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September 22, 2017

How to start a business in the Netherlands

The Netherlands is at this moment one of the most productive economies in Europe with some of the newest high-tech industries leading it. It could be said this is one of the main reasons the Low Lands attracts a great number of young entrepreneurs and also students who remain here after finishing their studies.

In the past few years, the government has realized how valuable having a young and creative workforce is for the Dutch economy and has enabled various programs which support entrepreneurs who want to open companies here.

Minimum requirements for opening a Dutch company

There are no difficult/complex measures or steps you need to take when starting the registration procedure of a Dutch company. So, you will first need to decide on the form your company will take. You can choose mainly between the simple sole proprietorship, partnership and limited liability company; however, the private limited liability company is the most advantageous structure in the Netherlands. Known as the Dutch BV, the private limited liability company is suitable for both small and medium-sized businesses and implies no minimum amount of money deposited as a share capital.

So, you will only need to calculate how much you need to invest and make some projections on the expenses the company will have until it starts making profit. Generally, the amount will depend on the industry you will work in. You will also need to choose a name for the company and reserve it with the Dutch Trade Register or Chamber of Commerce, shortly known as the KVK. Compared to a few years ago, when the company name would have been searched with the Chamber of Commerce, now the KVK only verifies if the name is authentic.

Back to what you need for starting a business in the Netherlands, we mentioned earlier a set of documents. These are called articles of association and need to be drafted before a public notary. This step takes very little to complete.  You will have to set up the bank account of the company before starting the actual registration process.

The documents you need to file with the KVK

If you have prepared the company incorporation papers and chosen a name for the business, it is time to move on to the next step which is filing the documents with the Trade Register. Apart from the business registration papers, you must also present a copy of your identification papers (ID, passport) and a bank account statement. Once you file these documents, you are one step closer to having your company up and running, as in the next hours following the submission of the paper, the Trade Register will issue a registration number for the business. It may take longer if the certificate of registration is sent by mail.

The registration of the company must also be published in the Dutch Official Gazette, however that is not your job, but the Trade Register’s duty.

Final steps to have a company incorporated in the Netherlands

The Dutch economy functions based on the taxes received by the state, so your company too will have to pay its dues. Don’t worry though, the Netherlands has a very good taxation system with low taxes and plenty of incentives.

In order to be able to pay these taxes, you must have the company registered with the local tax authorities by filing a registration form. You must also obtain a VAT number, for which another form must be filed. The income and VAT numbers will take a while to be issued, so you will need to consider the registration of the company ahead if you plan on starting to operate sooner rather than later, as you can wait about a month for these numbers.

If you will hire workers, you will also be required to register with the social security authorities as an employer.

If we’re talking about accounting and payroll, it wouldn’t hurt to hire an accountant who handles these matters.

Setting up a business in the Netherlands is not difficult or expensive, however take your time to research the economy, the industry and anything else which could help you and maybe even ask for a little help before getting started.

The views and opinions expressed herein are the author's own, and do not necessarily reflect those of EconMatters.

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