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In the Netherlands, pensions consist of at least one of the following elements: a state pension, a supplementary pension and/or private insurance.
Old Age Pension (AOW)
In the Netherlands, in general everybody who reaches the state pension age, will receive a basic state pension: the general old age pension (AOW). Everyone residing or working in the Netherlands builds up this pension over the years. The state pension age (AOW age) is gradually changing, until it reaches 67 years in 2024. Many employees accrue a supplementary pension through their employer. As an entrepreneur you can also accrue a supplementary pension, but you must arrange for this yourself.
Old Age Pension (AOW) for entrepreneurs
If you live and work in the Netherlands, you will almost certainly be insured under the general old age pension scheme (AOW). You pay the contribution to the Dutch Tax and Customs Administration through your income tax/national insurance contributions. The amount of your AOW pension depends on the number of years you have been insured under the AOW scheme and whether you live with someone or on your own. If you have lived or worked abroad and have not paid any premiums, you are not covered for this period and will receive less AOW pension.
Old Age Pension (AOW) for employees
You pay AOW contributions for your employee to the Dutch Tax and Customs Administration. You withhold part of the contribution from your employee’s wages or payments. In some sectors a company or sectoral pension fund (Bedrijfstakpensioenfonds, Bpf) is compulsory. Has your employee reached the AOW age? Then you may terminate the employment contract. You employee may also continue working but this will affect payment of contributions and taxes.
The AOW is a basic state pension, so it is very likely that this a less than what you used to earn when you were working. Employees can accrue a supplementary pension through a group pension scheme. A compulsory supplementary pension through a company or sectoral pension fund is usually not available for entrepreneurs. However, if they, for instance, are working in the notary or healthcare sector or in ports, they can arrange a supplementary pension with their occupational pension fund. The construction and finishing sector, for instance, offers a sector pension fund. Entrepreneurs may also choose to join a General Pension Fund (Algemeen Pensioenfonds, APF).
If you are an entrepreneur working in an industry with a mandatory pension fund, then you must participate, even if you are a self-employed professional. If you had employment before becoming self-employed, you can sometimes voluntarily continue the pension scheme of you former employer. In that case, the pension contribution remains deductible for 10 years.
There are many ways to further supplement your pension, for instance:
- special bank savings accounts and retirement annuity contract (lijfrenteverzekering)
- savings or investments
- reserve part of you annual profits as a retirement reserve
- sell your company and convert the discontinuation profit to tax free annuity
- join one of the voluntary pension funds for self-employed professionals
- join a general pension fund
Pension after death
In most cases, a partner is entitled to a survivor benefit (nabestaandenpensioen). This is subject to certain conditions. If someone passes away, then their partner receives a part of their pension rights. A partner can be entitled to a benefit under the National Survivor Benefits Act (Algemene Nabestaandenwet, Anw).
Right to retirement pension information
Pension funds must provide their participants with adequate and appropriate information concerning their pension, so that they know what to expect upon retirement. This information must also clearly show the financial implications of any choices participants may make or of any changes that may occur in their personal situation. The information is provided by your pension fund through Mijnpensioenoverzicht.nl (in Dutch).