Steps to start a business in the Netherlands

Starting your own business in the Netherlands brings a lot of excitement but also some challenges. Here are the steps you need to take when doing so.


Step 1: Residence & Work permit

To be able to start up a business in the Netherlands you must first make sure that you can stay in the Netherlands. If you are an EU, EEA and Swiss nationals, you are permitted to live and work in the Netherlands under EU law. If you don’t, you will need to apply for a provisional residence permit (MVV) and in some cases a work permit (TWV).

In the Netherlands, it is also possible to apply for a residence permit as a self-employed entrepreneur. Your business must serve an essential Dutch interest if you do so and gather points for which a minimum number of points must be met for the application to be successful.

It is also possible to apply for a Startup visa for entrepreneurs. This is an one-year residence permit specifically tailored to international entrepreneurs who want to launch a business in the Netherlands.


Step 2: Legal business form

When you can legally live and work in the Netherlands you can start your business.

The next step is to determine the legal structure your business. This is important, as it determines the liability for your business debts and tax obligations.

The different Dutch legal business forms (rechtsvormen) are:

  • Unincorporated business structures. In these unincorporated legal forms, you and your private assets are liable for the debts of your business.
    • Eenmanszaak: one person business. Mostly used by freelancers and small business owners.
    • Vennootschap onder firma (VOF): general partnership
    • Maatschap: professional partnership
    • Commanditaire vennootschap (CV): limited partnership
  • Incorporated business structures (Rechtvormen met rechtspersoonlijkheid). In these incorporated legal forms you and your private assets are protected from the debts of your business.
    • Besloten vennootschap (BV): private limited company
    • Naamloze vennootschap (NV): public limited company
    • Coöperatie en onderlinge waarborgmaatschappij: cooperatives and mutual insurance societies
    • Stichting: foundation
    • Vereniging: association



Step 3: Business registration at the KvK

After you decides on your type of business , you need to register your business with the KvK (the Dutch Chamber of Commerce), which will enter it in the Dutch Trade Register.

For the registration you’ll need:

  • A suitable name that is not already in the Dutch Trade Registry
  • Completed KvK registration form. You can do this yourself but MO-HR can also assist you with this.
  • Schedule an appointment with KvK
  • Show a valid ID
  • Pay the fee

Once you have registered you’ll be given a unique business number, known as the KvK nummer. You will need to use this on all your invoices for your new business.

If you are starting an unincorporated business you can register with the Belastingdienst during your KvK appointment tot get your VAT number. If you are starting an incorporated business (BV, NV, cooperatie, stichting, vereniging) then you can request the notary to register with the Belastingdienst.


Step 4: Business taxes

You need this tax number so that you can claim VAT deductions on the investments you make to start the business.

If you have a business you’ll need to pay some or all of the following taxes:

  • BTW (VAT)
  • Income tax
  • Payroll tax . If you have employees, you need to deduct payroll tax from their salaries. Payroll tax includes wage tax and national insurance and pension contributions.
  • Corporation tax. If you have an incorporated business, such as a BV or NV, then you need to calculate and pay corporation tax (vennootschapsbelasting).

Besides these taxes there are different kinds of tax benefits possible, depending on your business.


Step 5: Business administration

When you’re set to go, you’ll need to keep track of all your business expenses and income. You need to keep record of this business administration for atleast seven years under the Dutch law.


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