1. Check whether you qualify as an entrepreneur
When is catering your business and not just a hobby? The Netherlands Chamber of Commerce (KVK) has set conditions you must meet to qualify as an entrepreneur. If you meet these conditions, you can register in the Business Register at KVK (see step 5). The Netherlands Tax Administration (Belastingdienst) will also check if you are an entrepreneur for VAT and/or income tax purposes.
Read some examples of different situations and if you have a business or not.
2. Report your plans to your municipality
You must inform your municipality that you are going to start a catering business from home. The regulations differ per municipality. So, ask your municipality for the exact conditions before you start.
Common municipal rules
Your house must remain a home. In most municipalities, this means that:
- You can use no more than 1/3 of your house for your business
- Your business must not cause your neighbours any inconvenience
- You cannot advertise on your building
Your plans must fit with the environment plan (omgevingsplan):
- If they do, you usually need to report your business from home to your municipality.
- If they do not fit, you can apply for an exemption or amendment to the environment plan. Do the permit check at the online service counter Omgevingsloket (in Dutch) to find out what permit(s) you need.
Read more about the rules for starting a business from home.
3. Check your mortgage agreement or rental contract
Do you own the house and have you taken out a mortgage to finance it? Then read the terms of your mortgage agreement to find out if you are allowed to start a home business. Are you renting your home? Then check the terms of your rental contract. Contact your landlord and discuss your plans for starting a catering business from home.
4. Follow a hygiene code
You must work according to an approved hygiene code. This is how you meet the HACCP requirements for food safety. A hygiene code sets out how you monitor food safety and hygiene. The Netherlands Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority (NVWA) checks if you are working safely and hygienically. Order an approved HACCP code from the Dutch sector organisation for the hospitality industry, Koninklijke Horeca Nederland (KHN). You can also make your own food safety plan. That plan must follow the 7 basic principles of HACCP.
5. Register at KVK
Do you qualify as a Dutch entrepreneur (see step 1)? Then you can register your catering business at KVK in the Business Register (Handelsregister).
KVK will give you your registration number: the KVK number. KVK will also pass on your details to the Dutch Tax Administration. You do not need to register separately. If you meet the Dutch Tax Administration criteria to qualify as an entrepreneur, it will issue you with a VAT identification number (BTW-id), and a VAT tax number (BTW nummer). You use the VAT identification number for correspondence and invoices for your customers. The VAT tax number is for your dealings with the Tax Administration.
6. Apply for eHerkenning
You often need eHerkenning to arrange things for your company with the government. For example, to register with the NVWA. It is a secure way to log in online. You request your login for eHerkenning from an approved supplier. During the application process you will need your KVK number. You pay for the application and for use of eHerkenning. The cost depends on the provider. Find out more about eHerkenning and how to apply.
7. Register your business with the NVWA
Because your catering company cooks and sells food, you must register with the Netherlands Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority (NVWA) You will need your eHerkenning to do this. Do you work with meat, fish, dairy, eggs or sprouting seeds? Then you need to apply for special recognition and registration for making, using, or selling food.
8. File your tax returns with the Dutch Tax Administration
You must pay VAT on the turnover from your catering business. Usually you file a VAT return quarterly. But you can also apply to the Tax Administration to file a monthly or annual return. In addition to filing a VAT return, you file an income tax return once a year.
You may be able to make use of tax deductions and tax schemes when filing your return. This means you will pay less tax.
9. Insure your business against risk
If you are going to run a catering service from home it is sensible to have business insurance. Examples of insurances are:
Compulsory third-party vehicle insurance (WAM)
Are you going to deliver food to clients using a motor vehicle? Then you must have third party liability insurance according to the Dutch Motor Insurance Liability Act (WAM). Find out more about third party liability insurance for vehicles.
A buildings insurance (opstalverzekering) covers you for damage to your business premises. For example, after fire or burglary. Your mortgage provider or landlord will often require this.
Professional indemnity insurance (BAV)
Professional indemnity insurance (Beroepsaansprakelijksheidsverzekering, BAV), insures you against any financial consequences caused by a professional error on your part.
Business liability insurance (AVB)
Business liability insurance (Bedrijfsaansprakelijkheidsverzekering, AVB) protects your business against damage you, your employees, or your products cause to others.
10. Set up your business administration
You are legally required to set up and keep business records. Keeping business records gives you insight into your financial situation. It also means you have all the data you need for your tax returns. You can do the administration yourself or outsource it to an accountant or bookkeeper.
Find out more about keeping business records.