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Providing services outside the EU

This information is provided by:Tax and Customs Administration, BelastingdienstTax and Customs Administration, BelastingdienstNetherlands Enterprise Agency RVONetherlands Enterprise Agency RVO

You want to provide a service in a country outside the EU. You want to do so from the Netherlands or in your client's country. In some cases, you will need a visa or permit. It is also smart to always check local customs, laws, and regulations before you start working in another country. This article can help you prepare for your activities.

Find out if you need a visa

For some countries, you may need a visa to visit. You can check this with the embassy or consulate of the country you will be providing your services in. This is also where you can apply for your visa and hear which conditions you will have to meet.

Also check with them how many months your passport needs to be valid for.

Matters to take into account

  • Make sure you are aware of the local customs and regulations in the country where you are going; they may be quite different from what you would expect. Check the dos and don’ts (in Dutch).
  • Draw up general terms and conditions
  • If you want to provide strategic services, you will have to apply for a permit first. Strategic services include: repair or maintenance of military equipment. Or certain software.
  • Also check:
    • if you need any permits
    • if there are any special diploma or qualification requirements
    • if you need to arrange any insurances
    • if you need to pay any social insurance premiums (for your personnel or yourself, if you are emigrating)

Use the VAT tool

If you do business with a registered company, it is quite likely that you will have to file VAT returns in your client’s country. If your customer is a private citizen, this is less likely. The tax authority in your customer’s country can tell you if and how you need to file VAT returns there.

If you speak Dutch, you can use the Tax and Customs Administration tool Diensten in en uit het buitenland to find out where and how to declare and pay VAT on your earnings. If you don't understand Dutch well enough, you can contact the Tax Information Line for assistance.

Arrange a temporary import of goods

Do you need certain goods to perform your services abroad, for instance: a laptop, a musical instrument, or promotional material? Then you will have to arrange for a temporary import outside the EU. You will probably have to pay import duties twice, once when entering the other country and once upon your return to the Netherlands. You can prevent having to pay twice:

  1. Apply for a licence for temporary import and export at the Customs office. With this, you will not have to pay import duties upon your return to the Netherlands, and the other country will often settle for a deposit.
  2. Apply for an ATA carnet at the Netherlands Chamber of Commerce. This international customs document arranges the temporary export and import of your goods in one go. In many countries outside the EU, an ATA carnet exempts you from paying duties, VAT, or deposits. It is not available for every country or for every situation. You also pay processing costs when you apply for an ATA carnet.
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