Checklist for starting a childcare centre

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

If you intend to start a childcare organisation (nursery, daycare or after school care facility) in the Netherlands, you must comply with various government rules and regulations. You can use this checklist to quickly determine which obligations you must fulfil.

Before you register at the Registration in National Childcare Register

Without a registration in the Registration in National Childcare Register (LRK) you cannot open a childcare centre. So, start by arranging the things you need get your LRK registration. It takes 10-13 weeks to complete the application. Note: If you start a childcare centre and a centre for out-of-school care, then you need separate forms.

Find out what you need to arrange

This checklist serves merely as a guideline. Several steps can be carried out at the same time. Consult your local municipality regarding the order of the steps.

1. Check whether you fulfil the conditions for staying in the Netherlands

Entrepreneurs who intend to stay in the Netherlands must fulfil a number of conditions. If you are from outside the European Economic Area (EEA), you may require a residence permit. Our interactive tool Coming to the Netherlands as an entrepreneur can help you find out quickly if this is true for you, and tell you what other obligations you have to fulfil.

If you plan to start doing business in the Netherlands, you will also need to have or apply for a business bank account (international bank account number, IBAN). The Dutch Banking Association has created a Quick Scan to help you find out if you are eligible. Read how it works.

2. Choose the right location for your childcare centre

Have you found a suitable location? Make sure it is in line with your municipality’s environment plan. And check which permits you will need. Is your location not suitable for childcare, according to the environment plan? You can apply for an Environment and planning permit (omgevingsvergunning) to build, alter or renovate a building. Once you have the permit, you can apply to the municipality to change the environment plan. Do your plans involve demolishing an existing building? Then notify your municipality of your intentions. Is your building listed? Then you may not be allowed to alter or demolish it, and strict rules will apply to any renovation work you want to carry out.

3. Comply with furnishings and fittings requirements

You must provide enough rooms suitable for play and rest. These rooms must be geared to the number of children and their age.

4. Take fire safety measures for your business premises

Take sufficient measures to ensure fire safety in your childcare centre. If you operate a childcare centre for more than 10 children under the age of 12, you need an Environment and planning permit (omgevingsvergunning). You also need a permit for fire safety. If you do not have more than 10 children under the age of 12, you can submit a notification via the online service counter Omgevingsloket (in Dutch).

5. Hire qualified staff

Your staff must satisfy a number of professional requirements. The professional qualifications differ depending on the job. The website Kinderopvang Werkt (in Dutch) gives extensive information on the different qualifications. As the owner of the childcare centre, you don’t need a degree or certificate, but you must ensure responsible childcare. Are you unsure if your applicant or employee has the required qualifications? Use the online Diploma Check (in Dutch) to find out if their diploma is good enough. The collective labour agreement for childcare (caoKinderopvang, in Dutch) lays down the labour agreements for the entire childcare sector.

From 1 January 2025, all childcare professionals must have language level 3F (for speaking, listening and holding conversations). Moreover, some municipalities have the additional requirement of F2 for writing if you work for a pre-school education. You also need a certificate for working with babies. Read more about these changes on Rijksoverheid (in Dutch).

6. Calculate the professional childcarer – child ratio (bkr)

You can use the professional childcarer – child ratio calculator (rekentool beroepskracht-kindratio, in Dutch) to determine how many care professionals you need for the number of children per age group.You need to comply with the 4-eyes principle. This means that there is always an adult to listen or watch along with the employee.

7. Apply for an eHerkenning

Apply for eHerkenning with level 3 (EH3). This is necessary to log into the Register for persons active in the childcare sector (PRK).

8. Make sure there are always enough employees with a first aid certificate for children present

There must always be at least one adult present during opening hours in possession of a first aid certificate for children. Make sure enough of your employees have such a certificate.

9. Allocate mentors

Appoint a mentor to every child. The mentor is a member of your pedagogical staff, who monitors the child’s development and who is the contact person for the parents.They are always present when the child is present.

10. Provide a maximum number of familiar faces

In childcare, you are allowed to expose the children to a maximum number of familiar faces. This is called the familiar-face criterion. Make sure you know how many familiar faces you are allowed per child in your facility.

