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Do you want to launch an innovative company, a so-called startup business, in the Netherlands? The Dutch government has created a startup package with incentives for international startups: a Dutch startup visa, an 'Orange Carpet' programme, including organisations that can assist startups in setting up shop in the Netherlands, and a wide range of incubator and accelerator programmes. These 7 steps help you setting up your company. EU citizens can proceed to step 3.
Step 1: Apply for a Dutch startup visa
The Dutch startup visa is a special one-year residence permit for ambitious non-EU entrepreneurs, who want to launch an startup business in the Netherlands. Check if you are qualified for a startup visa, and apply.
At the end of the startup visa year, you can continue running your startup business under the self-employment scheme.
If you plan to start doing business in the Netherlands, you will also need to have or apply for a business bank account (IBAN). The Dutch Banking Association has created a Quick Scan to help you find out if you are eligible. Read how it works.
Step 2: Find a startup facilitator
One of the requirements for obtaining a Dutch startup visa is working together with a business mentor: a facilitator. This cooperation must be officially established in a (signed) agreement between the startup entrepreneur and the facilitator. The facilitator must have experience in guiding innovative startups. The facilitator provides the entrepreneur with a tailor-made package of support dependent on the specific needs of the startup.
For the self-employment scheme a facilitator is not required, but you do have to submit several supporting documents, including a thorough business plan, proof of income and education.
Step 3: Choose a business location
Choosing a location is perhaps the most important decision a startup business has to make. The Netherlands has a large variation of workspaces, incubators, startup facilitators, accelerators and other buildings available for startups. See the company and investor map.
In certain premises or locations zoning regulations stipulate which types of business may be conducted. Contact the local authorities to find out how areas have been zoned or premises have been designated for business usage.
Step 4: Register with your local council
To identify yourself or get access to authorities you have to register at your local council's Municipal Personal Records Database (Basisregistratie Personen, BRP). Most towns offer online registration; check the website of your town of residence to find out how to register. You'll receive a citizen service number (burgerservicenummer, BSN) once you've registered with your local council, or if you're a non-resident once you've recorded your details in the Non Residents Records Database (registratie niet-ingezetenen, RNI). Registering is free of charge and you need to make an appointment.
Need help with your residence permit application or local council registration? Call one of the Netherlands' expat centers. They can be of assistance with all these personal and/or family-related matters. Be aware that some expat centers charge a fee for their services.
Step 5: Register your startup company
To register your company in the Netherlands, you will need to make an appointment with the Netherlands Chamber of Commerce (Kamer van Koophandel or KVK), or use the services of a notary. This will depend on the type of legal business structure you've chosen for your business. Once you've registered, the Chamber of Commerce will forward your details to the Tax and Customs Administration (Belastingdienst) so that they can issue you with a VAT number.
Tool for choosing a Dutch legal structure
If you want to set up a business, but you are in two minds about which legal structure to choose, use our Tool for choosing a Dutch legal structure. It will guide you through some of the main considerations, such as liability, staff and taxes, and give you advice suited to your needs and wishes.
Step 6: Open a business account and a personal bank account
To handle financial business transactions in the Netherlands you'll need a Dutch business bank account. There are several banks to choose from. The Dutch Association of Banks (Nederlandse Vereniging van Banken, NVB) offers a (Dutch) overview of all banks active in the Netherlands. Leading banks in the Netherlands are ABN AMRO, ING and Rabobank.
Are you already in the process of registering with the Netherlands Chamber of Commerce (KVK) and obtaining a residence permit? And are you receiving assistance from the NFIA or from another facilitator? In that case you can take the NVB Quick Scan ‘Dutch Business Bank Account’. The bank of your choice (ABN AMRO, BNP Paribas, ING, or Rabobank) will let you know within 5 working days if you are eligible to apply for a business account.
Besides a business account, you'll also need a personal bank account. For non-EU residents, your citizen service number (BSN), an extract of your business registration and your residence permit is required when opening a personal bank account.
Step 7: Arrange your personal and family matters
Settling in The Netherlands will also raise many questions about personal and family matters. Such as:
- Where will you live?
- Will you be able to get a residence permit for your life partner?
- Will your partner also be allowed to work in the Netherlands?
- What about day care and/or an international school for your children?
- Questions about health care and insurance.
Where to go for support
This 7-step plan should help you get started. You can make use of the Dutch startup ecosystem to find organisations to team up with, apply for funding, etc. Check out the Dutch startup ecosystem.
Organisations that can help you on your way quickly are:
- the Startup Information Desk at the Netherlands Chamber of Commerce
- the National Point of Entry
Other options for highly educated and highly skilled persons
The Netherlands offers several other types of visa besides the startup visa. You can apply for an orientation year visa or, if you will be working as an employee, take advantage of the highly skilled migrant scheme. If you are recruiting personnel, becoming a recognised sponsor has several benefits. For investors, there is also an investors scheme.