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Government information for entrepreneurs

How to start a business in the Netherlands - a checklist

This information is provided by

Netherlands Chamber of Commerce, KVK | Netherlands Enterprise Agency, RVO | Statistics Netherlands organisation, CBS

If you want to set up a new business in the Netherlands, you must observe various government and other rules. This checklist tells you which general obligations you must fulfil when starting a company.

This checklist is ageneral guideline. Your specific situation may require you to fulfil other obligations as well. Please be sure to consult the sector-specific 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). If you are not an EU citizen, you will also need to apply for a temporary and permanent residence permit simultaneously.

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. Write a business plan

You don't have to write a business plan when stting up your own business, but it helps. In a business plan, you outline your plans - what are you going to sell or produce, who will be your clients, how will you find financing? These are all matters you need to have thought about before you begin, if you want to have a chance of succeeding. To find out more about different ways of financing, watch our webinar 'Financing your businessin the Netherlands'.

3. Different starting points

You may be starting your company 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.

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4. Select a legal business structure

Owners of a new company must first select a legal business structure (e.g. sole proprietor or a private limited company). The legal structure determines such issues as liability and tax obligations.

5. Select a trade name for your company

Setting up your own business also means choosing a trade name (company name). You must have one to register your company in the Commercial Register.

6. 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 (KVK). If your business structure is sole proprietor or partnership, you will be issued with a VAT-number, so you don’t have to register with the Dutch Tax Administration separately. Private limited companies and public limited companies have to register via a civil-law notary, who will take care of the registration at the Dutch Tax Administration on your behalf. If you do business in the Netherlands, but your company is not permanently established in the Netherlands, you may only need to register with the Dutch Tax and Customs Administration.

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.

7. Register as an employer for payroll taxes and social security

If you intend to hire staff, you will first need to register as an employer with the Dutch Tax and Customs Administration.

8. Check whether you need professional qualifications

You do not usually need a separate qualification to set up a business in the Netherlands. However, certain professions do require professional qualifications.

9. 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, you can apply for an All-in-one Permit for Physical Aspects (Omgevingsvergunning) to carry out your plans anyway. You can also ask the municipality to change the zoning plan.

10. 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).

11. Consider fire safety requirements for your business premises

If your business is located in a building or other 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 runs a higher fire risk, you must also apply for an All-in-one Permit for Physical Aspects (Omgevingsvergunning).

12. 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.

13. 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.

14. 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.

15. 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.

16. 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.

17. Personal data processing

The processing and storage of personal data is regulated by the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) (Algemene Verordening Gegevensbescherming, AVG). Read our GDPR step-by-step guide.

18. Support

Several government organisations support you when starting your own business:

  • The Netherlands Chamber of CommerceExternal link (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 InvestExternal link website.
  • The Dutch Tax and Customs AdministrationExternal link 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 NederlandExternal link give you advice and assist you in starting up your business. They help you write your business plan.
  • Statistics NetherlandsExternal link (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.

This information is provided by

Netherlands Chamber of Commerce, KVK
Netherlands Enterprise Agency, RVO
Statistics Netherlands organisation, CBS