loss due to illness or a (physical) inability to work, and that is not the case in the example described above. If you contract the coronavirus and become ill, the disability insurance will pay.
No. You cannot order your employees to come to work. If your employees do have to work on site, it is up to you to provide a safe working environment for your employees. This includes minimising the risk of them contracting coronavirus. Should people come to the office, because the cannot work from home, they must stay 1.5 metres apart in the office at all times, including in lifts and cafeterias. The government is calling on people to travel to work outside peak hours as far as possible.
The requirement to wear a facemask indoors and in a public space will no longer apply per 26 June, provided the 1.5 meter distancing-rule is still in place. An office or warehouse is not a public space, a shop is. It is up to your employees to follow the government's advice. You can also check with your own sector organisation (in Dutch) about the corona rules. In the following locations the face maks should still be used after 26 June: public transport, aeroplanes and other forms of passenger transport, bus and train stations, airports and in secondary schools.
Rijksoverheid.nl has prepared several information posters about the coronavirus, available in several languages.
The Temporary Emergency Bridging Measure for Sustained Employment, or NOW, allows you to continue to pay your staff if your business suffers a turnover loss of over 20%. The Employee Insurance Agency (UWV) will compensate a maximum of 90% of your payroll obligations, and in that way you can continue to pay your employees their full wages. There are conditions and terms to be met, which you can read about in the regulation.
The NOW scheme applies to all your employees, whether they have a permanent contract, a temporary one, a zero-hours or an on-call contract. Read what the conditions are in the regulation.
The NOW scheme applies to all employees who are under contract at your business. Permanent staff, fixed-term employees, on-call workers, and workers with a zero-hours contract are all entitled to payment of their wages and you will be able to apply for compensation of the payroll sum to the Employee Insurance Agency. Temporary agency workers (uitzendkrachten) are under contract with the temp agency. The temp agency will be able to apply for NOW for these workers. Payroll workers are paid by the payrolling company, so the payrolling company will be able to apply for NOW for these workers.
The employee Insurance Agency UWV executes the NOW scheme. Check the turnover loss calculation aid (in Dutch) to see if you qualify for the NOW scheme.
Yes. Concerns that have operating companies that suffer more than 20% turnover loss will be able to claim NOW for the employees of that operating company. There are conditions and terms, for instance, you are not allowed to pay dividend, buy your own shares or award bonuses over the year for which you claim NOW. Nor will you be able to claim NOW if one of your operating companies is an intra-group secondment company (personeels-bv). Read all conditions in the NOW article.
The Temporary Emergency Bridging Measure for Sustained Employment (NOW,Noodfonds Overbrugging Werkgelegenheid) has come into force due to an unprecedented number of applications for wtv permits. The wtv scheme is not tailored to the profound effects of the coronavirus outbreak on Dutch companies and organisations. That is why wtv has been canceled. The government wants to support more employers and do this more quickly.
If you already applied for the unemployment benefit for a short-time working permit, your application will automatically be considered as an application for the NOW.
If your staff cannot come to work as a consequence of mandatory quarantine, travel restrictions or other coronavirus-induced blockages, you will most likely have to continue paying them. However, which exact rules apply depends on the specific circumstances and the labour laws per country.
When your employees work from home, the Dutch Working Conditions Act (Arbeidsomstandighedenwet) applies. Communicate the agreements with your employees. Think of agreements about breaks, maintenance of computers and equipment of machines. You should also inform them of the risks they run, such as the risk of RSI or work-related stress. It is also advisable to check whether the workplace meets the working conditions requirements. You can find out by having your employee fill in a checklist. Does the workplace fail to meet the requirements? Then you have to facilitate a better workplace. Also read the article Employer during the corona crisis: what you can and must do.
Continue to ask your employees to work from home and in the office try to facilitate the 1.5 meter distancing. If your employees travel to work using public transport, make sure they wear non-medical face masks. You can reimburse them for the costs. If an employee displays any corona-associated symptoms, urge them to take a test and to stay at home. You cannot force them to take a test and you are not allowed to ask the result of a test, due to privacy.
Contact the RIVM directly if you have doubts about what to do in specific situations.
Self-employed (including zzp)
If you are in danger of losing your income, you can apply to your municipality for a temporary extra benefit under the extended financial support for self-employed professionals scheme (Tozo). The terms for application have been relaxed, to speed up the process. Also, the interest rate for loans has been decreased.
Self-employed professionals can also make use of the SME credit guarantee scheme, if their legal business structure is sole proprietor, general partnership (vof) or private limited company (bv). And you can check whether you are eligible for TVL. Read more about self-employed professionals and their options during corona.
Here are some measures you can take yourself when you find your company is in stormy weather:
- Look for changes you could make to your business processes. Perhaps you could get deliveries from different suppliers, from other countries, or you could offer your services in a different region.
- Do you have outstanding invoices? See if you can get these paid. Or you could try factoring, a type of credit where you ‘sell’ your outstanding invoices to a third party, and quickly get your money.
- Discuss the possibility of a longer than usual payment term with your suppliers and other parties you owe money.
- Look into external financing. Always ask your bank first (for instance a current account) before considering other financing options (also see: SME credit guarantee scheme).
Take care! Flash credits may seem a quick and easy way to get money, but they come at a price – usually a high one. Is your company in debt? Read this article to see what you can do about it.
Yes. Self-employed professionals (zzp-ers) can make use of the BMKB-C if their legal business entity is a sole trader/proprietor, a general partnership (vof) or a private limited company (bv). Generally speaking however, zzp-ers have lower financing needs, and so do not often make use of this scheme.
