How to start a business in the Netherlands - a checklist

Published by:
Netherlands Chamber of Commerce, KVK
Netherlands Chamber of Commerce, KVK
Statistics Netherlands, CBS
Statistics Netherlands, CBS
Checked 22 Feb 2024
10 min read
Nederlandse versie

How do you set up a business in the Netherlands? You must register your company at the KVK, and register for Dutch taxes. Use this checklist to find out what else.

Flowchart registering your businessFlowchart registering your business

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 usually need to apply for a temporary (MVV) and permanent residence permit. Perhaps you are an innovative startup - in that case, you may qualify for the residence permit for a foreign startup. You will then receive a citizen service number (burgerservicenummer, BSN).

If you plan to start doing business in the Netherlands, you will need an address in the Netherlands.

And you will also need to have or apply for a business bank account (international bank account number, IBAN). The Dutch Banking Association (Nederlandse Vereniging van Banken) has created a Quick Scan to help you find out if you are eligible. Read how it works.

2. Write a business plan

A good start to your business, begins with a good plan. It helps to write a business plan when you are setting up your own company. In it, you outline your plans: think about company formation and the legal business structure you want to choose. What are you going to sell or produce, who will be your clients, how will you find financing? Is there a demand for your product or service on the Dutch market? These are all matters you need to have thought about before you begin, if you want to have a chance of succeeding.

Read more about writing a business plan on

3. Research the market and determine your strategy

Doing market research will help you understand the feasibility of your business plans. Through market research you analyse, for example, your competition and how you introduce your product or service onto the market.

Read how to do market research on

4. Make a financial plan

To start your business, you need money. A financial plan will help you map out how much money you need and if you need financing. It will also give you an insight into your business opportunities. This will allow you to assess in advance whether starting a business will be profitable for you.

Read how to write a financial plan on

5. Choose a trade name for your company

Setting up your own business also means choosing a company name (also called a trade name). A good company name is recognisable, sticks, compliant and unique.

So, first check if your company name already exists on And read about the rules for company names.

To register your business in the Business Register of KVK, you must first select a legal business structure like sole proprietor (eenmanszaak) or private limited company (bv). The legal structure determines your liability, but also what taxes you have to pay and whether you get tax breaks.

7. Keeping business records

You are required by law to set up and maintain business records. So, make sure your records meet the requirements of the Netherlands Tax Administration. You will use your records as a basis when completing your tax return. Are you hiring staff? Then you need to register as en employer and keep payroll records.

To qualify for tax benefits through the entrepreneur allowance, you must spend at least 1,225 hours in a year on your business. You keep track of your hours in your timesheets.

For your business records, a retention obligation (bewaarplicht) applies: you must keep your business records for 7 years. Read more about keeping business records.

KVK Book of Finance

Also read the free Book of Finance for Entrepreneurs with practical tips from KVK on keeping track of your finances.

8. Arrange general terms and conditions, and insurance

Starting a business also means taking risks. Because you do not work for an employer, you are responsible for financial consequences yourself. For example, if you fall ill or in case of an accident in your business. Fortunately, you can insure yourself against many risks. For instance, with business liability insurance and disability insurance.

And by drawing up general terms and conditions, you also make it immediately clear what rights and obligations you and your customers have.

Read more about business insurance.

Building up a pension

Do not forget about your pension. Since you are not an employee, you do not build up a pension. You need to make your own arrangements for your old age. Read more about arranging your pension.

Minimise security risks

Besides general entrepreneurial risk, you face security risks such as fraud and crime. What security risks will you face as a start-up and how can you mitigate them? Read about keeping your business secure on

Which rules you have to deal with depends on the activities and location of your business.

Are you going to make or sell food? Rules apply. And if you make, sell, import, or distribute products, then these must comply with European safety requirements.

See the requirements for all industries.

Certain professions do require professional qualifications and diplomas.

You may face requirements for your business premises. For example, if you run your business from home. Is this allowed according to the municipality's environment plan? If you have a business premises, you must take fire safety measures to prevent and deal with fire. Your municipality can help you find out the laws and regulations that apply to your business.

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

Business premises must have at least energy label C Also keep in mind that you may have to separate your waste. Read more about environmental requirements.

10. Register with the Dutch Business Register and Tax Administration

Are you ready for the official launch of your business? New businesses must register with the Dutch Business Register at the Netherlands Chamber of Commerce KVK. Read our step-by-step article to find out about the registration procedure, costs, etc.

