You need an address in the Netherlands to register your business at the Chamber of Commerce KVK. See step 1:
To find out more about a specific Dutch region, contact one of the nine Regional Development Agencies (RDA) or ROMs in the Netherlands. These are non-profit corporations with public shareholders, whose aim it is to make their region an appealing location to set up your business. They provide information, host network meetings, and can provide funding.
Port of Rotterdam
The Port of Rotterdam area is home to many companies in different areas, such as:
- petrochemical and biobased industries, with over 45 chemical companies and 5 refineries.
- fuel: large-scale production, storage and trading of oil and oil products.
- transport and logistics: the largest port in Europe attracts transport and logistics companies from all over the world.
- storage and container transhipment.
The Eindhoven Brainport area consists of 21 municipalities and campuses, field labs and innovation hubs. This is where technology blends with energy, design, healthcare, mobility and the food sector.
Amsterdam and Schiphol
Amsterdam and nearby Schiphol airport attract many companies in many different fields:
- The settling of the European Medicines Agency (EMA) attracts many pharmaceutical companies.
- Both FinTech and traditional finance companies such as (international) brokers and banks find their way to the Zuidas.
- There are over one hundred fashion houses, 57 of which are non-Dutch fashion companies. Especially the denim industry thrives here.
- Transport and logistics: More than 400 transport and logistics companies operate in the local area.
Beside Amsterdam there are six other regions that have a thriving start-up business culture.
- The Netherlands Chamber of Commerce KVK has economic data per region available (in Dutch).
- Or read the KVK article on finding the right location for your business by focussing on the key sector hubs.
- Here you can find an interactive map of the Netherlands and all its industries and business sectors (in Dutch).
Once you have narrowed down the location within the country and you know in which area you want to start your business, there are still many things to consider. You will need to analyse the area. The economic situation. Who live and work here? What businesses are located here? Is it a region with a lot of employment or is unemployment comparatively high? Is this area growing, are there plans to invest? Do your research and check with the municipality.
The plans you have for your location must be in line with the municipal zoning plan (bestemmingsplan). A zoning plan includes detailed rules on how a certain plot of land or area can be used. For instance, you cannot build a factory in a residential area. If you want to buy or rent an existing building, you will need to check if your activities are allowed. For instance, if you have bought a house you will need to check if you can start a restaurant there. Zoning plans can be viewed at the municipality or province and via the Dutch-language website Ruimtelijkeplannen.nl.
Target group and competitors
Do you want to sell a product and do you know who your target group is? Then it is good to know what the population structure is like in your municipality. Where do your customers live? What do they spend their money on? Why would they want to buy your product? Young families, for example, have a different spending pattern than residents of an ageing district. Ask CBS for data per neighbourhood (in Dutch).
Are there competitors in the area? Learn about them. Do you offer something your competition does not? How will your business stand out? Read more about this.
The Netherlands Chamber of Commerce KVK offers a location scan in Dutch, intended for companies that focus on consumers. You can choose an industry from approximately 500 available so-called SBI codes. The Location Scan provides you with an overview containing basic information about the population (demand) and competition (supply) in a location (municipality or district) of your choice.
Will your business have an impact on the environment? Businesses in the Netherlands have to deal with environmental regulations concerning issues such as noise, energy, waste, air and soil quality. Read more here and find out if you need any permits, for instance an All-in-one permit for environmental aspects.
Permits and licences
In the Netherlands, you need a permit for most building, renovation, demolishing, construction, living, monuments, environment, nature and open space activities. This is the so-called All-in-one permit for physical aspects (Omgevingsvergunning in Dutch). Take the online permit check (in Dutch) to assess the exact type of All-in-one permit you need for your specific activity. After an environmental analysis, you will know whether or not the conditions are favourable for your business at a certain location. Your environmental analysis is part of your SWOT analysis.
Another important consideration is the cost of renting or buying offices, warehouses and/or a factory. In the so-called Randstad area (roughly speaking, the provinces North and South Holland and Utrecht), prices tend to be higher than in the rest of the country.
Who can help with what?
- Netherlands Chamber of Commerce KVK: a public service provider that helps business owners run their businesses successfully.
- The Netherlands Enterprise Agency (Rijksdienst voor Ondernemend Nederland, RVO) is an executive body of the Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate. It helps business owners run sustainable, agricultural, innovative or international businesses.
- Netherlands Foreign Investment Agency (NFIA) helps and advises foreign companies on the establishment, rolling out and expansion of their international activities in the Netherlands.
- Higher Level: a forum for and by entrepreneurs, this website offers advice and help 24/7 for all your business questions. The website is partly available in English, and this facility will be extended in future.
- Regional Development Agencies, RDAs (regionale ontwikkelingsmaatschappijen, ROMs) help entrepreneurs with innovation, investments and internationalisation. There are eight RDAs in the Netherlands.