11. Apply for a certificates of good conduct

To set up a childcare centre, you need a certificate of good conduct for legal entities (VoGrp). You need this to demonstrate the integrity of your enterprise and employees in key positions. All employees of the childcare centre must be in possession of a certificate of good conduct for individuals (VoGnp).

12. Enroll in the childcare staff register

Anyone working or living at a place where children are cared for must register in the Persons active in the childcare sector (Personenregister kinderopvang, PRK). These persons are checked regularly. For example, for criminal offences.

13. Register with the Dutch Business Register and Tax Administration

You must register your business in KVK's Business Register. KVK will pass on your details to the Tax Administration, who will issue you with a VAT identification number, to use for correspondence and invoices to your customers, and a VAT number, to use for your dealings with the Tax Administration. You will receive these numbers from the Tax Administration by post.

14. Draw up a pedagogical policy plan

In your pedagogical policy plan, you outline your vision for the childcare you want to offer and how employees should behave around children. The plan must be up-to-date. Adapt the plan if either the circumstances in your childcare facility, or your views on topics in the pedagogical policy plan change.You send the pedagogical policy plan along with your application to the Registration in National Childcare Register (LRK).

15. Employ a pedagogic professional or coach

Every childcare organisation needs to employ at least one pedagogic professional, a pedagogic coach or a combination of both. The pedagogic professional / coach coaches the childcare professionals in their daily practice. The pedagogic professional also develops the pedagogical policy. You can find out the requirements for this pedagogic professional or coach on the (Dutch) Kinderopvang werkt! website.

16. Draw up a health and safety policy

Make sure you have an up-to-date health and safety policy, drawn up, implemented and evaluated by all parties concerned. In a policy Safety and Health (V&G beleid) you describe how employees should work in the childcare centre. Main requirements for this include strategies for dealing with some of the major risks for children’s health and safety, describing the four-eyes principle, and methods used to reduce the risk of transgressive behaviour. You do this together with the parents committee.

17. Conduct a health and safety risk inventory

Before submitting an application for your facility to be registered in the National Childcare Register (LRK), you must conduct a health and safety risk inventory. For this purpose, you are advised to use the Risk Monitor (in Dutch). You then conduct this risk inventory every year.

18. Register your centre in the National Childcare Register

At least 10 weeks before the start of your childcare centre, you must apply for registration in the National Childcare Register (LRK) with the municipal authorities. If you offer daycare as well as out-of-school care, you must apply for two separate registrations. You must enclose proof of your registration in the KVK's Business Register, your pedagogical policy plan, and the certificates of good conduct for each of the childcare facility’s employees. Once you have submitted your application, it will be reviewed. This can take 13 weeks. When it is complete, an inspector of the Municipal Health Service (GGD) will review the quality of your childcare facility. Based on the outcome, the municipality will decide whether your facility will be included in the register. The GGD is quite strict.

19. Draw up regulations for the parents' committee

For each location you must have a parents' committee. You must adopt the parent committee regulations within 6 months of submitting an application to be included in the National Childcare Register to your municipal authority. This document has to be drawn up in Dutch. You can use a model agreement (in Dutch) provided by the Parents in Childcare Interests’ Association (BoinK) and the Childcare sector organisation.

20. Join the Childcare Disputes Committee

You have to join the Childcare Disputes Committee and register all of your childcare centre locations. You must also inform the parents and parents committee about your joining the Committee.

21. Use the notification code for responding to child abuse

The notification code for domestic violence and child abuse describes 5 steps you have to take when you or your employees suspect child abuse. If there is a suspicion of acute or structural danger, you have to report it via the Veilig Thuis website.

22. Observe your duty to inform the parents

Important changes are taking place in the Dutch childcare sector. Not only do you have to stay on top of what these changes are, you also have a duty to inform the parents of the children to whom you offer childcare. That is called obligation to give information (informatieplicht).Keep up-to-date with relevant changes (in Dutch) on the Dutch government website.

Statistics: enterprises in child day-care

Number of enterprises in child day-care

Questions relating to this article?

Please contact the Netherlands Enterprise Agency, RVO