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If you run a business in the Netherlands or if you run a foreign company with a Dutch branch, you may have to pay turnover tax (VAT) in the Netherlands. This also applies if your company is established abroad, but does business in the Netherlands. In all cases you need a VAT number, also known as VAT identification number (btw-nummer or btw-identificatie nummer).
Receiving a VAT number
If you set up a business in the Netherlands, you must have it registered in the Dutch Commercial Register of the Netherlands Chamber of Commerce (KVK). If you do so, the KVK will immediately issue you a VAT number, as long as you provide all the relevant information required for the Dutch Tax and Customs Administration. The Dutch Tax and Customs Administration will confirm this number in writing. If you have registered without providing all relevant details, the Dutch Tax and Customs Administration will first assess if you are an entrepreneur for VAT purposes. They will then usually send you your VAT number within 5 working days.
If your company is established abroad, but provides services in the Netherlands or supplies goods to Dutch-based companies, you need to register directly with the Dutch Tax and Customs Administration to receive your VAT number.
VAT number format
A VAT number has 14 characters, consisting of the NL country code, followed by either the Legal Entities and Partnerships Information Number (RSIN), or your Citizen Service Number (BSN) and supplemented with a code comprising three characters between B01 and B99 (for example NL 123456789B01). Your invoices must clearly display your VAT number. If you offer services or sell products via a website, you must also display your VAT number on the website (in Dutch). The Dutch Tax and Customs Administration states your VAT number on any letters and forms they send to you.
Checking validity of clients' VAT numbers
If you want to check the validity of your Dutch client's VAT number, or a client who has their registered office in another EU country, you can use the European Commission's VIES VAT number validation (VAT Information Exchange System). With VIES, you can also check name and address of clients from most Member States.
If you want to find out a company's VAT number, you should contact that company in order to receive this number directly from them. You can also check a company's VAT number on the Chamber of Commerce (KvK) website (in Dutch).
Deregistering your VAT number
If you deregister your company with KVK, deregistration with the Dutch Tax and Customs Administration database follows automatically. Your VAT number will then be deregistered, of which you will receive a written confirmation.
New VAT number
At the end of 2019, all self-employed professionals/freelancers (zzp-ers) in the Netherlands will receive a new VAT number. The new VAT number is an alternative to the current VAT number which contains your citizen service number. This measure will reduce the risk of identity fraud and better protect your privacy. Once it has been introduced, this number must be displayed on your invoices and websites. By 1 January 2020, you must have replaced your old VAT number with your new one in your administration and other communication. Please note that the date of this change in legislation is not yet definitive. Its implemenetation depends on it passing through the Upper and Lower Houses of Parliament.