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When do you have an independent profession?

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

Most people practicing an independent profession work in the healthcare, cultural, or legal sector. Read on this page what an independent profession is and which rules apply when practicing an independent profession. Also see the list with examples of independent professions.

What is an independent profession?

There is no clear definition of what an independent profession exactly is. In practice, it includes professions that anyone can practice independently if they have the right knowledge and training. Examples include lawyers, notaries, or family doctors. Or someone with a unique talent or special quality. Such as an artist or performer.

If you have an independent profession, you work on your own. You cannot send someone in your place. You do your profession on your own behalf and you are liable for any risks. Also, someone with an independent profession has to comply with the codes of conduct and professional regulations of the profession.

Laws for independent professions

For some independent professions special laws apply. For example:

In these laws, there are conditions about:

  • training;
  • mandatory registrations in registers; and
  • rules on searching for clients.

There are also independent professions which have no special laws. For example, for artists, teachers, and farmers. You need to comply with the general laws and rules for entrepreneurs.

Professional confidentiality

Do you have a trust relationship with your client? Then professional confidentiality applies. This means you keep silent about facts and data of your patient or client. In general, professional confidentiality applies for protected professions. Those are professions that require a permit or an oath, such as

  • Lawyers
  • Medical specialists (such as family doctors and surgeons)
  • Notaries
  • Psychologists

Client can file complaint with disciplinary tribunal

Is your client or patient unsatisfied? Then they can file a complaint with a disciplinary tribunal. A disciplinary tribunal judge can forbid you from working in an independent profession. Such as being a notary or a medical specialist.

List of independent professions

Examples of common independent professions are:

  • Accountant or administration consultant
  • Adviser
  • Alternative healer
  • Tax consultant or adviser
  • Architect (garden, landscape, or construction)
  • Veterinarian
  • Dietician
  • Physiotherapist
  • Bailiff
  • Family doctor
  • Interior designer
  • Legal adviser
  • Journalist
  • Hairdresser
  • Artist
  • Speech therapist
  • Medical specialist
  • Notary
  • Remedial teacher
  • Psychologist
  • Consultant
  • Editor
  • Beautician
  • Dentist (also specialist or dental hygienist)
  • Therapist
  • Interpreter or translator
  • Midwife

Register at the Netherlands Chamber of Commerce KVK

If you start in one of the independent professions, then you need to register in the Business Register of KVK. You do not need to register at the Tax and Customs Administration (Belastingdienst). That happens automatically after registering with KVK.

Choose a legal structure

To register at the KVK Business Register you need a legal structure. The legal structure determines your liability, but also which taxes you need to pay and if you can get tax benefits. Most entrepreneurs with an independent profession choose for a sole proprietorship (eenmanszaak) or professional partnership (maatschap).

Sole proprietorship

When you work alone, you will usually choose a sole proprietorship. You are accountable for all liabilities and both your business assets and personal assets can be used to pay back loans.

Read more about the sole proprietorship.

Professional partnership

Will you work together with one or more entrepreneurs with an independent profession? For example, in a general practice or a notaries office? Choose a professional partnership. Every co-owner, or partner, contributes something. For example money or labour. Partners are personally liable for debts. This liability is shared equally between partners.

Read more about professional partnerships.

Limited liability partnership (LLP)

Do you want to work together with others, but prefer less personal liability? Then the limited liability partnership (LLP) an alternative for the professional partnership. The LLP is a British legal structure that is recognised in the Netherlands as well.

Read more about the limited liability partnership (LLP) (in Dutch).

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