Tozo is a temporary scheme to help out entrepreneurs and self-employed professionals who have a viable business but are going through a rough patch. The provision is based on the financial support for self-employed professionals scheme (Bbz), but several requirements are relaxed. Self-employed professionals can apply for support in the municipality where they live, in the shape of additional livelihood support and/or a business capital loan. The Tozo scheme has been extended twice. Ask your municipality when you will be able to apply for Tozo 3.
If your company is in the Netherlands, but you live abroad (in the EER or Switzerland), you can apply to the municipality of Maastricht for a business loan with retroactive effect from 1 March. You cannot apply for extra support for the cost of living; for that, turn to the social services in the country where you live.
Self-employed professionals who want to make use of the scheme can apply at the municipality where they live. So, for instance, if you live in Aalsmeer but have your business in Amsterdam, you apply for the Tozo scheme in Aalsmeer. Go to the website of your municipality, or call to find out how to apply where you live. Although the application process will be mostly the same everywhere, it is up to your municipality to provide details on where to send the application and how.
TechLeap.nl offers the COVID-19 Startup Guide, a toolkit that contains resources, contact and information points, as well as analyses of the corona crisis.
The Netherlands Point of Entry advises all Netherlands Startup Visa holders to contact the RVO Startup Visa team directly via email: email@example.com.
The Regional Development Companies (ROMs) may be able to help you out. Contact the ROM in your province or region. If you want to apply for a loan, fill out the form on the Techleap.nl website. An English translation (pdf) is available.
SMEs with relatively small financial needs may be eligible for a bridging loan of up to €50,000 under the Small Corona Credit Guarantee Scheme (Klein Krediet Corona Garantieregeling or KKC).
International business and travel
The government is taking several measures to protect international trade. The export credit insurance now also covers short-term projects that have been active for less than 2 years. In addition, options for domestic coverage are extended, national policies will become more flexible and coverage will be available for more countries. Procedures are also extended and accelerated, and a higher percentage of working capital is covered. For more information, visit Rijksoverheid.nl (in Dutch).
For cancelled travel plans, consult your travel organisation. Consult your insurance company for events and congresses.
You can travel to countries with a low infection rate, classified as code green or yellow. Travel to countries with code red is still urged against. You can check the travel advice for your destination with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs travel advice (in Dutch). You can also find information for travellers on the Rijksoverheid.nl website (in Dutch).
There are travel restrictions in place for travel into the Netherlands. Travellers from non-EEA countries have to be able to show a recent negative coronavirus test result to enter the Netherlands. As of 1 June, persons who are exempt from the EU entry ban may travel to the Netherlands from South Africa, India, and all Middle- and South-American countries by air. The travel restrictions can be lifted or re-instated for individual countries, according to the current situation. For full and up to date details on who is and who is not allowed to travel into the Netherlands, check the Government.nl Visiting the Netherlands page.
If your staff cannot come to work as a consequence of mandatory quarantine, travel restrictions or other coronavirus-inspired blockages, you will most likely have to continue paying them. However, which exact rules apply depends on the specific circumstances and the labour laws per country.
It seems unlikely that Customs procedures for goods will be more stringent, since the virus does not spread that way. Do you run into problems at Customs? FME, the Dutch technology sector organisation, has opened a notification and information portal for entrepreneurs who have to deal with the negative impact of the coronavirus.
You can only claim compensation measures like NOW for the turnover loss you incur on payments made directly to you, that is, the part of your invoices sent to patients that is not covered by their healthcare insurance provider. For the turnover loss on payments you would normally receive from the health insurance companies, a special continuity scheme is being prepared by the healthcare insurance companies. This came into effect on 15 May 2020, see the news item (in Dutch) on the website of Zorgverzekeraars Nederland.
This measure came into effect on 15 May 2020. Zorgverzekeraars Nederland, the healthcare insurance companies umbrella organisation, explains how to apply in this news item (in Dutch) on their website.
- If you were granted a payment extension for income tax, corporate tax, payroll tax, and turnover tax (VAT) before 1 October, you can request an extra extension until 1 July 2021. The Dutch Tax Administration will put on hold any measures in place to collect payment immediately upon reception of your request.
- If you were granted the special tax payment extension for one or all of the abovementioned taxes, you will have 5 years to pay, starting no later than 1 October 2021.
- You will not have to pay any fines for late payment. Also, it is not necessary to send in any proof straightaway. You will have more time for this.
- The normal collection interest rate for paying after the payment term has passed will be decreased from 4% to nearly 1% temporarily. This applies to all tax debts. The tax interest rate will also temporarily be set to the lowest possible percentage for all entrepreneurs.
Read more about the Dutch Tax Administration measures to help entrepreneurs.
Reduction of provisionary assessment
Do you expect lower profits due to the coronavirus, and are you currently paying a provisionary assessment for income tax or corporate income tax? Then you can change your provisionary assessment. If you want to change your income tax provisionary assessment, go to the online portal for individuals: MijnBelastingdienst (in Dutch); to change a corporate tax provisionary assessment go to the business portal: MijnBelastingdienst Zakelijk (in Dutch).
Call the Tax Information Line
Since the information on the tax options offered to entrepreneurs during the coronavirus crisis is mostly only available in Dutch, it would be wise to consult the Tax Information Line if Dutch isn't your primary language. The number for resident entrepreneurs is +31 (0)800 0543; non-residents can call +31(0)55 538 53 85.
It is also a good idea to ask someone - your accountant, for instance - to help you.
Call the KVK Coronaloket
Do you have a question not listed here? Call the KVK Coronaloket on 0800 2117 on weekdays from 8:30-17:00 hours. Calling from abroad? Dial+31 (0)88 585 2222.