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A self-employed professional or freelancer (known in Dutch as zelfstandige zonder personeel, ZZP'er) is an entrepreneur without any staff who works for a number of different customers. They work at their own expense and risk. During illness or when business is slow, they cannot fall back on a benefit. However, they can make use of various schemes intended to stimulate entrepreneurship. Freelancer/self-employed professional is not a legal structure. Most freelancers/self-employed professionals have a one-man business or a private limited company (Besloten Vennootschap, BV).
As a freelancer/self-employed professional, you can start a business in the Netherlands or carry out a temporary assignment in the Netherlands while being based in another country. In both cases, you will have to deal with Dutch government rules and regulations. Many of them are the same as for other entrepreneurs; some apply only to freelancers/self-employed professionals.
Find below an overview of the most important guides, regulations and taxes that apply to freelancers/self-employed professionals.
Checklist for freelancers/self-employed professionals and other entrepreneurs who wish to start a business in the Netherlands.
Checklist for freelancers/self-employed professionals with a business outside the Netherlands who wish to carry out a temporary assignment in the Netherlands.
Checklist for independent health care providers who start working in the homecare sector and health care providers who start their own practice, such as dentists and physiotherapists.
'Zzp' is not a legal structure. Freelancers/self-employed professionals often opt for the legal structure of a one-man business (eenmanszaak) or that of a private limited company (besloten vennootschap, BV).
Tool for choosing a Dutch legal structure
If you want to set up a business, but you are in two minds about which legal structure to choose, use our Tool for choosing a Dutch legal structure. It will guide you through some of the main considerations, such as liability, staff and taxes, and give you advice suited to your needs and wishes.
For part-time entrepreneurs in the Netherlands the same rules apply as for full-time entrepreneurs. If you start your business in addition to your job, you must discuss your plans with your employer. You may have to deal with a non-compete or a non-solicitation clause.
In the Netherlands, minors (younger than 18 years of age) who own a business need permission from their parents for legal actions such as making a purchase or borrowing money. If you want to perform legal acts without your parents' permission, you can apply for limited legal capacity.
You do not require a separate qualification to establish a business in the Netherlands. However, there are various professions which you may only practise if you fulfil certain requirements.
If you come from outside the EEA/Switzerland, you will normally need a work permit in order to work in the Netherlands. Your customer must apply for the work permit on your behalf.
For clients of freelancers/self-employed professionals (zelfstandigen zonder personeel, zzp'ers) 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.
Freelancers/self-employed professionals have to observe most parts of the Working Conditions Act (Arbowet) and the Working Conditions Regulation (Arboregeling).
Just like other entrepreneurs, freelancers/self-employed professionals must register with the Dutch Tax and Customs Administration (Belastingdienst), which determines whether you are an entrepreneur for the purposes of turnover tax and income tax.
If you are based in the Netherlands as a freelancer/self-employed professional, you nearly always have to pay turnover tax (VAT). Some services are exempt from VAT.
If you carry out a temporary assignment in the Netherlands as a freelancer/self-employed professional, you sometimes have to pay VAT as well. You may sometimes be able to claim back VAT that you have paid in the Netherlands.
Freelancers/self-employed professionals in the Netherlands must pay income tax and health care insurance premiums.
Statistics: self-employed professional
Number of self-employed professionals (without employees).