Do you intend to start a shop in the Netherlands? Starting a shop may not be as simple as you might think. As an entrepreneur, there are many factors you need to take into consideration. What products do you want to sell? Who will be your clients? Where do you want your shop to be located? Is there a market for your products? Which rules and regulations do you have to comply with?
This checklist guides you through the steps of starting a shop in the Netherlands. It is possible that you will need to fulfil other obligations as well. Consult your local municipality regarding the order of the steps. Several steps can be carried out at the same time.
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1. Check whether you fulfil the conditions for staying in the NetherlandsEntrepreneurs who intend to stay in the Netherlands must fulfil a number of conditions. You will sometimes also require a residence permit, depending on whether or not you are from the European Economic Area (EEA).
2. Write a business planA business plan is not mandatory, however, it is recommended. It summarises the plans you have for your business and forces you to examine whether your plans are viable. Is there a market for your products? Who are your competitors? Who are you selling your products to? It is important to define your target group and to conduct market research before you write your marketing plan.
3. Financing your shopYour business plan also includes a financial plan. If you want to start a shop, you need financing. If you are looking for funding or additional capital, your financial plan may be used by financiers to analyse the viability of your business. Your financial plan includes the investments you will need to make and how you plan to finance them. You need to think about the turnover you expect to generate and if your business will be profitable. It also forces you to examine cash flow and whether you'll have enough cash each month. Based on this information, you may have a better view on the financing you might need.
4. Choose a trade nameIn order to have your business included in the Commercial Register, you will require a unique trade name (company name). If you are planning to set up a website, or sell your peroducts online, don’t forget to register your domain name.
5. Select a legal structureOwners of a new business must first select a legal structure (e.g. one-man business or a private limited company). The legal structure determines such issues as liability and tax obligations.
6. Register with the Netherlands Chamber of CommerceNew businesses must be registered with the Dutch Commercial Register. If you register as a sole proprietor or as a cooperative, they will issue you with a VAT number and pass on your details to the Dutch Tax and Customs Administration. You therefore do not need to register separately with them. If you decide to register as a limited company or association, you will need to register with the Tax Administration separately. See also Legal structures of business.
7. Regulations for your place of business
Building regulationsYour shop, or business premises as it is officially called, must comply with the building regulations. You will find these regulations in the Buildings Decree 2012 (Bouwbesluit 2012, in Dutch) as well as in your local building by-laws. You must also comply with building regulations and layout requirements that are relevant to your specific business activities. Moreover, if you plan to build, rebuild or renovate, in most cases you will need an All-in-one Permit for Physical Aspects (Omgevingsvergunning).
Zoning planIf you want to establish your business at a particular location in the Netherlands or if you plan to start a home business, your plan must be in line with the municipal zoning plan (bestemmingsplan). A zoning plan includes detailed rules on how a certain plot of land or area can be used.
Municipal taxesIn most cases a municipal tax is owed for the use of public land (officially, this is a tax on ‘encroachments on or above public land’, precariobelasting). You also have to pay this tax if you want to display articles for sale in the street. Make sure to consult your local municipality to receive more information about the rules and regulations that may apply within your municipality.
General Municipal By-Law (APV)
In Dutch municipalities, you will have to observe the General Municipal By-Law (Algemene Plaatselijke Verordening, APV). It lays down the municipal regulations with respect to public order and safety. Every municipal authority has its own APV, which is often made available via the municipal website. The regulations concerning the retail sector are:
- waste bins for food and drink
- usability of public roads
- opening and closing times
- noise pollution
- advertising and pamphlets
- work locations
- supervision of events
- shop displays
- shopping trolleys