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If you set up a company in the Netherlands, you must choose a company name (trade name). This name must meet the conditions of the Trade Name Act (Handelsnaamwet), which basically means that you have to choose a name that is unique in the sector and region in which you operate. You should actively use your tradename in order to be protected by the Trade Name Act. You can do this by displaying the name on your website, building or communication.
You have to submit the trade name when registering with the Chamber of Commerce (Kamer van Koophandel, KVK). They will pass on your details to the Dutch Tax and Customs Administration (Belastingdienst). You can also check if your company name is already in use by searching the Commercial Register (in Dutch).
If you wish to use your trade name as a trademark, you must register your trade name at the Benelux Office for Intellectual Property (BOIP).
Rules for your trade name
Your trade name should not be the same as or similar to that of another company. You cannot incorporate a brand name used by another company or a personal name other than yours. Your trade name should not be misleading to customers or suppliers. This means your trade name should not be similar to a company that offers the same products or services in the same area.
The name you choose should not be incorrect: for example, a one-man company cannot be named '…&co'. Your trade name should not give the wrong impression as to what your business does. You cannot use the term ‘foundation’ in your name if your company is not legally a foundation. If you use a trade name that does not comply with these rules, you may be fined.
If you think another company's trade name is misleading or confusing with regard to your own trade name, you can start proceedings at your local district court (in Dutch). You can no longer make a request for a national trade name investigation to KVK.
If you wish to change the name of your company or if you wish to add an additional trade name, you should pass this information on to KVK. You can use the change form for submitting changes to your business details. As with the first-time registration, in most cases KVK will pass on the information about the name change to the Dutch Tax and Customs Administration.