Legal matters in international business

Published by:
Netherlands Chamber of Commerce, KVK
Netherlands Chamber of Commerce, KVK
Netherlands Enterprise Agency RVO
Netherlands Enterprise Agency RVO

When you do business with a foreign business partner, make sure you document what you have agreed upon. This can take the form of a contract, your general conditions, and delivery conditions. Then the rights and obligations are clear to everyone. When doing business internationally, you may also have to deal with rules around, for example, privacy, product safety, and intellectual property.

Making an international quotation

If you are going to buy or sell products, you often get or make a quotation first. A quotation contains, for example, information about:

If you or your customer agrees to the quotation and signs it, this is an agreement.

Read more about an international quotation and what it should contain on

Record your agreements in a contract

A contract records the agreements you and your business partner enter upon in a legally binding form. For example, who will be liable for product transport. It makes clear the rights and duties of both parties. A sound contract gives you certainty, and helps to prevent conflicts. It reduces your entrepreneurial risk.

See what dealing with a contract entails. And read how to check your foreign business partner, for example, if they conduct business honestly.

Contents of an international contract

In the international contract you describe:

  • the product or service
  • the price
  • acceptance by the customer
  • which jurisdiction applies
  • which judge has the authority to act in case of disputes. Considerable differences exist from country to country.

Consult a lawyer about the precise content of the contract.

Include international delivery terms

Clearly set out the delivery terms in your contract. You do this using the ICC Incoterms®2020. If you have been using the ICC Incoterms®2010, you can continue to do so. They remain valid. When using the international delivery conditions ICC Incoterms® 2020 you know:

  • who is responsible for arranging transport
  • who is responsible for the costs associated with transport
  • who bears the risk of damage to or loss of the goods during carriage

Also put the Incoterms® in your contract.

Draw up general conditions

Do you want the same rules to apply to all your offers and contracts? Then draw up general conditions. These are your terms and conditions that apply by default to, for example, payment, delivery time and warranty. Check whether your terms and conditions are also valid for the sale of your product or service in the other country. And arrange for a translation. Send your terms and conditions along with your offer and contract. And refer to them in these documents.

Do you import products made under private label? If so, register your trademark, your brand. This prevents others from abusing your trademark. Private label means that another company makes the products and you market them under your own brand name. Do you sell your products abroad? Then you can protect the brand name of your own product internationally.

Product requirements and liability

Review the product requirements when exporting and importing. Even when you have inspection certificates. If the product you market is faulty, you are liable for the damage it causes. If you are the liable party, you may have to face financial claims. Check with your insurer how to keep your risk within acceptable limits. This product liability applies only to importers. Not for commercial agents.

Protect your intellectual property

If you launch a new or unique product on the international market, you do not want others to copy it. As a precautionary measure, you can protect your intellectual property when exporting your product. If the invention is your own, you can apply for a patent for your product. The Netherlands Patent Office (NPO) offers valuable information on how to protect your invention in your export country.

Comply with the GDPR

If you do business in or with an EU country, supplier or customer, you have to comply with the General Data Protection Regulation. The step-by-step guide will tell you what to do.

Questions relating to this article?

Please contact the Netherlands Chamber of Commerce, KVK