Starting a Business in the Netherlands as a Foreigner in 2024-25: Complete Guide

In this article, we you will learn about starting a business in the Netherlands as a Foreigner in 2024-25. Read the complete article to know more or contact OnDemand International's expert today to setup your company in the Netherlands.


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    Table of Contents

    In the dynamic ecosystem of global business, the Netherlands emerges as a beacon for entrepreneurs seeking stability, innovation, and a gateway to the European market. Registering a company in the Netherlands not only paves the way for operational excellence but also opens avenues for international trade and investment. The process, while straightforward, requires careful navigation through legal frameworks and adherence to regulatory standards, underscoring the importance of understanding the steps involved. This guide aims to unravel the intricacies of how to start a business in the Netherlands, ensuring that prospective business owners are well-equipped with the knowledge needed to embark on this journey.

    The article is structured to provide a comprehensive roadmap for registering a company in the Netherlands. Initially, it delves into the Dutch business environment, highlighting the economic landscape and the benefits of setting up a business in this jurisdiction. Following this, it discusses the importance of choosing the right legal structure, outlining the various options available and their implications for taxation and liability. Subsequently, the guide navigates through the registration process, detailing each step to ensure compliance with Dutch law. Managing taxation and compliance is also a critical aspect covered, providing insights into the fiscal responsibilities and regulatory requirements. Concluding the guide, a summary reiterates the key points, equipping entrepreneurs with the essential knowledge to successfully start a business in the Netherlands.

    Understanding the Dutch Business Environment

    The Economy and Innovation in the Netherlands

    The Netherlands is recognized globally for its strategic commercial location and robust economy. With a population density that rivals major global cities, it serves as a central hub in Europe. Approximately 170 million consumers are within a 300-mile radius, benefiting from the advanced infrastructure that supports efficient transport of goods, data, and people. Key distribution points like Rotterdam, Europe’s largest port, and Amsterdam Schiphol Airport, which ranks fourth in Europe for cargo, underscore the country’s logistical strengths.

    Economically, the Netherlands boasts a consistent track record of high rankings on various international indexes. In 2022, it was ranked as the fifth most competitive economy in the world by the IMD Competitive Index, reflecting its conducive environment for innovation and sustainable prosperity. This is further supported by its top rankings in the Global Innovation Index and the Education First English Proficiency Index.

    The Dutch economy experienced significant growth in 2021 and 2022, with increases in household consumption and employment. This growth trajectory positions the Netherlands as a resilient economy in Europe, despite global economic challenges.

    Cultural Considerations and Work-Life Balance

    Dutch business culture highly values efficiency and direct communication. Meetings are structured with full agendas to maximize productivity and are generally formal at the onset. The Dutch prefer to engage in business discussions promptly and appreciate concise, evidence-backed proposals. This approach is reflective of a broader cultural emphasis on pragmatism and straightforwardness.

    In terms of work-life balance, the Netherlands is known for its egalitarian values. Decision-making is often a result of group consensus rather than hierarchical directives, and there is a significant emphasis on quality and fair dealings in business practices. The Dutch work culture also supports a healthy balance between professional and personal life, contributing to its high rankings in global happiness indexes.

    The Role of the Dutch Chamber of Commerce

    The Dutch Chamber of Commerce (KVK) plays a pivotal role in supporting businesses in the Netherlands. It manages the Dutch Business Register and provides essential services such as business advice, support for innovation, and assistance with international trade. For entrepreneurs, the KVK is a crucial resource for navigating the regulatory landscape, offering tools and information on everything from business registration to funding opportunities.

    KVK’s initiatives like the Financing Desk are particularly beneficial for new businesses seeking investment. By facilitating connections with potential investors and providing guidance on financial options, KVK helps strengthen the entrepreneurial ecosystem in the Netherlands.

    In summary, understanding the Dutch business environment is crucial for any entrepreneur looking to enter this market. The combination of a strategic location, a competitive and innovative economy, and a supportive institutional framework makes the Netherlands a favorable destination for business and investment.

