In the Netherlands, you can start a business with unemployment benefit. You have several options. You may choose a start-up period, have your unemployment benefit reduced, or halt your benefit with the option to reclaim it, if your business fails. This checklist provides information about the available options and the obligations you must fulfil when starting a business with unemployment benefit.
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1. Prepare yourself by doing research
If you want to start a business, it is important to do some research in advance. Ask yourself if the business you want to start is right for you. What skills and qualifications do you have? Contact the Employment Insurance Agency (Uitvoeringsinstituut Werknemersverzekeringen, UWV)for advice or use the research period to put out your idea into writing. The maximum duration of the research period is 6 weeks.
2. What are my options?
2.a You start your business with a start-up period
UWV allows a start-up period (in Dutch) if it is likely that you will gain enough income from your business to make a living. The start-up period lasts 26 weeks. During the start-up period, your will receive 29% less unemployment benefit. You have the option to spend all your time on your business instead of applying for jobs. There are additional conditions to the start-up period. For instance, you are obliged to report your income to UWV. In the online course ‘Zelfstandig ondernemen met een WW-uitkering’ (in Dutch), the conditions are discussed in-depth. The course is mandatory.
What happens after the start-up period?
If you want to continue working as an entrepreneur or self-employed professional, you must report the number of hours spent on your business to UWV. When you no longer need benefit, you can stop it. If you fail to get your business off the ground within the start-up period, you will have the option to reopen your unemployment claim.
2.b You start your business with a reduced unemployment benefit
If you start your business while keeping your unemployment benefit, you must report the number of hours spent on your business to UWV. This includes the hours spent on administrative work, or finding clients. Based on the number of hours, UVW will calculate a fictive income which will be deducted from your benefit every month, even in months when business is slow: the fictive income is static. On uwv.nl you can find more information about the fictive income (in Dutch).
2.c You start your business without unemployment benefit
If you start your business without unemployment benefit, you do not have to continue looking for a job or reporting the number of hours you spend on your business. Your unemployment benefit stops. However, you have the option to reopen your unemployment claim in case you are unable to get your business off the ground.
Did you work in education or for the government?
If you worked in education or for the government before becoming unemployed, UVW will ask advice from your ex-employer. Your ex-employer is responsible for your reintegration into the workforce. If you want to be eligible for a research period or start-up period, UWV needs advice from your ex-employer.
3. Register with the Dutch Commercial Register and Dutch Tax and Customs Administration
If you start working as an entrepreneur or self-employed professional, you must first register with the Dutch Commercial Register (Handelsregister) at the Netherlands Chamber of Commerce (KVK). This article will tell you all you need to know about how to register.
4. Make sure to report your working hours to UWV in time
You have to report the number of hours you have worked in your income statement. You can find this on the UWV site. You need your DigiD to login.
Be sure to report in time. If you fail to report your working hours in time, or if you do not report the correct number of hours, your unemployment benefit may be reduced or you may be fined. You can also be fined if you have received more benefit than you were entitled to Plus, you will have to repay the excess benefit you have received.
On the website of UWV you can find more information about filling in your income statement (in Dutch).
5. Report your income to the Dutch Tax and Customs Administration
You must report your income to the Dutch Tax and Customs Administration each year. If you receive entrepreneur allowance (ondernemersaftrek), you must also report the number of hours spent on your business to the Dutch Tax and Customs Administration. Please note: UWV adds entrepreneur allowance to your income.
6. Comply with the rules and obligations
If you receive unemployment benefit, you must comply with certain rules and obligations (in Dutch). For instance, UWV will check whether you report the correct data and if you spend enough hours on your business or seeking for jobs. If you fail to comply with the rules and obligations, UWV may decide to stop your unemployment benefit.
7. Take out loss-of-income insurance
As an entrepreneur with unemployment benefit, you are responsible for taking out loss-of-income insurance due to illness or inability to work. Take a look at other (business) insurances that may be relevant for your business.
8. Notify UWV if you have to end your business
If you were unable to get your business off the ground during or after the start-up period, you must notify UWV. You must show that you have taken sufficient measures (in Dutch) to close your business. One of these measures is deregistering your company from the Dutch Commercial Register. By filling in the application form (wijzigingsformulier WW) on their website, you can notify UWV about ending your business.
You can find more information on how to close a business in the Checklist for ending a business.
9. Reopen your unemployment claim
If you stop working as a self-employed professional, you may be able to reopen your unemployment claim at UWV. Read more about the conditions (in Dutch).