When you start your own company, you must register in the Dutch company register: the Netherlands Chamber of Commerce Commercial Register (Handelsregister). In many cases, you won’t need a separate registration with the Tax and Customs Administration. The (non-recurring) registration fee is 50 euros.
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Residence permit or startup visaIf you originate from outside the EU/EEA or Switzerland, you need a residence permit or startup visa to stay and start a business in the Netherlands.
Non-resident businessesIf you are a foreign company that doesn't have a permanent establishment in the Netherlands, you don't have to register with the Dutch Commercial Register. However, if you have to pay VAT, you do have to register with the Dutch Tax and Customs Administration yourself.
Check if you need to register with the Chamber of CommerceYou only need to register with the Netherlands Chamber of Commerce if you are an entrepreneur. You qualify as an entrepreneur if you supply goods or services independently, with the intention to make profit. Find out if you qualify as an entrepreneur. Are you starting up as a freelancer or sole trader? You may need to register; it depends on whether your business satisfies the criteria for an enterprise. If you are not sure whether you need to register your business then contact the Chamber of Commerce.
Your company needs a nameYour business needs a company name when you register with the Netherlands Chamber of Commerce. A good company name:
- doesn’t 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 ( ) ? ! * # /.
Choose a legal structure
As a starting entrepreneur, you must choose a legal structure, like sole proprietorship, a commercial partnership (vof) or a private limited company (bv). Which legal form is most suitable for you, depends on your situation. For instance, how do you want to appoint liability (who is responsible for debts), and which fiscal benefits are available? You can find some tips on how to choose on the page Legal business structures: an overview.
Sole proprietors: VAT number procedure changes as of 1 January 2020
Are you a sole proprietor (eenmanszaak)? In that case, from 1 January 2020 onwards, the Tax and Customs Administration will issue your VAT number when you register at the Chamber of Commerce. When you register with the Commercial Register, the Chamber of Commerce will forward your registration to the Tax Administration, and they will process this to provide you with your VAT number. This may take up to five days. Until 1 January 2020, the Chamber of Commerce will issue you with your VAT number directly when you register your business.
The change in procedure is necessary to protect sole proprietors' privacy; prior to the change, the VAT number was linked to the private citizen service number (BSN). Personal data were freely available in the Commercial Register. The Data Protection Authority (Autoriteit Persoonsbescherming) has ruled that this is a violation of the GDPR. If you were already registered as a sole proprietor with your citizen service number before 1 January 2020, the Tax Administration will issue you with a new VAT number. You don't have to undertake any action.
The following legal forms are always required to register in the Commercial Register:
- sole proprietor (eenmanszaak)
- private limited company (bv);
- public limited company (nv);
- commercial partnership (vof);
- limited partnership (cv);
- foundation (stichting);
- association with notarial deed;
- public partnership (openbare maatschap);
- cooperative and mutual insurance society.
N.B.: Freelancer and zzp-er are not legal structures. If you are a freelancer or zzp-er, you have the option to register as a sole proprietor or as a private limited company (BV). The article on what to consider when choosing a legal structure can steer you towards the right choice for your situation.
You may not need to register separately with the Tax and Customs AdministrationWhen starting a business as a limited company or foundation, you need to register with the Dutch Tax and Customs Administration separately. Is your business a different legal structure? Then you will be automatically registered with the Tax and Customs Administration when you register with the Chamber of Commerce. You will receive a VAT-number (btw-nummer) and an RSIN number (identification number for legal entities and associations). You needn’t take any additional steps. 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.
Prepare your registration onlineYou can prepare for your company registration with the Netherlands Chamber of Commerce by filling out the form online as much as possible. You can think of:
- your personal details;
- your business contact details;
- a company description;
- your expected yearly turnover, acquisition, and gross profit.
Bring your business premise lease contractIf your business address differs from your private address, you must bring your business premise lease or purchase contract.
Make an appointment onlineYour visit to the Netherlands Chamber of Commerce completes your company registration. During the appointment you’ll receive your Chamber of Commerce registration and VAT number. You can make an appointment online. You can also call +31 88 5851585 and then press 1, to speak to a customer service operative, who can help you make the appointment.
When should you register?There are three possible moments to register with the Chamber of Commerce:
- No later than one week after starting your business;
- One week prior to starting your business;
- Earlier. In that case, the registration (with Chamber of Commerce registration number) will become official one week prior to the start of your business. You don’t have to come to the Chamber of Commerce again.