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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. Self-employed professional is not a legal form. Most self-employed professionals have a one-man business or a private limited company (Besloten Vennootschap, BV).
As a 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 self-employed professionals.
Guide for self-employed professionals and other entrepreneurs who wish to start a business in the Netherlands.
Guide for self-employed professionals with a business outside the Netherlands who wish to carry out a temporary assignment in the Netherlands.
Guide 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.
Rules and regulations
Just like other entrepreneurs, 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.
For clients of 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.
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.
Self-employed professionals have to observe most parts of the Working Conditions Act (Arbowet) and the Working Conditions Regulation (Arboregeling).
'Zzp'er' is not a legal form. Self-employed professionals often opt for the legal form of a one-man business (eenmanszaak) or that of a private limited company (besloten vennootschap, BV).
You can take out voluntary insurance with the UWV. In that case, you will receive a benefit if, for example, you become ill or unfit for work. You can also take out voluntary insurance against a number of other business risks.
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 are based in the Netherlands as a 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 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.
Self-employed professionals in the Netherlands must pay income tax and health care insurance premiums.