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Government information for entrepreneurs

Starting as a self-employed sex worker in the Netherlands

This information is provided by

Netherlands Chamber of Commerce, KVK

Prostitution is a legal profession the Netherlands . If you are 18 years of age or older, you are allowed to work as a self-employed professional in prostitution. If you work as a self-employed professional, you may be considered an entrepreneur. Find out which rules and regulations you must comply with if you want to work in prostitution.

Forced prostitution

Forced prostitution is illegal in the Netherlands and is punishable as an offence. You can read more about exploitation, your rights are and how to get help in the brochure ‘Prostitution and exploitationExternal link’.

Are you working against your will? Look for help.

Are you being forced to work as a prostitute, for example, by someone who has arranged the work for you or by a lover boy? Or are you under the age of 18? Call the police. If you are afraid to call the police, you can report your situation anonymously to Report Crime Anonymously (Meld Misdaad Anoniem) via 0800-7000.

What conditions do I need to fulfil to work as a prostitute in the Netherlands?

If you are 18 years of age or older, you are allowed to work as a sex worker in the Netherlands. However, in most cities the legal minimum age to work in prostitution has been raised to 21 years. Make sure to check with your municipality in advance. If you come from a non-EU country, you must hold a valid Dutch residence permit with the status ‘freelance work permitted’. On our page Moving to the Netherlands as an entrepreneur or self-employed professional, you can find more information about specific conditions that may apply to you.

Do I have to register with the Netherlands Chamber of Commerce?

If you intend to make an income of your service as a sex worker, you may be considered an entrepreneur. Check whether this applies to you. As an entrepreneur you must register with the Netherlands Chamber of Commerce (Kamer van Koophandel, KVK) and pay taxes to the Dutch Tax and Customs Administration (Belastingdienst). It is therefore advisable to reserve some money in advance. As an entrepreneur you may be eligible for tax benefits, such as the entrepreneur allowance (ondernemersaftrek).

Tip: Working according to the opting-in scheme

The opting-in scheme is a middle course between working as an employee and working as a self-employed professional. When you and your operator choose the opting-in scheme, your operator is responsible for withholding payroll tax and premiums on your income and transferring it to the Dutch Tax and Customs Administrations. Your operator must notify the Dutch Tax and Customs Administration in a joint statement (in Dutch) prior to the start of the actual work.

Checklist: Starting as a self-employed sex worker

Every entrepreneur who intends to start a business in the Netherlands must arrange a number of things. When starting as a self-employed sex worker, you have to take the following steps into account.

1. Prepare you registration with the Netherlands Chamber of Commerce

You can fill out an online registration form prior to your registration with the Netherlands Chamber of Commerce. You must fill out your private address and business address. If you work from home, you can register your private address as your business address. You also need a citizen service number and a trade name.

Sole proprietors: VAT number procedure changes as of 1 January 2020

Do you want to register 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. This may take up to five days. Until1 January 2020, the Chamber of Commerce will issue you with your VAT number directly when you registered your business. The change in procedure is necessary to protect sole proprietors' privacy.

2. Register with the Netherlands Chamber of Commerce

After you have completed the registration form, you can schedule an online appointment to finish up your registration. Do not forget to bring your ID-card. The registration fee is 50 euros. The Chamber of Commerce will sign you up with the Dutch Tax and Customs Administration, who will provide you with a VAT number.

Tip: Registering with the Netherlands Chamber of Commerce and your privacy

The Dutch Commercial Register (Handelsregister) is a public register containing addresses and other information relating to businesses and legal entities. If you prefer no one to know that you are working in prostitution, you can register yourself under the heading ‘personal service’ and keep your trade name to yourself. If you wish to have more privacy, you can also have your private address data protected. However, you must meet the following conditions:
  • You are not registered with the Netherlands Chamber of Commerce with another company of whose private address is visible;
  • Your phone number is not public. You can arrange this with your provider;
  • You have a secret address. You can request this at the Civil Affairs department at your municipality or your city district.

3. Check whether you need a permit

When you start working as a self-employed prostitute, you may need to apply for a permit. Your municipality determines where you are allowed to work. Make sure to check if you need a permit with your municipality.

4. Pay VAT and income tax

You are required to pay income tax over your income. You must also pay VAT (turnover tax, BTW). If you do not make enough money, you may be eligible for the Small Business Scheme (kleineondernemersregeling, KOR). However, you must meet the 4 conditions.

5. Keep your business records

If you have a business in the Netherlands, you are legally obliged to keep records and to retain them for at least 7 years. Make sure your records meet all the conditions. For instance, you must be able to show how much tax you need to pay or have to receive back.

6. Choosing your workplace

As a sex worker, you can work in different places. For example, you may choose to work from home, a brothel, clubs, private houses or the streets.

You need an extract from the Dutch Commercial Register

For most workplaces you want to establish yourself, you require an extract from the Dutch Commercial Register. The extract is needed to prove that you are registered with the Netherlands Chamber of Commerce. You can order the extract online from €7.50.

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Do you want to quit working in prostitution?

Most municipalities offer special ‘exit-programmes’ in which several organisations collaborate to provide help. During an intake interview, you set goals together with your supervisor. These goals may include finding a job or learning how to keep better track of money matters. You are required to actively participate.

Questions relating to this article?

Please contact the Netherlands Chamber of Commerce, KVK

This information is provided by

Netherlands Chamber of Commerce, KVK