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When you own a business in the Netherlands and you are no longer able to pay off your debts, you can petition the court (Dutch) to be declared bankrupt. To do so, you must use a special form (Dutch). You can do this for yourself or for the company you represent. You do not need a lawyer to submit the application to the court.
Bankruptcy by creditors
If you have two or more creditors, they can file for your bankruptcy through a lawyer. Whether applying for bankruptcy is worthwhile, among other things depends on how much money they are owed and the kind of claim they have. Instead of filing for bankruptcy, your creditors could also suggest mediation to try and reach an agreement that is acceptable to all parties involved.
All your assets are seized in a bankruptcy. Depending on the legal form of your business, you may also be declared personally bankrupt.
Insolvency and directors' and officers' liability
If you are a director or officer of a public (NV) or private limited company (BV) that is no longer able to pay certain taxes or employee or pension contributions (insolvency), you should report this immediately to the Dutch Tax and Customs Administration, the Employee Insurance Agency (UWV) (Dutch) or your pension fund. Failure to do so may result in personal liability.
What happens next
If the court declares you or your company bankrupt, they will appoint an official receiver. This is the only person who is allowed to administer your company from the day that you have been declared bankrupt. The receiver is allowed to sell your assets and divide the proceeds among your creditors. They decide whether you will have to stop your work at once or at a later moment in time. They can also give you permission for activities you are still allowed to do. This may, for example, concern selling, concluding contracts or paying or collecting bills.
If you want to start again as entrepreneur, but you still have unpaid debts or accounts, then be aware you will still have to pay these debts or bills to your creditors, for example to the Dutch Tax and Customs Administration.
Your customer's bankruptcy
If one of your customers has gone bankrupt and still owes you money, their receiver will send you a letter about their bankruptcy. If you have not received this letter, make sure to contact them yourself. During a meeting, when the receiver will discuss all outstanding accounts, you may clarify your claim.
Ranking of creditors
In a bankruptcy a ranking of creditors applies. This ranking depends partly on the claim. As soon as the receiver has determined the ranking, they will produce a (final) distribution list.
Central Insolvency Register
At the Netherlands Judiciary website (Rechtspraak.nl) you find all bankruptcies, suspension of payments and debts managements of natural persons after 1 January 2005. This is called the Central Insolvency Register (Dutch).