How to set up a business

Do you want to be an entrepreneur in Rotterdam? Before you can start working and sending your first invoices to any new clients in the Netherlands, you have to arrange a few formalities. 

First check KvK online

The greatest advice we can give is to first check the website of the Chamber of Commerce (Kamer van Koophandel, ‘KvK’). For English speakers, there are a few brochures that explain carefully how to set up a business, which type of legal entity will best suit your needs, and which conditions apply. Find the brochures at the KvK website.

Register at the KvK

In the Netherlands, registration in the KvK Trade Register is compulsory for every company and almost every legal entity. This means that the register is able to provide reliable answers to such questions as:

  • Does the company I want to do business with actually exist?
  • Is the person I am dealing with actually an authorised signatory?
  • What has happened to the company I used to do business with?

You can register yourself at the KvK in Rotterdam at Blaak 40, 3011 TA Rotterdam (+31 (0)88 585 1585). After registering, you will receive a Chamber of Commerce number (KvK-nummer) and a national VAT number. Both these numbers are needed to send an invoice to your clients and pay your taxes. For more information, watch this webinar on registration and starting up a business.

Tax payments

Please note that if you started up your own business, you will have to maintain your accounts and you are responsible for paying VAT and income taxes on any money earned. It is highly recommended to hire a tax consultant to help you with this. For more information on business taxes click here.

Check the IND website

If you would like to start a business in the Netherlands, but you do not hold Dutch nationality and are from outside the EU, you will have to comply with particular formalities imposed by the Dutch immigration authorities (Immigratie– en Naturalisatiedienst, IND).

In this case, you will also have to meet several economic criteria before starting an enterprise in the Netherlands. You will have to prove that:

  • You are qualified to run the business in question;
  • You have a business plan;
  • Your business serves an essential Dutch interest, i.e. has ‘added value’ to the Netherlands.

The IND does not assess these criteria itself; the Ministry of Economic Affairs is requested to review your situation and to decide whether the business you intend to run will be economically viable. If this turns out not to be the case, you will not be permitted to start your own business in the Netherlands.

Directors can be seen as entrepreneurs as well

Please note that as a director and majority shareholder, you are also seen as an entrepreneur if:

  • You have at least a 25% interest in the company,
  • You are liable for any company risks, and
  • You can influence the level of your income.

If you do not meet the conditions specified above, you will have to apply to stay in the Netherlands as an employee instead.