    Choosing the Right Legal Structure

    When starting a business in the Netherlands, entrepreneurs must carefully select an appropriate legal structure, as it influences liability, tax obligations, and the necessity for a civil-law notary for certain structures like a private limited company (BV).

    Unincorporated vs. Incorporated Business Structures

    In the Netherlands, business structures are categorized into unincorporated and incorporated entities. Unincorporated business structures, such as sole traders and partnerships, do not provide legal separation between personal and business assets, exposing owners to personal liability for business debts. Conversely, incorporated structures like private limited companies (BV) and public limited companies (NV) offer legal personality, shielding personal assets from business liabilities]. This distinction is crucial as it affects the financial security of the business owner and the requirements for tax and legal compliance.

    Sole Traders and Private Limited Companies

    For individual entrepreneurs, the sole trader (eenmanszaak) is a popular choice due to its simplicity and ease of setup. However, sole traders are fully liable for any business debts, which could affect personal financial stability. On the other hand, a private limited company (BV) offers limited liability, meaning the personal assets of the shareholders are protected against business debts. The decision to choose between these forms should consider factors such as the scale of the business, the desired level of personal risk, and the potential for business growth which may necessitate a more complex structure like a BV for tax and liability benefits.

    Requirements for Foreign Entrepreneurs

    Foreign entrepreneurs looking to establish a business in the Netherlands have the option to form a Dutch BV, which is advantageous for its flexible formation requirements and beneficial tax regime. Notably, there are no residency requirements for directors, although having a resident director may comply with substance requirements and facilitate tax advantages. The process involves registration with the KVK and the Dutch Tax Administration, typically handled by a civil-law notary]. Additionally, for entrepreneurs under the start-up visa scheme, a detailed business plan and a local mentor are required to guide them through the initial phases of business setup.

    Choosing the right legal structure is pivotal in setting the foundation for business success in the Netherlands. Entrepreneurs must weigh the benefits and responsibilities that come with each legal form to align with their business goals and personal risk tolerance.

    How to Register a Business in the Netherlands as a Foreigner?

    Selecting a Unique Business Name

    When registering a new business in the Netherlands, selecting a unique trade name is essential. The chosen name should not create a wrong impression, infringe on existing brand names, or resemble the names of existing businesses too closely. Additionally, it should not include special characters such as parentheses or exclamation marks. To ensure the name is appropriate and available, entrepreneurs can utilize the Dutch Chamber of Commerce’s (Kamer van Koophandel or KvK) website to check name availability.

    Obtaining Necessary Visas and Residency Permits

    For entrepreneurs from outside the EU/EEA or Switzerland, obtaining the appropriate visas and residency permits is crucial. This may include a residence permit or a specific permit for foreign startups. Tools like ‘Coming to the Netherlands as an entrepreneur’ can help determine the necessary steps based on one’s individual circumstances. For innovative startup entrepreneurs, a temporary residence permit, which includes guidance from an experienced facilitator, is available. This permit allows one year to launch the business, with the possibility of applying through the Immigration and Naturalisation Service (IND).

    Registering with the Dutch Chamber of Commerce

    All businesses in the Netherlands must register with the Dutch Chamber of Commerce (KvK). This registration process includes obtaining a KvK number, essential for conducting business within the country. The process can be initiated online, but for certain business structures like sole proprietorships or partnerships, an in-person visit to a KvK office is required. During the registration appointment, entrepreneurs must present valid identification and, if the business address differs from the private address, a lease or purchase contract of the business premises or a declaration of consent signed by the property owner].

    Opening a Business Bank Account

    Opening a business bank account is a necessary step for conducting business in the Netherlands. Entrepreneurs should choose a reliable bank that aligns with their financial needs. For those involved with the Netherlands Foreign Investment Agency (NFIA) or recognized facilitators, the Quick Scan ‘Dutch Business Bank Account’ can expedite the process. This scan helps determine eligibility for opening an account, and banks typically respond within five working days regarding the likelihood of a successful application. It is important to have this account set up before registering with the KvK, as it is a requirement for the registration process].

    By following these outlined steps and ensuring compliance with Dutch regulations, entrepreneurs can successfully navigate the registration process and establish their business in the Netherlands.

