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What is an SME?

This information is provided by:Netherlands Chamber of Commerce, KVKNetherlands Chamber of Commerce, KVKNetherlands Enterprise Agency, RVONetherlands Enterprise Agency, RVO

In the Netherlands, microbusinesses, small and medium-sized businesses all fall under the header MKB: Midden- en Kleinbedrijf, or Small and Medium-sized Enterprises. Most zzp'ers are also SMEs. But what are the criteria for being an SME? And why does it matter?

Most businesses in the Netherlands belong in the category Midden- en Kleinbedrijf or MKB. This includes so-called zzp'ers (self-employed professionals without staff) or freelancers. An MKB-er is a business owner of a small or medium-sized enterprise or SME. If you run an SME in the Netherlands, you can apply for specific subsidies and grants. And you have to meet certain filing requirements for your financial statements.

What is an SME? The EU definition

The EU-definition of an SME, last revised in 2015, is a business that meets these criteria:

  • Number of employees: fewer than 250

And either of the following two:

  • Annual turnover: equal to or less than €50M OR
  • Total value of assets on balance sheet: equal to or less than €43M

Companies with more than 250 employees, over €50M annual turnover or over €43M in assets on the balance sheet are considered large.

Read the full definition on the EU website. The EU also offers an SME self-assessment wizard and a user guide in several translations.

Applying for Dutch subsidies

In the Netherlands, the Netherlands Enterprise Agency RVO executes most subsidies and schemes aimed at SMEs. RVO uses the EU criteria to determine if a business is eligible for an SME grant or subsidy scheme. If you want to apply for a subsidy at RVO, use their Subsidy guide.

Filing financial statements

Most businesses in the Netherlands have to file their financial statements with the Netherlands Chamber of Commerce KVK annually. KVK uses its own criteria to determine in how much detail a company has to file their financial statements. These are based on size. KVK divides all businesses into 4 categories:

  • Micro
  • Small
  • Medium-sized
  • Large

The larger your business, the more extensive the fiancial statements you have to file. If your business is Micro or Small, the financial statements you have to file are limited to a balance sheet and explanatory notes. Medium-sized or Large companies have to file a balance sheet, a director's report, a profit and loss account, and explanatory notes. Read the details on the KVK website.

The KVK definition of Medium-sized is a business that meets at least 2 of the following criteria for 2 or more years in a row:

  • Number of employees: 50 - 250 persons
  • Annual turnover: between €15 million and €50 million
  • Total value of assets on balance sheet: between €7.5 million and €25 million
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