How to start a shop - a checklist

Published by:
Netherlands Chamber of Commerce, KVK
Netherlands Chamber of Commerce, KVK
Statistics Netherlands, CBS
Statistics Netherlands, CBS

Do you intend to start a shop in the Netherlands? Opening a shop may not be as simple as you might think. As a retail 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 store to be located? Is there a market for your products? Which rules and regulations do you have to comply with? This roadmap will help you get started.

This checklist guides you through the steps you need to take to open a shop, or start a retail business as it is officially called, in the Netherlands. It is possible that you will need to take other steps as well; this depends on the type of shop you want to open, and the town or village you want to open it in. Consult your local municipality regarding the order of the steps. You can carry out several steps at the same time.

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, depending on whether or not you are from the European Economic Area (EEA). 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 (international bank account number, IBAN). The Dutch Banking Association has created a Quick Scan to help you find out if you are eligible. Read how it works.

2. Follow the steps for starting your own business

The article How to start a business in the Netherlands - a checklist shows you the most important steps for starting any business. For example, you need to choose a legal form for your business and register your business with KVK. And writing a business plan will help you if you need financial backing from banks or investors. Follow the step-by-step plan before starting a shop or supermarket franchise. Then get started with the steps on this page.

3. Research the area where you want to set up shop

Make sure you have a good picture of supply and demand in your location area. You can do this with the KVK and CBS location scan (in Dutch). Think about information on your industry, chances of survival, potential customers and inhabitants, for example.

4. Find a good shop building

First map out what you are looking for. Think about:

  • location
  • size (surface area of the space)
  • appearance
  • competition from other shops
  • your budget

Renting or buying retail property

When you lease a shop premises, you become a tenant of medium-sized business premises. You are entitled to rent and rent protection. This means that the landlord cannot simply terminate or increase the rent.

If you are going to buy a shop premises, you will need to take out a business mortgage. This is a business loan for buying or converting a commercial property. Read what to look out for when taking out a business mortgage to buy a shop or supermarket.

5. Go through the steps to set up your shop

You have found a location for your shop. To find out for sure whether you can set up shop there, you can check the environment plan (in Dutch) in the online service counter Omgevingsloket beforehand. The environment plan states what is allowed at that location.

Arrange permits

Check which permits you need. You need an environment and planning permit (omgevingsvergunning) for most building and renovation work. Do the permit check (in Dutch) and apply for your permit (in Dutch) online, via the Omgevingsloket.

Check the environmental requirements

Check which environmental regulations your shop must comply with.

Municipal taxes

In 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.

6. Check the 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:

7. Comply with the law

Which laws and regulations you need to comply with depends on your industry. See the complete overview of retail laws and regulations (in Dutch).

The most important laws for retailers are:

The Commodities Act contains rules on, among other things, product safety, public health and proper information. This law applies to all products used by consumers. Food and non-food products.

You must observe the statutory trading hours. The Shopping Hours Act states at what time and on which days your shop may be open. Your municipality may deviate from this.

Opening hours in your contract

Check the shop opening hours in your (rental) contract. For example, with the shopkeepers' association. When you sign the contract, you must stick to the times in the contract. Does the association want to change the opening hours later? Then you must first agree to this. For example, your shop does not have to open on Sundays against your will.

Do you sell alcohol in your shop for use outside your shop? The rules for this can be found in the Alcohol Act.

The Dutch Tobacco Act contains rules on the sale of smoking materials, with or without tobacco and electronic cigarettes.

Companies must treat consumers fairly. There are rules for that. Such as the right to a guarantee, cooling-off period for online sales and sales outside the sales area (door-to-door selling).

8. Investigate whether an online shop strengthens your shop

Besides a physical shop, you can also start an online shop. A webshop can provide more revenue. Both can reinforce each other.

Start a parcel pick-up point

As a retailer, you can earn some extra income and get new customers by starting a parcel pick-up point. You will have to take into account storage space and time investment. You register the extra activity online at KVK for free. You do not need to arrange anything else.

9. Hiring staff

If you are going to hire staff, use the step-by-step plan for hiring staff. You will quickly find out what rules apply on the labour market.

Number of shops started

Over the past 10 years the number of started businesses with a physical shop shows a decrease.

Questions relating to this article?

Please contact the Netherlands Chamber of Commerce, KVK