Starting to export

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

Are you running a business in or from the Netherlands, and does your product or service have cross-border potential? To find out, you need to do some research first, followed by careful planning and preparation. Discover which countries are suitable as sales markets for your product or service.

Use checklists

Use guides and checklists. A proper checklist helps you consider the most important matters, while a guide enables you to draw up an export plan.

How does exporting fit into your business?

Exporting is not something you do on the side. You must ask yourself whether exporting suits your business. Does it fit into your company mission statement? Does export match your view of the future and the chosen strategy? Is your product suitable for export? Are your staff sufficiently educated and motivated?

Write an export plan

An export plan helps to turn your ideas into reality. The Netherlands Chamber of Commerce (KVK) provides a template for export plans. You need to answer questions like ‘Why do I want to export?’ ‘Can I handle the production demands?‘ ‘What do I need to do for transport and insurance?’’ ‘Who is my competition?’ 'What price can I ask for my product?". The answers to these questions will produce a detailed plan, which you can use as your starting point.

Do market research

Market research is essential to assess whether there is enough interest and whether your export goals can be achieved. You can also commission an external market research company to do part of or all the research for you.

No doubt you have certain ideas about the countries you want to trade with: should they be near the Netherlands, or does it not matter? What should the purchasing power per head of the population be? There are many considerations, and only you know which ones are important for you.

Compare markets and check country information

Various factors determine which countries have the most suitable markets for your products. Discover the right markets by researching the Netherlands Enterprise Agency’s market information per country (in Dutch) and compare the countries you are interested in on the basis of a number of criteria, for example:

  • business opportunities and the market
  • the disposable average income of the population
  • import tariffs (only outside the European Union)
  • product requirements and other rules.

On the Netherlands Enterprise Agency website, you can find further information on international markets, for instance:

  • economic predictions
  • import and export figures
  • foreign investments per product.

The CBI (part of the Netherlands Enterprise Agency) gives you market information on exports to Europe, or you can consult the European Commission's Access2Markets to find tariffs, customs procedures, product requirements and more for your export destination.

Financing exports

There are several options for financing your export plans. For instance, a bank can request a partial government SME loan guarantee. Check the Support International Business programme. If you are thinking about exporting to developing countries, you can apply to the Dutch Good Growth Fund; and the Dutch government provides assistance to SME exporters to developed countries through the Dutch Trade and Invest Fund.


In many cases, especially if you are exporting to a country outside the EU, you will be dealing with customs procedures. Also, depending on what type of product you are exporting, you may have to pay excise duties or present a certificate of origin. The Customs Administration of the Netherlands has an overview of all the authorisations, permits, agreements, and so on, that you may need if you want to export from the Netherlands. You can also consult the European Commission's Access2Markets to find customs procedures for your export destination.

Exporting through intermediaries

You can export your product yourself, but you can also make use of intermediaries. The advantages and disadvantages of exporting directly or indirectly depend on your situation, your product and the requirements of the foreign market.

Get advice

Both the Netherlands Enterprise Agency RVO and the Netherlands Chamber of Commerce KVK offer starting or inexperienced exporting companies support and advice. Get in touch with them if you want to ask for personal help:

Statistics: export development

Value of goods exported to other countries.

Questions relating to this article?

Please contact the Netherlands Chamber of Commerce, KVK