Providing services in a country outside the EU is usually permitted, although in some cases you do need a visa or permit. In addition, it is good to always check local customs, laws and regulations before you start working in another country.This article can help you prepare for your activities.
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Find out if you need a visa or permit
Depending on how long you will be staying and on the country you will be visiting, you may need a visa or residence permit. You may need a work permit as well. Check with the embassy or consulate of the country you will be providing your services in which conditions you will have to meet and how you can apply for the correct visa and permits. Usually, you can apply for the visa in the embassy or consulate.
Find out if there are special demands on your passport validity
Countries outside the EU only accept a valid passport as proof of identity. Also, there are quite a few countries that demand that the expiration date on your passport is some months after arrival or departure. You can find more information on the requirements in your country of choice at the embassy or consulate.
Trade agreementsWhen doing business with a country outside the EU, there might be a trade agreement in place. The EU has trade agreements in place with many different (groups of) countries. In general, they make trade easier and lower import duties and trade barriers. But there can be specific conditions that you need to meet in order for you or your client or supplier in that third country to benefit. Also there can agreements about product quality, intellectual property, market access or documents that are to be used. Read more about trade agreements and how you can benefit from them.
Check where to file your VAT-returns
If you do business with a registered company, it is quite likely that you will have to file VAT-returns in your customer’s country. If your customer is a private citizen, this is less likely. The tax administration 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 tools ‘Diensten in en uit het buitenland’ or ‘Digitale diensten in en uit het buitenland’(for digital services) 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.
Tip! Find out if you can get a VAT refund
The tax administration in the country you do business in can tell you if you can get a VAT refund, and how to go about requesting it.
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’ll 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:
- Apply for a licence for temporary import and export at the Customs office. With this, you won’t have to pay import duties upon your return to the Netherlands, and the other country will often settle for a deposit.
- Apply for an ATA carnet at the Netherlands Chamber of Commerce. An ATA carnet is a type of passport for your goods. In many countries outside the EU an ATA carnet makes you exempt from paying duties, VAT or deposits.
Some words of advice
- Make sure you are aware of the local customs and regulations in the country where you’re going; they may be quite different from what you’d expect. Check the do’s and don’ts (in Dutch).
- 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.
- Draw up general terms and conditions