Working as an operator in the sex industry

This information is provided by

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.

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, and limiting nuisance. In your plan, also provide an explanation of the rental price of 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 Tax Administration. You do not have to register your company separately with the tax authorities. If the Tax and Customs 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 at what location 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 duties as an operator

If you hire a sex worker, you must provide a written employment contract. You are obliged to make agreements about salary, location, and number of hours per day or week. Both you and the sex worker sign the agreement. One copy is for the sex worker.

Inquire about the age limit for a prostitute at your municipality

A sex worker must be at least 18 years of age or older. However, in most cities the age limit for a prostitute to work in the prostitution sector is 21 .Inquire in advance at your municipality.

1. 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 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.
  • ou 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. Even when it comes to an escort, this means that it is safe at the workplace (for example at 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.

2. You pay a minimum salary

You have the following financial obligations to your sex worker:
  • You pay at least the statutory minimum wage and holiday allowance. The level of the minimum wage changes twice a year.
  • You must give your employee a payslip. You must do this with any change in the wage amount or deductions, so that your sex worker knows what is changing.
  • If you offer the sex worker housing, you may deduct a maximum of 20% of the gross minimum wage. You may also deduct the costs (if any) for health insurance that you have paid up to a maximum of 10% of the gross minimum wage. You may not withhold more than that.
  • 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 per year.
  • You cannot just fire a sex worker.
  • You only give the sex worker work for which you have hired them.
  • If you have an on-call contract with one of your sex workers, you are obliged to pay at least 3 hours per call. Even if you only have work for 1 or 2 hours.
  • During pregnancy, your sex worker is entitled to 16 weeks of paid maternity leave. UWV pays you the sex worker's wages as compensation.

Working according to the conditions

There are sex workers who prefer not to work as an employee or as an independent prostitute. Then the operator and the sex worker can agree to 'work according to the conditions'. You must meet the conditions. One of those conditions is that you use the opting-in scheme. If you are allowed to work in accordance with the conditions, you withhold wage tax/national insurance contributions and the healthcare insurance premium from the sex worker's wages. You must pay this to the tax authorities. You do not have to pay the employee insurance premiums. The sex worker may also participate in pension schemes and employee savings schemes.

Note: As an operator, you must have a prostitution settlement agreement (in Dutch) with the Tax Administration to work via the conditions. Opting-in does not apply if a sex worker works as an independent entrepreneur.

What if you do not comply with your duties?

If you underpay your sex workers or if you have an unhealthy or unsafe working environment, the sex worker can report this to the Netherlands Labour Authority (NLA). The NLA may also initiate an investigation.

Questions relating to this article?

Please contact the Netherlands Chamber of Commerce, KVK

This information is provided by

Netherlands Chamber of Commerce, KVK