You can start a business in the Netherlands while you live abroad. You must have structural physical business activities in the Netherlands and you need to have a business address to do so. This checklist serves as a guideline to help you start your business from abroad.
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1. Learn about the Dutch business climate and culture
Once you have decided that you want to start a business in the Netherlands, it can be helpful to educate yourself about the Dutch business climate and culture. What is it like to do business in the Netherlands? What cultural aspects do you need to take into account? What should you avoid when doing business with Dutch business partners? Watch our webinar about the Dutch business climate and culture for inspiration.
Do you already have a business abroad, and do you want to expand your business activities to the Netherlands? You can start a branch office or a subsidiary. Read the article Setting up a branch office or subsidiary in the Netherlands to determine which is the best choice for you.
2. Which legal business structure do I choose for my business?
If you want to start a business in the Netherlands, you first have to consider which legal structure you choose for your business. The business structure most suitable for your company depends on several factors. For example, do you mind being personally liable? Do you have a business partner? Are you hiring staff?
The legal structure determines such issues as liability and tax obligations. Also bear in mind that if you choose a legal structure with legal personality, such as a private limited company (BV), you need a civil-law notary in order to draw up notarial deeds.
Tool for choosing a Dutch legal structure
If you want to set up a business, but you are in two minds about which legal structure to choose, use our Tool for choosing a Dutch legal structure. It will guide you through some of the main considerations, such as liability, staff and taxes, and give you advice suited to your needs and wishes.
3. Do I need a business address in the Netherlands?
You need a business address in the Netherlands in order to register your business. Please note: you cannot use a P.O. box address as your business address.
I live in a border region of the Netherlands
If you live in a border region of the Netherlands, and you can prove that you have structural physical business activities in the Netherlands, you can register your company in the Netherlands with your private foreign address as your business address. Note: you do not automatically receive a Dutch VAT-id. Please contact the Dutch Tax and Customs Administration (Belastingdienst) for more information.
4. How do I register my business with the Netherlands Chamber of Commerce?
Registering in the Netherlands
If you want to register your company in the Dutch Business Register, you have to make an appointment with the Netherlands Chamber of Commerce (KVK). Fill out the online form as much as possible before coming to your appointment. If you do not have a private foreign address (e.g. digital nomads), you cannot register yourself. There is a one-time registration fee.
In order to register with the Netherlands Chamber of Commerce, you need to bring the following:
- Valid ID;
- Copy of signed lease, rental or sales contract of your Dutch business address;
- Registration fee (card payment only).
Registering from abroad
In some exceptional cases, you may register with the Dutch Business Register from abroad. The Netherlands Chamber of Commerce will check whether you have sufficient sustainable economic activities in the Netherlands and may ask you for supporting evidence. In order to register, you need to fill out the registration form and send it to the Netherlands Chamber of Commerce, accompanied with the following documents:
- Legalised copy of your valid ID;
- Copy of a signed lease-, rental- or sales contract of your Dutch business address;
- Legalised original extract or official copy of a civil status record from your municipality or a document from an official institution on which your foreign address is stated (e.g. bank statement).
The Netherlands Chamber of Commerce has several postal addresses. Which postal address you need to send your documents to, depends on where you register your business.
5. Do I need to register with the Dutch Tax and Customs Administration?
If you choose a legal structure without legal entity, like a sole proprietorship or a partnership, the Netherlands Chamber of Commerce will pass on your details to the Dutch Tax and Customs Administration (Belastingdienst). They in turn will issue you with a VAT identification number (VAT-id), to use for correspondence and invoices to your customers, and a VAT number, to use for your dealings with the Tax Administration. You will receive these numbers from the Tax and Customs Administration by mail.
If you have chosen a private limited company, cooperative or public limited company as your legal structure, your civil-law notary will take care of the registration at both the Netherlands Chamber of Commerce and the Dutch Tax Administration on your behalf.
6. Dutch residency
Be aware that you do not obtain Dutch citizenship when you start a business in the Netherlands. If you intend to move to the Netherlands to live and work, you may need a residence permit. The Dutch Immigration and Naturalisation Service (Immigratie- en Naturalisatiedienst, IND) issues residence permits. To find out if you need one, check our interactive Coming to the Netherlands as an entrepreneur page.
7. Paying taxes
If you make an income in the Netherlands, you are subject to Dutch income tax. In most cases you have to file for an income tax return in the Netherlands. You also need to pay VAT on most products and services. In the Netherlands there are three VAT rates. You can obtain an exemption for some goods and services. The exact rules that apply to your situation depend on several factors. For example, what type of products or service do you offer? Do you import products or services? Are they from an EU-country or a non-EU country? You may have to deal with other taxes as well, depending on your situation. For example, do you hire staff? Then you may have to withhold payroll taxes. You may also be entitled to deductions or tax credit.
Since there are so many factors that determine which taxes you have to pay, we recommend you to ask advice from a tax intermediary. They can help you with all tax-related issues you may encounter when setting up your business from abroad. You can also have a look at the Tax Administration website for more information on taxes. If you still have questions, you can call the Tax Information Line for Non-resident Tax Issues.
8. Keep business records
If you have a business in the Netherlands, you are legally obliged to keep records and to retain them for at least 7 years. You must keep data related to immovable property for at least 10 years. If you supply electronic services, broadcasting or telecommunications services, you must also keep the data for 10 years. The obligation also applies when your business ceases trading within the specified period. Also keep in mind that if you run a company in the Netherlands with legal personality, you have to file your annual financial accounts every year with the Netherlands Chamber of Commerce.
9. Moving abroad while continuing your business in the Netherlands
If you move abroad, but want to continue your business activities in the Netherlands, you have to have a business address in the Netherlands. You must also report your new private address to the Netherlands Chamber of Commerce. They will check whether you still have business activities in the Netherlands. When you choose to discontinue your business activities, you need to deregister yourself from the Netherlands Chamber of Commerce.