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If you enter into a contract with a company, government or consumer in the Netherlands, payments usually have a specific term within which they should be made. This term may not be unreasonably long. The payment term is usually detailed in the general conditions of the contract.
Legal payment terms
There is no legal payment term for consumers. As an entrepreneur you can stipulate a reasonable payment term for consumers. You detail this term in the contract or general conditions.
Payment terms for contracts between companies, and for contracts between companies and governments, are governed by Dutch law. There are different rules for large companies and for small and medium-sized businesses. Payment terms for agreements between companies are laid down in a European Directive.
Business-to-business (B2B) contracts
- If you do not stipulate otherwise in the contract, the invoice must be paid within 30 days of the invoice being received.
- You may set a longer payment period of up to 60 days in the contract.
- A payment term of over 60 days is only permitted if it can be demonstrated that this is not harmfulto either party.
There are additional rules for large companies to ensure that small suppliers are not disadvantaged by excessively long payment terms set by the larger party.
- A payment term of over 60 days is not permitted between large companies and SMEs or self-employed professionals (ZZPers).
- Agreements with a payment term of over 60 days will be annulled. The payment term will then automatically be changed to 30 days.
- If the purchaser pays the invoice after the 30-day payment term, it will owe statutory interest over the period exceeding the 30-day payment term.
Contracts between companies and governments
The invoice must be paid within 30 days of the invoice being received. You are not at will to deviate from this payment period. Central government uses the General Government Terms and Conditions for Public Service Contracts (ARVODI), the General Government Terms and Conditions for Purchase (ARIV) and the General Government Terms and Conditions for IT Contracts (ARBIT).
When your customer fails to pay
If your customer doesn't pay your invoice in time or not at all, you are allowed to
- charge a standard fee for collection costs of at least €40
- charge a reasonable compensation for expenses incurred, such as legal fees of collection costs
- to charge statutory interest, calculated from the date the payment term expires
Collection costs are the costs you incur as a creditor in order to collect a money claim, if your debtor fails to pay this claim of his own accord. The fee is a percentage of the bill. If your debtor is a company (B2B), you will be able to deviate from this in an agreement. Statutory regulations will apply if there is no agreement.
Statutory interest for commercial transactions applies to deliveries to companies and the government. In case of deliveries to consumers, the statutory interest rate for non-commercial transactions applies. De Nederlandsche Bank (DNB) publishes several interest rates, among others the current statutory interest rates.
Retention of title or ownership
If you sell goods, you can include a retention of title or an ownership clause in the purchase agreement or in your general terms and conditions. In that case the goods remain yours until the buyer has paid for them. This way you can reclaim goods in case of bankruptcy, for example. You cannot claim ownership if for instance the buyer has processed the goods.
Demand for payment
Only if your customer is a consumer, you must send them a demand for payment. If your customer is a company, you are not obliged to do so.