A food truck is a mobile restaurant from which you can prepare and sell dishes, snacks or drinks. Do you intend to start a food truck business in the Netherlands? Here you read more about what is needed to start your food truck business and which rules and regulations apply.
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HACCP principles and hygiene codes
As with all restaurants, you are obliged to work according to the latest hygiene code. By doing so, you comply with the HACCP principles (Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points). This is an analysis of risks involved and procedures for controlling these risks throughout the entire food production process. From time to time, the NVWA inspectors will come to inspect to see if you meet the hygiene codes. At Koninklijke Horeca Nederland (KHN), you can order an approved hygiene code.
Which licences do you need?
The licences that are required for your food truck business may depend on which town you are in. Each city council decides which regulations apply. Make sure that you contact the municipal authorities to find out which licences you need. These may include:
Market trader’s licence
In the Netherlands, if you want to trade from a stall or a van, on or along a (public) road or public space, you need a market trader's licence (standplaatsvergunning). You can obtain this licence from the municipal authorities.
Check the requirements for event organisations
Event organisations often impose demands on participating food trucks, for instance:
- Payment type (cash, card or coins)
If you play music to your customers, you may have to deal with music rights. At Buma/Stemra you can find more information about the costs.
Dispensation from Licensing and Catering Act
If you serve beer, wine, port or sherry, you must apply for a dispensation from the Licensing and Catering Act.
In the Netherlands it is prohibited to serve alcohol to youths under the age of 18. You also have a duty to prevent the sale of alcohol to underaged youths through persons who are aged 18 years or older (proxy sales). You must always ask young people to produce proof of their age. The application process for your licence may take up to 8-12 weeks. Therefore, always make sure that you apply ahead of time.
Write a business plan
It is not mandatory to write a business plan, however, it is recommended. In this way you force yourself to describe in detail what you intend to sell with your food truck business. A unique recipe or product may be an opportunity in the market. Your business plan includes factors such as the price you set and the profit you wish to make. You must also take into account whether you are willing to stay at a fixed location or if you want to move between multiple locations. Also, keep your competitors in mind while writing your business plan. It may be helpful to conduct market research to find out whether your plans are achievable and if there is a market for your product.
Make a marketing plan
To stand out from your competitors, you must think about how you want to present yourself by making a marketing plan. Find out what your target group is and make sure to tailor your presentation about the products you sell with your food truck to your target group. This also applies to your social media marketing. Come up with engaging campaigns to win over potential customers and attract them to your food truck.
How do I buy and finance a food truck?
- Storage (in case you are not planning to use your food truck the entire year)
- Purchasing products
- Refrigerator for fresh products
- Water connection
Identify and map the costs and include them in your financial plan. This may help you find out whether your plans are achievable. It is also important to have a financial plan in case you are seeking finance for your food truck business. Financiers want to see your financial plan and business plan.
Ensure you hold the right driving licence
If your food truck weighs over 3500 kg or if you own a trailer or supporter, you must hold a BE, C or C1 driving licence. C and C1 are tractor driving licences. Be aware that a B-driving licence is not sufficient.
Come up with a name for your food truck and website
When you start your food truck business, you have to come up with a company name. This name has to be unique in the sector and region in which you operate. Most companies also start a website. In case you want to start a website for your food truck business, you must first choose a domain name (Internet address). You cannot choose a domain name that is already in use, and your domain name must respect the trademark rights and trade name rights of other companies.
Register at the Netherlands Chamber of Commerce (KVK)
When you are finished with the preparation of your food truck business, you have to register at the Chamber of Commerce. The Chamber of Commerce will then sign you up with the Dutch Tax and Customs Administration and provide you with a VAT number. The registration fee is 50 euros.
Income tax and VAT
If you register as a sole proprietor, you need to pay income tax. If you register as a private limitied company (bv), you will have to pay corporate income tax. Either way, you'll be liable for VAT. If you are making a small profit, you may be eligible for a SME profit exemption if you meet the 4 conditions. As a starter, you may also be eligible for the tax relief for new companies as well as the private business ownership allowance. You may deduct this extra tax relief for new companies from your profit for the first 3 years. In order to be eligible, you also need to meet certain conditions. For example, spending at least 1225 hours per year on working on your food truck business.
Keeping business records
You are required to keep records of your income and expenses. Make sure that you include the right data in your records, such as how much tax you need to pay or how much VAT you redeem.
Do I need insurance?
Starting your own company is not without risks. It is recommended to take out an insurance to cover your food truck and inventory, however it is not required. The risk of a fire, burglary or storm that may damage your food truck is relatively high.