1. Is a zzp'er or a freelancer the same as a self-employed professional in the Netherlands?
If you are a self-employed professional in the Netherlands, you will often come across the abbreviation zzp'er. This is short for zelfstandige zonder personeel, or self-employed professional without employees. The term freelancer is also used. Neither zzp'er nor freelancer are legal structures in the Netherlands, so if you register with the Netherlands Chamber of Commerce KVK, you will have to choose an existing legal structure, such as sole proprietor (eenmanszaak).
2. Check whether you meet the conditions for residence in the Netherlands
If you are from outside the EU/EEA or Switzerland, and your assignment in the Netherlands is for longer than 90 days, you may need a residence permit. Use our interactive tool Coming to the Netherlands as an entrepreneur to find out if this applies to you.
3. Check whether you have the professional qualifications required in the Netherlands
You are only allowed to practise certain professions in the Netherlands if you have the correct qualifications. You must have this certificate officially recognised by the competent authority in the country where you obtained the certificate.
4. Apply for an A1/(E)101 statement
If you work in the Netherlands on a temporary basis, you can sometimes remain insured for social security purposes in the country where your company has its registered office. For this purpose you will need to apply for an A1/(E)101 statement from the organisation responsible for social security in your country.
5. Register with KVK and/or the Dutch Tax and Customs Administration
If you provide services in the Netherlands, you may have to pay turnover tax (VAT). For this purpose, you must register with the International Office of the Dutch Tax and Customs Administration. Because you are going to carry out a temporary assignment, for a short period, you most likely do not have to register your business with the Dutch Business Register at KVK. However, you may do so, if for instance your client asks you to. If you do register with KVK, your details will be forwarded by KVK to the Dutch Tax Administration, so you will not have to register with them separately.
If you are not sure whether you should register with KVK, you can contact the KVK Advice Team.
6. Check if you must notify the government
If you are from the EEA or Switzerland, in some cases you must notify the Dutch government of your assignment in the Netherlands via this online notification portal. You must give information on how long you will be staying, what work you will be doing, and more. Check the list of all the data you need to submit. The sector you work in determines whether or not you need to notify the government. Check the sector list. On the Government.nl website you can find information on the notification duty for self-employed persons, N.B.: the duty to notify does not apply to occasional work like business meetings, conferences or emergency repair work.
Subcontractors must also notify their workers
If you hire a third party to do (part of) the work on your behalf, this subcontractor must notify the Dutch government of all the workers who will be posted in the Netherlands.
7. Work according to a model agreement
For clients of self-employed professionals in the Netherlands it is important to know how the Dutch Tax and Customs Administration will assess the exact nature of their business relationship (i.e. an employment relationship or work on a self-employed basis). A model agreement records that relationship.
8. Check whether you need a work permit
You need a work permit if you come from a country outside of the European Economic Area (EEA) or Switzerland. Your customer must apply for this work permit from the Employee Insurance Agency (Uitkeringsinstituut Werknemersverzekeringen, UWV).
9. Always carry valid proof of identity with you
Your customer is required to make a copy of your proof of identity at the start of your assignment and to keep the copy. In addition, you must always be able to show proof of identity in the event of an inspection.
10. Make sure you comply with health and safety rules
As a self-employed entrepreneur you must comply with a number of rules regarding health and safety at work. You must prevent serious occupational dangers for yourself and the people you work with.
11. Set a realistic hourly rate
When you determine your hourly rate, take into account the amount of experience you have, and the going rate in your line of business. Don't overprice yourself, and don't sell yourself too cheaply; that may land you the project you're angling for now, but it may come back to haunt you in future projects. For one thing, you will not be able to raise your prices with that customer for at least a year.
12. Check whether you must charge or may claim back VAT
You may have to charge your customer VAT if you carry out an assignment in the Netherlands. You may also be able to claim back VAT that you have paid in the Netherlands.
13. Check whether you need to file an income tax return
If your business does not have a permanent branch in the Netherlands, you are normally not liable for Dutch income tax. However, in some cases you are liable. You can check this with the Dutch Tax and Customs Administration.
14. Register for a Citizen Service Number
If you have to pay income tax in the Netherlands, you will need a Citizen Service Number (Burgerservicenummer, BSN). You will receive this number upon registration with your municipality or, if you are a non-resident, with the Non-residents Records Database (Registratie Niet Ingezetenen, RNIBSN).
15. Check whether you need insurance
In the Netherlands, you are not obliged to insure yourself against business risks. However, if you do not have an E101/A1 statement, you will have to take out Dutch health insurance.
About this checklist
This checklist is aimed specifically at the self-employed entrepreneur based outside the Netherlands. It is a guideline; you may be subject to other obligations as well. Other rules apply if you are a self-employed professional starting a company, or a business establishing a branch in the Netherlands.
For further information, contact the Netherlands Chamber of Commerce (KVK) or the Dutch Tax and Customs Administration (Belastingdienst). If you want to know more about the business climate of the Netherlands, sectors offering good opportunities and the practical aspects of doing business, visit Holland Trade and Invest.