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Get started as a freelancer or zzp’er

This information is provided by:Netherlands Chamber of Commerce, KVKNetherlands Chamber of Commerce, KVKNederlandse versie

Do you want to work as a freelancer or self-employed professional without staff (zzp’er)? You can typically get started very quickly. This article tells you what you need to know and arrange when you want to start working as a freelancer.

What is the difference between a freelancer and zzp’er?

There is actually no difference between the terms zzp’er and freelancer. They both mean that:

  • you work for different clients;
  • you do not have an employment contract with the clients;
  • you carry out an assignment temporarily as an independent entrepreneur;
  • your client pays you for a specific assignment; and
  • the client does not deduct payroll tax. You pay this yourself via your tax return.

Advantages and disadvantages of being a freelancer

Working as a freelancer or zzp'er has advantages and disadvantages. For example, a disadvantage may be that you have to organise your own pension and disability insurance. On the other hand, you often have a higher hourly rate than in paid employment. And you decide who you work for and how. Learn more about the advantages and disadvantages (in Dutch) on the KVK website.

Freelancing part-time

You can also work part-time as a freelancer, alongside your main job. Check first with your employer before taking on freelance assignments. Especially if you intend to work on similar types of projects. Even if you are only freelancing part-time, you must register as a sole proprietor at KVK.

Prepare for becoming a freelancer

Before you get started, consider what you need to do to succeed as a freelancer. Think about how you will get clients and promote yourself. Write a business plan. Are your plans realistic? How will you set your hourly rate? And do you meet KVK’s and the Dutch Tax Administration’s criteria to be considered an entrepreneur?

Register as a freelancer at KVK

As an entrepreneur, you usually must register in KVK’s Business Register. You pay a one-time fee when you register. The KVK then passes on your details to the Tax Administration. They will send you your VAT ID number and VAT tax number. You usually receive these by post within 2 weeks. Many freelancers choose a sole proprietorship (eenmanszaak) or a private limited company (bv) as legal form.

Take a look at the step-by-step plan for starting a business in the Netherlands. There you can find out what is involved in starting your own business. This is also useful if you want to become a freelancer.

Find customers

You will be responsible for finding freelance assignments and contacting possible clients. Learn more about finding potential clients on the KVK website.

Assess your working relationships with clients

Do you work as a zzp’er for just one client? Or do you always work for different customers? You should always check if your relationship with a client is actually an employee relationship. If you are an employee, for example, your client must pay payroll taxes for you.

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