Have your papers in order for entering the Netherlands
You must have a valid residence permit
If you come from outside the EU/EEA or Switzerland, you may need a residence permit or startup visa to stay and start a business in the Netherlands. Use our tool Coming to the Netherlands as an entrepreneur to find out.
Do you run a foreign company? And do you not have, or want to start, a branch office or subsidiary (a permanent establishment) in the Netherlands? You do not have to register with the Dutch Business Register (Handelsregister). Does your company have to pay VAT in the Netherlands? Then, you do have to register with the Dutch Tax and Customs Administration (Belastingdienst).
Register for a citizen service number
You must have a citizen service number (Burgerservicenummer, BSN) if you want to register your business in the Netherlands. To get one, you must:
- register with the Personal Records Database (Basisregistratie Personen, BRP) in your city of residence, or,
- register with the Non-resident Records Database (Register Niet-Ingezetenen BSN, RNIBSN) if you are staying for less than 4 months.
Have you registered as a non-resident? You need to have a permanent address abroad as well as a temporary one in the Netherlands. When you visit KVK to register, you must be able to show proof of both.
Check if you need to register with the Netherlands Chamber of Commerce (KVK)
You only need to register with the Netherlands Chamber of Commerce (KVK) if you are an entrepreneur. KVK views you as an entrepreneur if you supply goods or services independently, with the intention to make a profit. Online businesses can also qualify.
If you are not sure whether you need to register your business then contact the Netherlands Chamber of Commerce.
Your company needs a Dutch address
To register your company in the Dutch Business Register, you need to have a Dutch address. This can be your own address or a so-called zakenadres, for instance your accountant's address. Ask for a signed declaration of consent that they allow you to use their address as a business address. If you plan on establishing your company in the Netherlands, find business premises before you register at KVK.
There is an exception to the rule that you need a Dutch address. It applies to entrepreneurs who live abroad in the border region and can prove they perform business activities in the Netherlands on a structural basis. For instance as a market vendor. They can register using their foreign address.
Choose a trade name for your Dutch business
An important step in your company registration process is choosing a trade name. Your Dutch business needs a trade name when you register with KVK. A good name:
- does not create a wrong impression;
- is not a brand name used by another company;
- does not sound or look too much like that of another business;
- does not contain special characters ( ) ? ! * # /.
The Dutch Business Register
When you register at KVK, your company will be listed in the Business Register, the Handelsregister in Dutch. Every Dutch company is listed there and everyone has access to check the register. Are you looking for a company, for instance to see if it is trustworthy? Then check the Business Register. Go to the KVK website and use the search function. This page is in Dutch. Fill in the name of the business you're looking for in the frame underneath Zoeken, and press enter. All entries of companies bearing the name you entered will appear.
Choose a Dutch legal structure
As a starting entrepreneur, you must choose a legal structure, like sole proprietorship, a general partnership (vof) or a private limited company (bv). Which legal form is most suitable for you depends on your situation. It determines who is liable (responsible for debts) and which fiscal benefits are available. Use the tool Choosing a Dutch legal structure to find out which legal structure suits your situation best. You can also find some tips on how to choose on the page Legal business structures: an overview.
The following legal forms always have to register in the Business Register:
- sole proprietor (eenmanszaak);
- private limited company (bv);
- public limited company (nv);
- general partnership (vof);
- limited partnership (cv);
- foundation (stichting);
- association with notarial deed (vereniging);
- professional partnership (maatschap);
- cooperative and mutual insurance society.
N.B.: Freelancer and zzp'er are not legal structures. If you freelance in the Netherlands or if you are a self-employed professional without personnel, you have the option to register as a sole proprietor or as a private limited company (besloten vennootschap, bv).
Check if your business must register UBOs
Depending on the legal structure of your company, you also need to register ultimate beneficial owners (UBOs). A UBO is the owner or the person who is effectively in control of an organisation. Every EU country has to keep a UBO register. In the Netherlands you register your UBOs with the Netherlands Chamber of Commerce, KVK.
You may not need to register separately with the Tax and Customs Administration
If you register as a sole proprietor, KVK will pass on your details to the Dutch Tax and Customs Administration (Belastingdienst). You do not need to register separately. The Dutch Tax Administration will issue you with a VAT identification number (BTW-id), to use for correspondence and invoices to your customers, and a VAT number (BTW nummer), to use for your dealings with the Tax Administration. You will receive these numbers from the Tax and Customs Administration by post.
You will need to register separately with the Tax and Customs Administration if you have chosen a private limited company (bv) or a public limited company (nv) as your legal structure. In that case, your registration at both the KVK and the Dutch Tax and Customs Administration will be handled by a civil-law notary, and you will be issued with an RSIN number (identification number for legal entities and associations).
N.B.: the Tax and Customs Administration uses different criteria to establish whether or not you are an entrepreneur for VAT or income tax purposes.
Fill out the online form
You can prepare for your company registration with KVK by filling out the form online as much as possible. You can think of:
- your personal details;
- your business contact details;
- a company description.
Make an appointment with KVK
You can make an online appointment for your registration, or you can call +31 88 5851585 (press 9 for the menu in English). You have to visit a KVK office in person to register if your business structure is sole proprietor or a partnership.
Note: When you set up an organisation that is a legal entity, you will first need to go through a notary. This notary will take care of the registration in the Dutch Business Register at KVK.
Costs and KVK number
During the appointment you will receive your KVK registration and KVK number. Upon registration, you pay a non-recurring (one-time) registration fee. You have to pay this fee directly with debit or credit card. You cannot pay cash.
Important! Do not forget your ID
When visiting KVK to register, you need a valid identification document, for instance a passport. Without one, KVK cannot complete your registration. You will have to return with your ID to make your registration final.
Bring your Dutch business premise lease contract
If your business address differs from your private address, you must bring your business premise lease or purchase contract, or a declaration of consent signed by the owner or landlord of the business premises.
Register in time
There are 3 possible moments to register with KVK:
- No later than 1 week after starting your business;
- 1 week prior to starting your business;
- Earlier. In that case, the registration (with the KVK number) will become official 1 week prior to the start of your business. You do not have to visit KVK again.