Want to start a business in the Netherlands as an expat? Keep this in mind

The Netherlands is a great place to start your own business. There are plenty of market opportunities, people are open to new developments and also want to pay for them.
On the other hand ... in the Netherlands there are a large number of administrative matters that you have to take into account when starting your own business. To start a business here, for example, you must first ensure that you are actually allowed to live and work in the Netherlands.
Are you not from an EU or EEA country or are you not a Swiss citizen? Then you must apply for an MVV ("Authorization for Provisional Residence") and in some cases a work permit (TWV). When applying, bear in mind that your intended company must serve an essential Dutch interest.

Dutch legal forms

When you are sure that you can live and work in the Netherlands, it is time to decide which legal form your company will take. It is important to choose a structure with the correct legal form, since this determines liability for tax obligations.

This can be quite complicated, luckily there are service providers like Holland Startup who help you make such decisions. For example, freelancers and small entrepreneurs usually opt for the sole trader structure, where the most common form for larger companies is a private limited company.

Company registration at the Chamber of Commerce

When you have decided which type of business you want to start, register with the Chamber of Commerce. This is mandatory. Registration must take place from one week before the start of the work to one week after the start of the work.

As soon as your company is registered with the Chamber of Commerce, you will receive a unique company number, also known as the Chamber of Commerce number. It is mandatory to use this number on all invoices and outgoing mail.

Dutch Corporate Tax

In addition to registering with the Chamber of Commerce, your company must also be registered with the Tax Authorities. It is wise to register as soon as possible so that you can claim a VAT deduction.

How does Dutch VAT work?

- When you invoice customers for your services or when they pay for your products, you must add 21% extra VAT tax to your normal rate.
- You calculate the VAT return every quarter and you pay the VAT to the tax authorities.
- You pay VAT, but you can deduct VAT from operating costs.


In addition to VAT, business owners in the Netherlands pay some or all of the following taxes:

  • Income tax
  • Payroll tax (when you have employees)
  • Corporation tax (only applicable to companies with legal personality)

You can of course also contact Holland Startup for help with Dutch business tax.

Business Administration

In the Netherlands, companies are required to keep business records. Every entrepreneur is legally obliged to keep this administration for 7 years. The Business Administration includes:

- Invoices sent and received
- Bank statements
- Contracts and agreements
- Costs of business activities

Last but not least - insurance and pensions

As an independent entrepreneur you simply run risks and you have many responsibilities.
Taking out insurance protects you against such risks and more importantly: taking out insurance can guarantee an income if you cannot work yourself. The three most important insurance policies for entrepreneurs can be found below:

  1. As an entrepreneur you are liable for personal injury and material damage that you, your product or your employees cause on your behalf. That is why one business liability insurance of interest. This insurance reimburses the damage that you cause to others from your company.
  2. Another common insurance is the disability insurance with which you are assured of an income if you are ill for a long time.
  3. A health insurance is compulsory for everyone in the Netherlands. As an entrepreneur you pay a contribution based on your taxable income.

Conflicts occur, both with customers, employees or suppliers. It happens to everyone. That is why many starting entrepreneurs take out legal assistance insurance. When taking out this insurance you can count on help and advice with legal problems.

At Holland Startup, first-time entrepreneurs fulfill their entrepreneurial ambitions. We guide, coach and finance young entrepreneurs to turn ideas into successful startups.
We enable young entrepreneurs to shape our society! Are you in?

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