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The Netherlands (Holland) - Starting a Business

Foreign citizens of any nationality aged below 60 are allowed to run a business in the Netherlands if they meet certain requirements and are approved by the Dutch authorities to enter the Netherlands with the purpose of running a business. To enter the Netherlands with the purpose of running a business, you will be required to hold a valid passport or EU identify card, an authorization temporary stay visa if you are a non-EU national, health insurance, and evidence of sufficient funds to support yourself and any dependents in the Netherlands. Non-EU/EEA/Swiss nationals are required to undergo a tuberculosis examination after arrival in the Netherlands.

In order to obtain approval to run a business in the Netherlands, you must be able to demonstrate that it is a new company, or a new branch of an existing company, which will serve a "material economic purpose" in the Netherlands, and that it is necessary for you to run this company within the Netherlands.

Additionally, for most types of business you are required to have specific professional or business qualifications. These may include the Dutch General Business Skills Diploma (Algemene Ondernemers Vaardigheden), unless you already hold an MBA or equivalent qualification. Information on the requirements can be obtained from the Dutch Chamber of Commerce, which is also a good source of information and advice on other aspects of running a business in the Netherlands. The Netherlands Organization for International Cooperation in Higher Education (Nuffic) provides a foreign qualification accreditation service which will confirm whether or not your qualifications meet the standards required for conducting business in the Netherlands.

When submitting an application to the Immigration and Naturalisation Service (IND) to establish a company in the Netherlands you will be required to include a full business plan and any other relevant business information in the case of a new company; and company registration details, certified accounts, tax documentation and other relevant information for a subsidiary of an existing company. You also need to obtain a permit to run a business in the Netherlands from the local Chamber of Commerce (Kamers van Koophandel). With the exception of certain categories of freelance individuals, all businesses and other forms of self-employment have to be registered publicly with the Chamber of Commerce.

You will also be required to contact the Dutch Tax Office and complete an "Opgaaf gegevens startende ondernemers" form with information about your business, on the basis of which the Tax Office will make an assessment of the taxes that you will be liable for in the Netherlands, as well as any tax allowances. Dutch business taxes include Value Added Tax (VAT), Income Tax, Wages and Salaries Tax and Corporation Tax (for private companies with limited liability).

The main forms of business or self-employment in Holland are:

- Sole traders or freelancers (Eenmanszaak)
- General partnerships (Vennootschap Onder Firma or "VOF")
- Limited partnerships (Commanditaire Vennootschap or "CV")
- Private companies with limited liability (Besloten vennootschap or "BV")
- Public corporation with limited liability (Naamloze vennootschap or "NV")

BVs are normally used for subsidiaries of larger companies, joint venture companies and family businesses, and NVs for larger companies with shares publicly listed. All of these types of business have different legal obligations and entitlements in terms of profits, tax payments and allowances and liability to creditors.

Some freelancers are defined as self-employed and some as employees in the Netherlands, depending on whether or not they have a contract of employment.

Useful contacts:

Institut voor Midden en Kleinbedrijf (Institute for Small and Medium-Sized Companies):

Huizermaatweg 610
1276 LN Huizen
Postbus 119
1270 AC Huizen
Tel.: (035) 750 79 00
Fax.:(035) 750 79 01

Paradijslaan 20b
5611 KN Eindhoven
Postbus 472
5600 AL Eindhoven
Tel.: (040) 239 49 30
Fax.:(040) 245 82 30

Govert Flinkstraat 1
8021 ET Zwolle
Postbus 728
8000 AS Zwolle
Tel.: (038) 455 55 00
Fax.:(038) 455 55 20


Netherlands Organization for International Cooperation in Higher Education
Kortenaerkade 11
2518 AX The Hague
The Netherlands
Tel: +31 (0)70 - 426 02 60
Fax: +31 (0)70 - 426 03 99

Netherlands Chamber of Commerce
Regional office contact details at

Read more about this country

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