Do you run a business in the Netherlands? Dutch government inspectors may visit your company for an inspection. For instance, inspections are being carried out by the Netherlands Labour Authority (Nederlandse Arbeidsinspectie, NLA), the Dutch Tax and Customs Administration, the fire department and municipal or provincial authorities. They will check if you comply with the law, for example on fire safety, environmental safety, and working conditions.
What inspectors can and cannot do, is regulated in the General Administrative Law Act (Algemene wet bestuursrecht, Awb). Inspectors are, for instance, allowed to:
- Visit for inspections, without advance warning.
- Enter your premises, even without your permission. However, they do need permission to enter your private home.
- Inspect your company car, ship, or other company vehicles, for instance to see what you are transporting (the inspector has the right to stop your vehicle).
- Take samples, and inspect and copy documents. They may give warnings, impose penalties and seize goods.
Inspectors must always be able to prove their identity.
During the inspection, you and your staff members must give full assistance.
- Upon request, you must, for example, open doors or packaging, move items and find documents or other data.
- You are obliged to answer their questions, unless you are under a formal obligation to secrecy by law, by office, or by profession.
Public disclosure of inspection data
The inspector will discuss the results of the inspection with you and draw up a report. These reports are often public. This means your company’s or organisation’s name are visible to the general public. For instance the Netherlands Labour Authority (NLA, in Dutch) and the Netherlands Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority (in Dutch) make their inspection data public.
Important inspection organisations
A number of organisations that may visit your business are:
- Radiocommunications Agency Netherlands
- Authority for Consumers and Markets
- Dutch Tax and Customs Administration
- Cultural Heritage Agency of the Netherlands
- Health Care Inspectorate
- Netherlands Labour Authority
- Human Environment and Transport Inspectorate
- Netherlands Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority
If an inspection reveals you do not keep to the rules, you are in breach of legislation. The inspection body will let you know how you can repair this violation. Do you fail to comply? In general:
- The inspection body can impose periodic penalty payments. You will have the opportunity to restore your violation of regulations and you have to pay a fine.
- The inspection body may impose coercive administrative action. This means they will restore you fault (and the inspection body is allowed to seize goods or close off your site until this has happened) at your cost.
- The inspection body can impose an administrative fine. You may be fined without getting the chance to repair your violation.
All government inspection bodies are allowed to this. Do you disagree? You can object to the inspection body that imposed the measure.