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If you intend to start a hotel, restaurant or cafe in the Netherlands, there are various government rules and regulations to take into account. Use this checklist to quickly determine what you have to do.
This checklist is only a guideline. You may need to fulfil other obligations, for instance to get local permits. For further information, contact your local council, the Netherlands Chamber of Commerce (KVK) or the Royal Dutch Hotel and Catering Association (Koninklijke Horeca Nederland, KHN, in Dutch).
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. You will sometimes also 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 (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 your business premises and inspect the local zoning plan
Your business premises must be in line with the zoning plan for that specific area. If this is not the case, however, you can apply for an exemption. You could also ask the local council to change the zoning plan.
3. Apply for a building permit
If you want to build, make alterations to or renovate a building, you will normally need an All-in-one Permit for Physical Aspects (Omgevingsvergunning). This used to be called a building permit.
4. Consider fire safety requirements
In order to ensure fire safety in your catering establishment, you often need an occupancy permit (part of the All-in-one Permit for Physical Aspects, omgevingsvergunning). In some cases, a notification of occupancy will suffice.
5. Consider environmental rules
Catering business owners must contend with a range of environmental guidelines. In most cases it is not necessary to apply for an All-in-one Permit for Physical Aspects (Omgevingsvergunning). Registering your company with your local municipality is sufficient.
6. Apply for an operating permit for a catering business
In certain municipalities you may need an operating permit for a catering establishment. The conditions address public order, safety and decency.
7. Register your food business with NVWA
If your company manufactures, processes or sells food products, you must register your business with NVWA.
8. Draw up a hygiene code or use an approved one
If you prepare food and drink, you must work according to a hygiene code. You can draw up one yourself or comply with a certified hygiene code (e.g. the code of the Hotel and Catering Industry Board). All hygiene codes must be based on the European HACCP principles. If you work in accordance with an approved hygiene code for your sector, you automatically fulfil the legal requirements.
9. Apply for a licence to serve alcoholic or non-alcoholic beverages
If alcoholic beverages are sold and consumed in your catering business, you must have an alcohol licence from your local municipality (Licensing and Catering Act). To sell non-alcoholic beverages, you need a food and drink permit.
10. Apply for a terrace permit
If you intend to run a terrace on your private property or in a public space, you often need a terrace permit from the municipality. A terrace is only permitted as part of an existing hotel and catering establishment.
11. Apply for a gaming machine permit
You need a gaming machine permit from your local municipality to install a game-of-chance machine in your catering establishment.
12. Apply for music performance licences
You need permission to play music in a public place. Buma and Sena regulate this permission by issuing licences.
13. Draw up a risk inventory and evaluation
If you employ staff, you must draw up a risk inventory and evaluation (RI&E) before you open your catering business. You can use the hotel and catering RI&E (Horeca RI&E) model for this purpose.
14. Register with the Dutch Commercial Register and Dutch Tax Administration
New businesses must register with the Dutch Commercial Register at the Netherlands Chamber of Commerce. If your legal structure is a sole proprietorship or partnership, the Chamber of Commerce will pass on your details to the Dutch Tax and Customs Administration. You will not need to register separately with them. If you have chosen a private limited company or public limited company as your legal structure, your registration at both the KVK and the Dutch Tax and Customs Administration will be handled by a civil-law notary.
Sole proprietors: VAT number procedure changes as of 1 January 2020
Do you want to start as a sole proprietor (eenmanszaak)? In that case, from 1 January 2020 onwards, the Tax and Customs Administration will issue your VAT number when you register at the Chamber of Commerce. When you register with the Commercial Register, the Chamber of Commerce will forward your registration to the Tax Administration, and they will process this to provide you with your VAT number. This may take up to five days. Before 1 January 2020, the Chamber of Commerce issued you with your VAT number directly when you registered your business. The change in procedure is necessary to protect sole proprietors' privacy; prior to the change, the VAT number was linked to the private citizen service number (BSN). Personal data were freely available in the Commercial Register. The Data Protection Authority (Autoriteit Persoonsbescherming) has ruled that this is a violation of the GDPR. If you were already registered as a sole proprietor with your citizen service number before 1 January 2020, the Tax Administration will issue you with a new VAT number. You don't have to undertake any action.
Statistics: turnover development accommodation and food serving
Accommodation and food serving includes businesses in accommodation, restaurants and bars. The turnover development is shown as an index number. It reflects how the turnover has changed compared to the base year (2015). For example, an index number of 120 means that the turnover is 1.2 times as large as in the base year 2015. Or, 20% has been added compared to 2015.