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Do you want to launch an innovative business in the Netherlands? The Dutch government, in cooperation with the StartupDelta initiative and the Dutch industry, has created a so-called startup package with incentives for international startups: a startup visa, an 'Orange Carpet' programme to make it easier to set up shop in the Netherlands as well as 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 residence permit for non EU entrepreneurs
The residence permit (or startup visa) scheme for start-ups grants ambitious non-EU entrepreneurs a one year startup visa to launch an innovative business in the Netherlands. At the end of this year, you can continue running your business under the self-employment scheme. Check if you are qualified and apply for a permit.
The Netherlands offers several other types of visa besides startup visa's. You can apply for an orientation year visa or take advantage of our highly skilled migrant scheme. For recruiting personnel, you can benefit by becoming a recognized sponsor. For investors, there is also a special investors scheme.
Step 2: Find a start-up facilitator
One of the requirements for obtaining a residence permit is working together with a business mentor: a facilitator. This cooperation must be officially established in a (signed) agreement between the start-up entrepreneur and the facilitator. The facilitator must have experience in guiding innovative start-ups. The facilitator provides the entrepreneur with a tailor-made package of support dependent on the specific needs of the start-up.
Step 3: Choose a business location
Choosing a business location is perhaps the most important decision a start-up has to make. The Netherlands has a large variation of workspaces, incubators, start-up facilitators, accelerators and other facilities available for start-ups. 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. Please be aware that some expat centers charge a fee for their services.
Step 5: Register your 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 form 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.
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 account. There are several banks to choose from. Leading banks in the Netherlands are ABN AMRO, ING and Rabobank.
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.
This 7-step plan should help you get started. And you can make use of the Dutch startup ecosystem to find organisations to team up with, funding, etc. Check out the Dutch startup ecosystem.