Once you are registered in the Business Register, KVK will pass on your details to the Netherlands Tax Administration (Belastingdienst). You do not need to register your company separately with the Netherlands Tax Administration.

Private limited companies and public limited companies have to register via a civil-law notary. The notary will take care of the registration at the 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 Tax Administration.

If the Netherlands Tax Administration includes you in its records as a VAT entrepreneur, you will be given your sales tax (VAT) number and your VAT identification number (VAT ID). Read more about VAT numbers.

11. Find customers and create a website

Now that your own business is established, you can really get down to business. The next step is to find customers. Many entrepreneurs find clients through their (online) network. See what events and meetings there are in your area and visit networking events.

Read more tips on finding clients on

Checklists for starting a business in different industries

Find out specific information about different industries or sectors in our checklists for starting a business.

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.

You may want to bring your existing company to the Netherlands. What rules apply and do you need to register? This depends on what you do: opening a branch office, transferring the entire business, or only opening a goods depot or representative office. Read more about Foreign entities.

If you are an innovative startup, you may be eligible for government funding, use the Startup Box to find out which programmes apply to you.

You have a job in the Netherlands, but want to set up a part-time business of your own. There are a few steps you need to take before you do:

  • Check your contract, collective employment agreement (cao) and terms of employment for any clauses that could stop you from operating in your chosen field, such as a non-compete clause. This could be the case if you want to set up a business in the same sector as your employer, or would be approaching your employer’s clients.
  • Discuss your plans with your employer; you are not legally obliged to do so, but it may prevent problems and legal procedures.
  • If you want to work fewer hours in your job, you should put in a written request with your employer at least 2 months before the starting date. Formally, you can only do so if the company employs at least 10 people, and you have worked there for at least half a year. Your employer has one month to react; if they do not, the law holds that the request is automatically approved. If your employer turns you down, it has to be for a good reason. You then have to wait a year before putting in a new request.

Note: you will have to pay income tax (inkomstenbelasting, or IB for short) over the income you earn with your business. Also, you may need to take out insurance for your company. Tip: you will most likely be eligible for the small business scheme (KOR) or the SME profit exemption scheme, which means you pay less VAT or none at all.

You receive unemployment benefit in the Netherlands. You can start a business and give up your benefit, partially retain it or reduce it for a trial period. See what the options are. If your business fails within the period that you remain entitled to unemployment benefit, you can reclaim it. To learn more about his, read Starting a business with unemployment benefit.

Do you have an occupational disability or are you (partially) disabled? And do you want to start a business? You can do so with benefits under the Wajong, WIA, WAO, WAZ or Sickness Benefits Act. The Employee Insurance Agency (Uitvoeringsinstituut Werknemersverzekeringen, UWV) will help you set up your own business. Read the how-to guide on starting a business with an occupational disability.

You can start a business under the age of 18 in the Netherlands. You will not be entitled to act as a legal person, unless you request limited legal capacity from a district court (if you are at least 16 years of age).

If you want to set up a business as a student in the Netherlands, special rules may apply.

Starting by taking over a business has advantages over starting a new one. For instance, you are often assured of regular customers, brand recognition and business premises right away. During negotiations, be sure to discuss what you will and will not take over. And do some due diligence.

Read the how-to guide on how to start by taking over a business.

Starting a business later in life? Prepare well and avoid liability with your private assets. Take advantage of tax benefits for business owners. If you receive a state pension (AOW), your Tax-relief for new companies and Private business ownership allowance will be 50% lower than for other entrepreneurs.

Support from Dutch government organisations

Several Dutch government organisations support you when starting your own business:

  • The Netherlands Chamber of Commerce KVK provides information on how to start a business in the Netherlands. They can advise you on creating a business plan, carrying out market research and other issues.
  • 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 NL Platform website.
  • The Netherlands Tax 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 can advise and assist you in starting up your business. They can also help you to 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.


This checklist is a general guideline. Depending on your situation, you may need to take other steps as well. Know that there are many rules in the Netherlands. You will need to do some homework to be well prepared. For questions, you can always contact KVK.

Statistics: enterprise births

Number of enterprise births.

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Questions relating to this article?

Please contact the Netherlands Chamber of Commerce, KVK