Exporting to the Netherlands from outside the EU

Published by:
Netherlands Chamber of Commerce, KVK
Netherlands Chamber of Commerce, KVK
Statistics Netherlands, CBS
Statistics Netherlands, CBS
4 min read

Your company is based outside the EU, and you want to start selling your products on the Dutch market. How do you go about exporting products to the Netherlands? What do you need to take into account? This checklist provides you with practical information on taxes, Dutch and EU regulations and some tips.

What do you need to consider when exporting to the Netherlands from outside the EU?

In the Netherlands both national rules and EU rules apply. You will need to deal with customs, export duties, VAT, and transport. In addition there are rules in regard to products such as product safety, packing, and labeling.

Market research

When you want to export your products to the Netherlands, do market research to make sure there is a market for them. The Centre for the Promotion of Imports from developing countries offers market information about European countries (you do not have to be from a developing country to use this information). There is also the European Commission’s Access2Markets database.

Find an agent or distributor in the Netherlands

Have you thought about a way to distribute the goods? There are a few options:

To find the right partner to do business with, you can attend networking events, join business networks or conduct a search in the Dutch Business Register (in Dutch).

Import levies

When exporting goods to the Netherlands your client, or the importer pays various import levies (invoerheffing). The amount to be paid in import levies depends on the kind of product and the country of origin. You can find this information in the European Commission’s TARIC database.

Although you do not have to pay import levies yourself, your customer in the Netherlands may find the amount of levies an obstacle to buying your products. Take the amount due in levies into account when setting a price, and determining if you want to sell your goods on the EU market.

Customs declaration

When exporting products to the Netherlands from outside the EU, your representative inside the EU is usually responsible for lodging the customs declaration. This officially turns the products from non-EU goods to EU goods.

In some cases you can be responsible: for example, if you and your importer agree on the Incoterm® Delivered Duty Paid. The importer will have to follow Dutch and EU rules and regulations as laid out in the articles Importing products into the Netherlands: regulations and Importing goods from a non-EU country.


If you export goods to the Netherlands from a non-EU country, you will not have to charge VAT, unless you are also responsible for the import into the Netherlands. See also the EU pages on taxation and customs.

There is also the possibility that you export your goods to a branch of your company in the Netherlands. In that case, whether or not your branch office has to charge and pay VAT depends on whether it sells the goods to other companies or to private individuals. See the Netherlands Tax Administration information on the subject.

Getting paid – how to ensure you get your money

Especially if you work with an importer for the first time, you may want to make sure you will get paid for your products. There are several ways to increase that certainty, ranging from a letter of credit to advance payment. Also, it is of course common sense to check whether the party you are going to be doing business with is reliable and creditworthy. In the Netherlands, you can check the Dutch Business Register (Handelsregister) to find details on the company you are dealing with.


When setting up a collaboration with an agent or distributor, it is wise to document your agreement in a written contract. Make use of the ICC Incoterms®. These are international standards for goods transport, to cover for instance:

  • Who arranges the transport from where to where
  • Who is responsible for transport insurance, licences, documents and customs procedures
  • At what point does the transport liability transfers from seller to buyer.

N.B.: The most recent version of the Incoterms is Incoterms® 2020. If you have been using the ICC Incoterms® 2010, you can continue to do so. They remain valid.

CE marking, labelling and other EU regulations

When preparing your product for the Dutch market, you have to take into account several product requirements: both Dutch and EU ones. There are regulations for:

Packaging and waste

The party importing your products to the Netherlands will have to contribute to the disposal of the packaging waste. Depending on the materials used, this contribution may be sizeable. Make sure you use an eco-friendly packaging material, if possible, and discuss packaging with your agent or supplier.

Transport documents

When exporting goods to the Netherlands, you will have to provide several export documents to your national customs: an invoice, a packing list and a transport document.

If there is a trade agreement between your country and the EU, you can include a certificate of origin or an EUR.1 or EUR-MED certificate. These provide the importer with a discount or exemption from import duties.

You may need additional documents if you export foodstuffs, plants or animals, or cultural or strategic goods, for example, a licence or a health certificate. Your national chamber of commerce can help you find out which export documents you need to transport your goods to the Netherlands.

Statistics: import of goods

Total import value of goods from non-EU countries

Questions relating to this article?

Please contact the Netherlands Chamber of Commerce, KVK