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Petitioning for bankruptcy

This information is provided by

Netherlands Enterprise Agency, RVO | Statistics Netherlands, CBS

When you own a business in the Netherlands and you are no longer able to pay off your debts, you can petition the court (in Dutch) to be declared bankrupt. Creditors, the public prosecutor, the court and your shareholders can also petition the court to declare you bankrupt.

Petitioning for your own bankruptcy

You can petition for bankruptcy for yourself or for the company you represent. Before you take this step, you may consider debt restructuring or suspension of payment. You may be eligible under the following conditions:

  • You have 2 or more debts, one of which is due immediately;
  • You owe money to 2 or more creditors;
  • You have stopped paying.

How to petition for bankruptcy

You petition for bankruptcy with the court in your district. To do so, you must use this form (in Dutch). You are not obliged to have a lawyer if you apply for you own bankruptcy, but you should be present when your case comes before the court.

Partner must also sign

If you want to petition for bankruptcy for your sole proprietorship or general partnership and you are married or have a registered partnership, your partner must also sign the petition.

Shareholders must agree

If you are a director or officer of a public (NV) or private limited company (BV) with shareholders, you can only petition for bankruptcy if the shareholders agree.

What if someone else applies for your bankruptcy?

You can be made bankrupt if you:

  • have 2 or more debts, one of which is due immediately
  • owe money to 2 or more creditors
  • have stopped paying

Who can apply to make you bankrupt?

The following parties can apply to have you declared bankrupt:

  • your creditors
  • the Public Prosecution Service, for instance if you have outstanding debts to many people
  • the court, if you are involved in debt restructuring and you do not comply with the arrangements
  • your shareholders

You are not required to be present when in court. The judge will decide whether or not you will be declared bankrupt.

What if you do not agree?

You can let the court know if you do not agree with the bankruptcy petition. You must be able to prove that can pay your debts. You can tell the judge during the court session or you can write a letter.

Petitioning someone else’s bankruptcy

Does a customer owe you money? and does this customer not pay even after you have sent reminders? You can have a customer made bankrupt. In that case you are the creditor and the customers is the debtor.

You can apply for a customer’s bankruptcy if they

  • have 2 or more debts, one of which is due immediately
  • owe money to 2 or more creditors
  • have stopped paying

You will need a lawyer to petition the court for your debtor’s bankruptcy. You as a debtor will need to be present during the court session.

What happens after you have been declared bankrupt?

If the court declares you or your company bankrupt, they will appoint an official receiver. This is the only person who is allowed to manage your company from the day that you have been declared bankrupt. He/she decides on the order in which your creditors will be repaid.

Find out more on what happens after you have petitioned for bankruptcy.

Administration ban

If one of the company directors has committed bankruptcy fraud, he/she can be banned from acting as a director for a period of up to 5 years. During that time he/she cannot act as a director for a legal entity.

Starting again

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. You may clarify your claim, when the receiver calls a meeting to discuss all outstanding accounts.

Please note: if the receiver was unable to locate all creditors, any leftover amounts will be stored in the so-called Consignatiekas (consignment office, in Dutch). This deposit with the Ministry of Finance stores leftover (monetary) funds from, among others, bankruptcies and debt restructuring settlements for a period of 20 years. If you have a legitimate claim and have proof of this, you can file your claim through the Ministry of Finance (in Dutch). You can search the Ministry’s database (in Dutch) to find out if there are any funds left after a bankruptcy or debt restructuring settlement of your customer.

If one of your customers owes you money but does not pay you even after repeated reminders, you can file for their bankruptcy (in Dutch) if you are not the sole creditor.

Central Insolvency Register

All bankruptcies, suspension of payments and debts managements of natural persons are listed on the Netherlands Judiciary website (Rechtspraak.nl). This is called the Central Insolvency Register (in Dutch).

Statistics: bankruptcies

Number of bankruptcies.

This article is related to:

This information is provided by

Netherlands Enterprise Agency, RVO
Statistics Netherlands, CBS