Working as an operator in the sex industry

Published by:
Netherlands Chamber of Commerce, KVK
Netherlands Chamber of Commerce, KVK

Do you want to start a business in the sex industry? If you are 21 years or older, you may work as an operator. You must register with the Netherlands Chamber of Commerce KVK, pay income tax, and periodically submit a VAT return. You may also need to apply for a permit.

When can you work as an operator in the Netherlands?

If you are 21 or older, you may work in the Netherlands as an operator in the sex industry. For example, a prostitution company (escort company or erotic massage parlour), or a sex cinema.

You are not from an EU country

Are you from a country outside the European Union? And do you want to work as an independent operator in the sex industry in the Netherlands? Then you must have a valid residence permit allowing residence for a self-employed professional or a residence permit including the endorsement 'Work is freely permitted' (Arbeid is vrij toegestaan). See what applies to you if you move to the Netherlands to work as a self-employed person.

Only if the work is voluntary

Sex work is a legal profession in the Netherlands. But it is illegal for an operator to force a sex worker into prostitution. This is a punishable offence. Does the client know that the sex worker is forced? Then the client is also punishable. Download the Dutch government publication ‘Prostitution and exploitation’ (pdf) for information on exploitation, forms of help, and rights.

Make a business plan

Prepare a business plan in which you describe your plans. This way you can see whether your plans are feasible. Many municipalities only give you an operating permit if you present a good business plan. Describe what you have arranged for:

  • supervision
  • hygiene
  • health
  • independence of sex workers
  • combating human trafficking
  • safety,
  • working conditions
  • limiting public nuisance

In your plan, you should also describe how you set the rental price for a room.

Start as an operator

Every entrepreneur who starts his own business in the Netherlands has to arrange a number of things. This also applies to operators. Choose a legal form for the business. You register a sole proprietorship or general partnership with KVK yourself. To set up a bv, you must go to a notary.

1. Prepare your registration at the Netherlands Chamber of Commerce KVK

Before you register with KVK, you can already fill out a registration form. You must enter a private address and a visiting address. You also need a citizen service number and a company name. Read more about registration at KVK.

2. Register your company with KVK

You must register your company in the Business Register of KVK. KVK passes on your details to the Netherlands Tax Administration. You do not have to register your company separately with the tax authorities. If the Tax Administration records you as an entrepreneur for VAT, you will receive your turnover tax number and your VAT identification number (VAT ID).

3. Apply for a permit

The municipality determines whether you can establish your sex business. If this is allowed, then conditions apply. In many municipalities you must apply for a license to operate sexual services. There are strict rules for this, because you must ensure that sex workers work in a healthy and safe environment. Check in your municipality which requirements you must meet. The municipality determines where you can start a sex business and where you cannot.

4. Pay VAT

You charge VAT to your customers. You must pay this VAT to the tax authorities, usually quarterly. Before you do that, you may set off the VAT paid by you on business expenses. You pay the remainder or ask for it back.

5. Pay tax on your profit

At the end of a calendar year, you can determine the profit from your company. You file a return and pay income tax. Check whether you qualify for the SME profit exemption or the entrepreneur's allowance.

6. Keep good business records

You are obliged to keep your own business records of your income and expenses if you are self-employed. So, make sure that your business records meet the requirements. For example, you must clearly show how much tax you have to pay or how much VAT you will get back.

Your obligations as an operator

Your sex workers can work in two ways: according to the package of terms and conditions or by becoming an employee. Both of these ways have obligations for you as an operator.

Working according to the conditions package

There are also sex workers who prefer not to work as an employee or an independent prostitute. In that case, you can 'work according to the package of terms and conditions' (voorwaardenpakket). You must then meet certain conditions. One of these conditions is that you use the opting-in scheme (in Dutch). This is an intermediate form of self-employment and salaried employment. As an operator, you have to apply the same rules for payroll deductions as for employment.

Do you have a stettlement agreement with the Tax Administration and are allowed to operate under the package of terms and conditions? Then you deduct payroll tax, social security contributions, and the healthcare insurance contribution from the sex worker's pay. You must pay this to the Tax Administration. You do not have to pay the employee insurance contributions. The sex worker is allowed to participate in pension schemes and employee savings schemes.

Working as an employee

If you employ a sex worker, make sure you have a written employment contract. You must record agreements on salary, location, and number of hours per day or week. Both you and the sex worker sign the agreement. A copy is for the sex worker.

You have the following financial obligations towards your sex worker:

  • You pay at least the legal minimum wage and holiday allowance. The amount of the minimum wage changes twice a year.
  • You must give a pay slip to your worker. Whenever the wage amount or deductions change, you must do this, so that your sex worker knows what is changing.
  • If you provide accommodation to the sex worker, you may withhold up to 20% of the gross minimum wage for this purpose. You may also deduct health insurance costs paid by you (if any) up to a maximum of 10% of the gross minimum wage. You may not deduct more.
  • You must continue to pay the salary if your sex worker is ill.
  • You continue to pay your sex worker during a holiday period of at least 4 weeks a year.
  • You cannot simply dismiss a sex worker.
  • You only give the sex worker work for which you hired them.
  • If you have an on-call contract with one of your sex workers, you are obliged to pay out at least 3 hours per call. Even if you only have work for 1 or 2 hours.
  • In case of pregnancy, your sex worker is entitled to 16 weeks of paid maternity leave. UWV will pay you the sex worker's wages as compensation.

You provide a healthy and safe working environment

Your sex workers have the right to work healthily and safely (in Dutch). You offer at least the following:

  • You have a safe sex policy; you therefore do not advertise with unprotected sex and you allow checks by the Municipal Health Service (Gemeentelijke Gezondheidsdienst, GGD).
  • The space you offer to the sex worker must be clean. There must be washing facilities and there must be enough clean towels.
  • You must ensure that your sex worker does not run any risks with the clients. You must be able to offer help that is available immediately. This also applies to scort services. The workplace must be safe even if it is, for example, a client's home).
  • If you employ staff, a risk inventory and evaluation (RI&E) is mandatory. You are obliged to ensure that your employees can work safely and healthily.
  • There are legal rules about working and rest times. The employee is entitled to one and a half days off per week (or 3 days off in 2 weeks). There must be enough breaks. The working time is limited to a maximum of 12 hours per day and a maximum of 48 hours on average per week.

Questions relating to this article?

Please contact the Netherlands Chamber of Commerce, KVK