Starting as a self-employed sex worker in the Netherlands

Published by:
Netherlands Chamber of Commerce, KVK
Netherlands Chamber of Commerce, KVK

Prostitution is a legal profession in the Netherlands. If you are 18 years of age or older, you are allowed to work as a self-employed professional in prostitution. If you work as a self-employed professional, you may be considered an entrepreneur. Find out what the rules and regulations are for working in prostitution.

Forced prostitution is illegal

Forced prostitution is illegal in the Netherlands and is punishable as an offence. Does your client know or suspect you are forced into prostitution or that you are a victim of human trafficking? Your client is punishable as well. You can read more about exploitation, your rights and how to get help in the brochure ‘Prostitution and Exploitation’.

What conditions do you need to fulfil to work as a prostitute in the Netherlands?

If you are 18 years of age or older, you are allowed to work as a sex worker in the Netherlands. However, in most cities the legal minimum age to work in prostitution has been raised to 21 years. Make sure to check with your municipality in advance.

Do you come from a non-EU country?

If you come from a non-EU country, you must hold a valid Dutch residence permit with the status ‘freelance work permitted’. On our page Moving to the Netherlands as an entrepreneur or self-employed professional, you can find more information about specific conditions that may apply to you.

Do you have to register with the Netherlands Chamber of Commerce KVK?

If you intend to make an income from your service as a sex worker, you may be considered an entrepreneur. Check whether this applies to you. As an entrepreneur, you must register with KVK and pay taxes to the Netherlands Tax Administration (Belastingdienst). It is therefore advisable to reserve some money in advance. You may be eligible for tax benefits, such as the entrepreneur allowance (ondernemersaftrek).

Working according to the 'opting-in' arrangement

If you do not want to work as an employee, nor do you want to work as a self-employed professional, there is a third option. This is called the 'package of terms and conditions' (Voorwaardenpakket). You must meet certain conditions. One of those conditions is that you use the 'opting-in arrangement'. This is an intermediate form of self-employment and employment. Read more about 'opting-in' in chapter 18.14 of the Tax Administration's Payroll Tax Handbook (in Dutch).

Checklist: Starting as a self-employed sex worker

Every entrepreneur who intends to start a business in the Netherlands must arrange several things. When starting as a self-employed sex worker, you have to take the following steps into account.

1. Prepare your registration with KVK

You can fill out an online registration form prior to your registration appointment with KVK. You must fill out your private address and business address. If you work from home, you can register your private address as your business address. You also need a citizen service number and a company name (trading name).

2. Register with KVK

You must register your company in KVK's Business Register. Do not forget to bring valid proof of identity. There is a registration fee. KVK will pass on your details to the Tax Administration. Within 2 weeks you will receive your VAT identification number and VAT number from the Tax Administration by post.

3. Check whether you need a permit

When you start working as a self-employed prostitute, you may need to apply for a sex business permit. Your municipality determines where you are allowed to work. Make sure to check if you need a permit with your municipality.

4. Pay VAT and income tax

You are required to pay income tax over your income. You must also pay VAT (BTW). If you do not make enough money, you may be eligible for the Small Businesses Scheme (kleineondernemersregeling, KOR). You must meet all the conditions.

5. Keep business records

If you have a business in the Netherlands, you are legally obliged to keep records and to hold onto them for at least 7 years. Make sure your records meet all the conditions. For instance, you must be able to show how much tax you need to pay or VAT you get back.

6. Make sure you can work safely

You have a right to good working conditions. The room landlord or operator must ensure that you can work safely and healthily. They must take care of several things. You can report unsafe working conditions to the Netherlands Labour Authority. You can also contact the Municipal Health Service (GGD) in your region for advice.

Choose your workplace

As a sex worker, you can work in different places. For example, you may choose to work from home, a brothel, clubs, private houses or the streets. Where you will work depends on your personal choice.

If you wish to receive customers at your home, you must first contact your municipality to find out if you are allowed to do so. Most municipalities prohibit prostitution at home. You may call them anonymously to ask for more information.

If you want to work in a window brothel, you have to rent a window from a window operator for an agreed period of time. You work independently; you recruit customers yourself and negotiate the price and service. Window prostitution is only legal in the following cities: Amsterdam, Den Haag, Alkmaar, Leeuwarden, Haarlem, Deventer, Doetinchem, Nijmegen, Groningen, and Eindhoven.

In a club or private house, you work for an operator. They make sure everything is clean and safe. Sometimes they also recruit customers. You can continue to work as a self-employed professional. Sometimes you can also work under the opting-in arrangement.

As an escort, you can work in different places. You may choose to work via an escort agency or you may choose to work fully as a self-employed professional. Make sure to check with your municipality whether you need a permit. If you fail to do so, you run the risk of being fined if a permit is required.

If you work on the streets, you must hold a permit from the municipality. You are also restricted to certain areas. Working on the streets is prohibited in the Netherlands, except for so-called ‘streetwalker districts’. These districts are run by the municipality and allow street prostitution. There are 3 streetwalker districts in the Netherlands: Groningen, Arnhem, and Nijmegen.

Do you want to quit working in prostitution?

Most municipalities offer special ‘exit programmes’ in which several organisations collaborate to provide help. During an intake interview, you set goals together with your supervisor. These goals may include finding another job or learning how to keep better track of money matters. You are required to actively participate.

Questions relating to this article?

Please contact the Netherlands Chamber of Commerce, KVK