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05 mei 2010

Starting a business in the Netherlands

Gevonden op Iamexpat. Bedenk wel dat legaal verblijf in Nederland afhangt van de nationaliteit van de aanvrager en het soort bedrijf dat diegene in Nederland wil starten.

Starting a business in the Netherlands

16 April 2010

Business ownership can be a wonderful way to
take control of your expatriate life and create a
career that is uniquely your own. Starting a
business in the Netherlands can be complex if
you don’t speak Dutch, but the actual paperwork
isn’t especially difficult and, depending on the
structure you select, you can be up and running
within days.

Who Needs a Business?

The Netherlands is stricter regarding who is an
entrepreneur than some other countries. Unless
you’re conducting freelance activities for only a
few hours a month, you are responsible for:
› registering with the Trade Register
› registering with the Belastingdienst (tax office)
› setting up a proper administration for your

A large part of the decision to start a business is
your intention as well. If you intend to operate a
business full-time, work for multiple clients, or
import/export goods the Kamer van Koophandel
(KvK) will be more likely to recommend business
ownership than if you’d only working for a little
for a single client or not selling goods. Defining
your intentions in a formal way can be difficult,
but worth it. Writing a short business plan and
speaking to a KvK representative can help you
determine your obligations.

Business Structures

Once you’ve decided that you do need to
register a business, its time to select what sort
of structure you wish to operate under. The
structures break down roughly into two options:
non-limited and limited liability. In general, a non
limited liability structure is easier and cheaper to
establish, but you and your family’s assets will
be on the line should your go bankrupt or be
sued later.

› Non-Limited Structures
- Eenmanszaak (Sole Proprieter/Sole Trader)
- Partnership
- VOF (Partnership under common firm, such as
for married partners)

› Limited Structures
- BV (Private Limited Liability Company)
- Foundation
- Association

ZZP or Freelance?

These days many people chose to work as
freelancers in their field; performing a variety of
tasks for other companies. In the Netherlands
such people are known as both ZZP’ers and
Freelancers. It’s important to keep in mind that
ZZP is not an official Trade Register structure
and you’ll need to select another structure to
register; generally an eenmanszaak.

ZZP’ers have the extra business concern of
ensuring that he/she is not considered to be an
employee by the Tax Office at the end of the
year. If you are ruled the employee of one of
your clients, they will be on the hook for a
variety of payroll tax payments for you; a
potentially devestating situation. Plus you’ll lose
your independence. You can ensure your ZZP
status by having at least 3 clients and intending
to invest a minimum of 2.500 euros per year.
Your can register this intent by filling out a VAR
Verklaring form for the Tax Office. Some clients
may require you to do so.

Register with Trade Register

Once you’ve selected your business structure
and written at least a minimal business plan (the
KvK needs to know what you're marketing, to
whom, how, your investment, and expected
results), you are ready to register your business.

Non-limited business owners can simply
complete the appropriate form (in Dutch) for their
structure and take it to the local KvK along with
your ID, partner (if applicable), and other
paperwork required according to the form. The
KvK staff will register you in Trade Register and
you’ll pay a registration fee which varies by
region and structure. This is a yearly fee to keep
you in the Register.

Limited businesses are more complex to start
since you’re essentially creating a corporation.
The best advise here is to speak with expert.
The KvK can help you determine if you need a
limited structure and contact the appropriate

Keep in mind that you can register multiple
business names and multiple activities under a
single structure. Also, your information in the
Trade Register is completely public (so be ready
for junk mail).

Registering with the Belastingdienst

If you’re registering an eenmanszaak or
partnership, you can register for a BTW (turnover
tax) number simultaneously at the KvK. Simply
complete a Joint Registration form and bring it
with you when you register with the Trade
Register. The Belastingdienst will later send you
a form to complete the information in their
system and a login and password for their online

Everyone else must register directly with the
Belastingdienst after the Trade Register to obtain
a BTW number. You can request a
Starterspakket which contains an “Opgaaf
gegevens startende ondernemers” (Statement of
information by a new business) form to help the
tax office determine if you need a VAT number.
The Stater Centre are your KvK may be able to
assist you with this. As with the Trade Register,
you should consult a professional if you have a
complex structure.

If you have questions regarding what taxes to
pay and what taxes to charge, you’ll have to
take these to the Belastingdient’s website or a
professional. Some information is available in
English, but their Help Desk line is Dutch-only.

Setting up Your Business Administration

Finally you’ll need to set up your business
administration to be compliant with Dutch
standards. This is quite straight forward and
listed on the English side of the KvK’s website.
You are required to keep your books and
documents for 7 years and they should include
everything involving money, goods, and services
that flow between your company and the greater
world. You are also responsible for tracking your
BTW (turnover tax), and creating sequential,
informative invoices.

The Extra Stuff

Of course there is a lot of extra stuff to keep in
mind when starting your business, such as
insurance, stationary, selection of office or store
space, staff etc. Your business plan should help
you understand what needs to be done. If you
need help, take advantage of the KvK’s Starter
Centre to speak with a free advisor or visit their
website (Dutch only).

Answers are not always easy to come by, so
stay flexible, ask questions and get start!

by Amanda Potter
Amanda Potter blogs about expat life in
Maastricht at Her
business website for writing, research, and web
design is

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