Starting a business as a student

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

Are you a student? And do you want to start a business in the Netherlands? Find out what you need to know and what you have to arrange in order to start your business.

The Dutch government encourages initiatives that ensure that students are able to combine their studies with building a successful business. For example, it should be possible for an entrepreneurial student to graduate while running their own business. You can approach the Centre of Entrepreneurship at your university or college for practical assistance and support.

In general, the rules, regulations you will have to deal with as a (starting) student entrepreneur and subsidies you can applu for are often the same as for other entrepreneurs.

1. Check if you are allowed to start a business as a foreign student

Foreign students in the Netherlands can start a business alongside their studies. This is true if you are an EU-citizen, or if you are a non-EU citizen with a valid student visa or residence permit. You do not need additional documents or visa from the IND. Nor do you need a work permit (TWV, tewerkstellingsvergunning) from the Employee Insurance Agency UWV. You only need a TWV if you work in paid employment. There is no legal limit to the number of hours you spend on your business.

2. Determine whether you are an entrepreneur

Do you have a hobby or a business? Sometimes this is difficult to determine. You do not always have to register with the Netherlands Chamber of Commerce KVK. For example, do you bake cakes for friends and family? Then you do not need to register. KVK has described conditions to assess whether you are an entrepreneur or not. Do you meet these conditions? Then you can register in the Business Register (step 6). The Netherlands Tax Administration will then assess whether you are also an entrepreneur for VAT and income tax purposes.

Also read the example situations of entrepreneurs who do or do not register on KVK.nl.

When you start your own business, you need a legal structure.

The legal structure determines, among other things:

  • whether you are responsible for damages and debts: your liability
  • which taxes you have to pay
  • any tax advantages

Use the decision tool to determine which legal structure suits your situation. Also, watch the video Choose a legal structure.

Please note that freelancer or zzp’er (zelfstandige zonder personeel) are not legal structures. If you want to work as a sole trader, you choose the legal structure sole proprietorship.

Watch the KVK video: Choose a legal structure.

4. Choose a company name

For your registration at the Chamber of Commerce KVK, you need a company name. A good company name is recognisable, sticks and makes it clear what you have to offer. Check in advance whether your company name already exists.

Watch the KVK video: Come up with a unique business name.

In the Netherlands, minors (younger than 18 years of age) who own a business need permission from their parents for legal actions. For example, if you take out a telephone subscription, or if you want to borrow money from a bank. Do you want to perform legal acts without your parents' permission? Then you can apply to the subdistrict court for limited legal capacity (handlichting). You have to be at least 16 or 17 years old to do so. Please note that you will be personally liable.

6. Register with KVK

Register in the Business Register of the KVK. This costs a one-off registration fee. The KVK passes on your details to the Netherlands Tax Administration. You do not have to register separately with the Netherlands Tax Administration. The Netherlands Tax Administration then determines whether you are also an entrepreneur for VAT and income tax purposes.

If the Netherlands Tax Administration records you as an entrepreneur for VAT purposes, you will automatically receive your VAT tax number and your VAT identification number. Are you a minor? When registering, bring proof of limited legal capacity (step 5). Or bring your parent or guardian with you.

Watch the KVK video: Register your business at KVK.

Shielding visiting address of a sole proprietorship

Have you opted for the legal structure of a sole proprietorship? Then you can shield your visiting address in the KVK Business Register. For example, because you have registered your business at your home address and do not want everyone to be able to look it up. You will then have to register another postal address.

Read more about shielding your address details on KVK.nl.

7. Check your student finance

Income from your business will not affect your student loans. You can earn unlimited additional income since 2020. It does not matter whether you do mbo, hbo, or university.

Consequences for child benefit

If you are a minor, your parents or guardians may receive child benefit (kinderbijslag) for you. The additional income you make with your business does not have any consequences on the child benefit, until and including the age of 17.

8. Secure funding

Do you need money to start your business? There are several ways to get financing for your business:

Watch the KVK video: Make a financial plan and find out if you need funding.

9. Keep business records

As an entrepreneur, you need to set up and keep business records. Make sure your records meet the requirements. For example, you should clearly show how much tax you have to pay or how much VAT you get back or have to pay. You can participate in the small businesses scheme (KOR).

Watch the KVK video: Manage your business records and learn about taxes.

10. Arrange general terms and conditions and insurance

You may have to deal with business risks. Such as damage caused by fire or theft. You can cover such risks with insurance. For example, with business interruption insurance or inventory insurance. It is also wise to take out a business liability insurance and disability insurance.

With general terms and conditions, you make it immediately clear what rights and obligations you and your customers have reciprocally.

Watch the KVK video: Arrange general terms and conditions and insurances.

Pension

Do not forget your pension and retirement. Because you do not work for an employer, you do not automatically build up a pension. You need to arrange for your retirement yourself. Read more about building up a pension.

11. Find customers

How do you find customers? Many entrepreneurs find customers through their network. See what events and meetings (in Dutch) there are in your region and attend networking events.

Watch the KVK video: Find your customers.

Internship at your own company

It is possible to do an internship or graduate at your own company. There are educational institutions that encourage student entrepreneurs with a Top Entrepreneurs scheme (TOR). Ask your (future) educational institution about the options.

Support

The following organisations promote the interests of student entrepreneurs. You can contact them for more information. Please note: these websites are all in Dutch.

External links

Questions relating to this article?

Please contact theNetherlands Chamber of Commerce, KVK