    Managing Taxation and Compliance

    Understanding Dutch Taxation for Businesses

    In the Netherlands, both resident and non-resident businesses are subject to various forms of taxation depending on their activities and legal structure. Resident companies are taxed on their worldwide income, while non-resident entities are taxed only on income from Dutch sources [34]. The corporate income tax (CIT) rates are tiered; a lower rate applies to the first bracket of taxable income up to EUR 395,000, and a higher rate applies to any excess [35]. Additionally, businesses engaged in innovative activities may benefit from the innovation box regime, which taxes profits from these activities at a reduced rate of 9%].

    Business owners must also comply with VAT regulations, which include standard rates of 9% or 21% depending on the goods or services provided. Certain items may be exempt from VAT. Companies must register with the Netherlands Tax Administration upon establishment, which also registers them for VAT.

    Importance of Accounting and Financial Management

    The Netherlands employs a double-entry bookkeeping system, which is essential for accurately tracking financial transactions and ensuring compliance with the country’s accounting standards. The legal requirements for annual accounts are specified under the Netherlands Civil Code and must include a management board’s report, financial statements, and other pertinent information. For medium-sized and large companies, these financial statements must be audited unless specific exemptions apply.

    Using a Dutch accountant can significantly aid businesses in maintaining compliance and optimizing tax benefits. Dutch accountants are well-versed in local tax laws and can help identify savings and ensure that financial reporting meets regulatory requirements.

    Insurance and Protections for Your Business

    Insurance plays a critical role in managing business risks in the Netherlands. While some insurances are mandatory, such as third-party car insurance for business vehicles and professional indemnity insurance for certain professions, many other types of business insurance are optional yet highly advisable. These include business liability insurance, which covers damages caused to third parties, and professional liability insurance, which protects against financial losses due to professional errors.

    Additionally, businesses can opt for insurances that cover specific risks like cyber threats, business interruption, and employee-related issues such as disability and sick leave. It’s important for entrepreneurs to assess their specific business needs to determine the appropriate insurance coverage to safeguard against potential financial liabilities.


    Through this comprehensive guide, entrepreneurs have been equipped with essential knowledge to navigate the intricacies of registering and operating a business in the Netherlands. From understanding the dynamic Dutch business environment and selecting the appropriate legal structure to navigating the registration process and managing taxation and compliance, the crucial steps have been laid out to provide a roadmap for successful business establishment. These elements underscore the Netherlands’ position as an attractive hub for international trade and investment, highlighting the importance of careful planning and adherence to regulatory frameworks.

    As entrepreneurs look to embark on this exciting journey, the commitment to comply with Dutch laws and regulations, coupled with an understanding of the local business culture, will be instrumental in their success. For those seeking further assistance and expert guidance on registering a company in the Netherlands, OnDemand International stands ready to support your business aspirations, offering tailored solutions that cater to the unique needs of your venture. By taking these key points into account, prospective business owners can forge a path toward sustainable growth and innovation in the heart of Europe’s vibrant economy.


    1. What are the steps to register a company in the Netherlands?
    To register a company in the Netherlands, you must first consult with a Dutch notary. For a fully online incorporation, contact an incorporation specialist who will help set up the BV (Besloten Vennootschap) according to your instructions and register it at the Company Registry (KVK). There is no need to visit the Chamber of Commerce separately.

    2. What is the cost to register a company in the Netherlands?
    The cost of registering a company in the Netherlands can vary based on several factors including the type of company structure, legal fees, notary fees, and any additional services required. It’s advisable to get a detailed quote from an incorporation specialist or notary for accurate costs.

    3. How can an American start a business in the Netherlands?
    An American looking to start a business in the Netherlands should follow these steps: ensure you meet the residency conditions, write a business plan, research the market and set your strategy, create a financial plan, choose a trade name, select a legal business structure, and maintain proper business records.

    4. Can a foreigner open a company in the Netherlands?
    Yes, foreigners can open a company in the Netherlands. The Dutch government supports foreign entrepreneurs through the “start-up visa,” which grants a provisional residence permit for one year to establish a successful business.