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Owners of a new business in the Netherlands must observe various government and other rules. This checklist tells you which general obligations you must fulfil when starting a business.
This checklist is merely a guideline, as your specific situation may require you to fulfil other obligations as well. Please be sure to consult the sector information for your business sector for additional requirements and information. Or consult one of the sector-specific checklists on this website. Also, we have listed the most important rules and regulations for self-employed professionals (zzp’ers), student entrepreneurs and entrepreneurs under the age of 18.
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 (see Coming to the Netherlands – Identity documents and qualifications, Permits and visa and Living in the Netherlands). If you are not an EU citizen, you will also need to apply for a temporary and permanent residence permit simultaneously.
2. Different starting points
You may be starting your business as an innovative startup, from an unemployment benefit, a job, or as a student or minor. Find out what specific conditions apply to your situation.
3. Select a legal form
Owners of a new business must first select a legal form (e.g. one-man business or a private limited company). The legal form determines such issues as liability and tax obligations.
4. Select a trade name
In order to have your business included in the Commercial Register, you will require a trade name (company name).
5. Register with the Dutch Commercial Register and Dutch Tax Administration
New businesses must register with the Dutch Commercial Register at the Chamber of Commerce. They are then issued with a VAT-number, so they don’t have to register with the Dutch Tax Administration separately.
6.Register as an employer for payroll taxes and social security
7. Check whether you require certain professional qualifications
You do not usually require a separate qualification to establish a business in the Netherlands. However, for certain professions you do require professional qualifications.
8. Consult the zoning plan with regard to your business location
If you plan to establish your business at a particular location, this choice of location must be in line with the municipal zoning plan. If this is not the case, however, you can apply for an All-in-one Permit for Physical Aspects (Omgevingsvergunning) to carry out your plans. You can also ask the municipality to change the zoning plan.
9. Consider environmental regulations
If your business operations will have an impact on the environment, you must submit a notification of environmental management to your local municipality. Sometimes you must also apply for an All-in-one Permit for Physical Aspects (Omgevingsvergunning).
10. Consider fire safety requirements for your business premises
If you occupy a business property, you have to take measures to ensure fire safety. In most cases you must submit a notification of occupancy to your local municipality. If your business has a higher fire risk, you must also apply for an All-in-one Permit for Physical Aspects (Omgevingsvergunning).
11. Report a home business
If you plan to run a business from your home, you are normally obliged to report this plan to your local municipality. You must also bear in mind various tax and mortgage issues.
12. Apply for an All-in-one Permit for Physical Aspects for building activities
If you want to build, make alterations to or renovate your business premises, you will normally need an All-in-one Permit for Physical Aspects (Omgevingsvergunning). You can obtain this permit from your local municipality.
13. Describe your business’s general terms and conditions
General terms and conditions clarify your and your customers’ rights and duties. You are not required to draw them up, but they are useful to have. Make your customers aware of your general terms and conditions.
14. Create your business accounts
As you often incur expenses before the official launch of your business, make certain to create your business accounts in a timely manner. In the Netherlands, you are legally obliged to maintain accounts and to retain them for seven years.
15. Check whether you need insurance
If you live in the Netherlands or earn income here, you are obliged to take out health insurance. You are also obliged to pay Dutch national insurance contributions. Additionally, there are several ways to insure your business’s assets in the event of legal liability or any other any other risk you can’t afford to cover.
16. Personal data processing
As of 25 May 2018, the processing and storage of personal data is regulated by the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) (Algemene Verordening Gegevensbescherming, (AVG) in Dutch). Read our GDPR step-by-step guide.
Several government organisations support you when starting your own business:
- The Chamber of Commerce (KVK) provides information on creating a business plan and carrying out market research as well as other issues. They will provide you with the addresses and telephone numbers of all local offices.
- You will find information about, for example, the investment climate in the Netherlands, the sectors that offer the most opportunities and the possibilities of finding local business partners on the Holland Trade and Invest website.
- The Dutch Tax and Customs Administration offers you information about which taxes you have to pay and how to keep your accounts up to date. It is possible that you are entitled to special schemes.
- The business coaches of Qredits Microfinanciering Nederland give you advice and assist you in starting up your business. They help you write your business plan.
- Statistics Netherlands (Centraal Bureau voor de Statistiek, CBS) offers statistical information about districts where you can establish your business. CBS has collected sector-specific information that could be interesting for you as an entrepreneur.
Statistics: enterprise births
Number of enterprise births.