The Netherlands is an attractive business destination, as evidenced by the high density of companies in the country. It flaunts an appeal to over 170 million EU consumers with easy access to 95% of Europe's major markets through its advanced infrastructure.

The World Economic Forum named the country as Europe's most competitive economy. The Netherlands offers tax advantages with a 19% corporate tax rate. The country also introduced special exemptions for expats through 46 trade agreements and more than 100 tax treaties.

With a GDP per capita surpassing EU averages, the high quality of life in the Netherlands attracts both businesses and professionals. The Netherlands also prides itself on its open and inclusive culture. This enables the country to retain a skilled, multilingual workforce. Its Expat Centers further contribute to further diversity.

The Dutch government has also implemented policies to ease the entry of foreign entrepreneurs, such as through the Dutch startup visa. Based on the Global Remote Working Index 2023, it also excels as a top choice for global business and remote work.

Hence, embarking on a startup venture in the Netherlands is an exciting prospect. However, foreign entrepreneurs planning to live in the country must meet specific conditions. This may involve obtaining a temporary and permanent residence permit and other administrative and financial requirements.

Administrative preparation

Based on EU laws, foreign nationals from the EU, EEA, and Switzerland are allowed to live and work in the country. Non-nationals may require a provisional residence permit (MVV) and a work permit (TWV).

Foreigners on specific passes may receive incentives and support to establish businesses in the Netherlands. Some of these special passes are the orange carpet facility, startup visa, and self-employment scheme. The Netherlands’ Startup Visa program, for instance, provides a one-year resident permit for non-EU entrepreneurs facilitating innovative products and services.

Check whether you need professional qualifications. While most businesses don't require separate qualifications, specific professions may necessitate professional certifications.

The Netherlands Chamber of Commerce (KVK) has certain criteria for qualifying as an entrepreneur. The criteria encompass the way a business engages with others and competes with fellow entrepreneurs.

Meanwhile, the Netherlands Tax and Customs Administration (Belastingdienst) further evaluates entrepreneurs based on VAT and income tax conditions. The assessment revolves around factors such as independence, business size, risk, and continuity.

The Netherlands Foreign Investment Agency (NFIA) can be a valuable partner when you are overwhelmed. It offers free advice and hands-on support for foreign entrepreneurs navigating the complexities of setting up and expanding businesses in the country.


Legal structure

Foreigners seeking to start a business in the Netherlands can choose from various legal structures. The most common forms are private limited companies (BV) or public limited companies (NV). Other structures include cooperatives (coöperatie), general partnerships (VOF), and limited partnerships (CV).

You should select a unique trade name before registering your company in the Dutch Business Register (Handelsregister) at KVK. The company registration process also involves fulfilling local municipality requirements.

These requirements may include environmental regulations, fire safety measures, reporting home businesses, and obtaining permits for building activities. You might also be required to create business accounts and assess your insurance needs.

Then, the Dutch tax administration is notified, with specific procedures for private limited companies. Businesses intending to hire employees must also register as employers with the tax administration. This also means they must adhere to payroll taxes and social security regulations.

Financial preparation

One of the pivotal questions aspiring entrepreneurs often have is about the financial requirements for starting a business in the Netherlands.

The country has set financial benchmarks that applicants must meet to qualify for a Dutch startup visa. The exact amount varies based on factors such as the nature of the business and industry. Initial expenses may include legal fees, registration costs, office space, and operational capital.

The cost of incorporation varies for different legal structures, with one-time registration fees of EUR 51.95. Other additional expenses include notary/legal fees between EUR 500-2,200 and annual accounting costs between EUR 500-1,800 or based on the company’s size for NV.

The Netherlands Enterprise Agency (RVO) reveals that the startup capital requirement starts from EUR 0.01 for BV and starts from EUR 45,000 for NV.

For VAT purposes, entrepreneurs with an annual turnover under EUR 20,000 can benefit from the small business scheme (KOR). This scheme exempts them from VAT payments and declarations.

On top of preparing your business' administrative needs, planning for these financial aspects is crucial for a smooth company establishment in the Netherlands.


Work with a trusted partner

To help you navigate the overall process, Unusual Companies can be a trusted partner. Our services can ensure a seamless journey with a track record of over 400 company establishments.

We go beyond simple company establishment services. Our agency also offers Dutch Startup Visa consultancy and a specialized Business Accelerator Program for startups. Partner with our experienced team for reliable personalized service, and ensure your success in the Netherlands.