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The benefits of establishing a business in the Netherlands in 2022

Updated on 6 February 2024

Owning a business in the Netherlands proves to be a solid investment time and time again. This is also the reason why many foreign entrepreneurs decide to branch out to Holland, or even start a completely new business here. There are many different business opportunities within several interesting niches, making it possible for you to make your entrepreneurial dream come true oversees. The Netherlands profits from being situated in a very strategic location, with its large international airport near Amsterdam and a port in Rotterdam, which are in close proximity of each other.

Next to that, Holland offers a thriving pro-business climate, which makes it easy to find customers and appropriate business partners. Furthermore, the national and European tax system is highly attractive, making it possible for you to enjoy the benefits of the European Single Market. If you want to open a large business, you also profit from an international, multilingual and highly educated workforce. And let’s not forget the fantastic physical and digital infrastructure. These are just some of the many advantages of opening up a Dutch business. In this article, we will inform you how and why the Netherlands is seen as a solid stepping stone into the European and even international market.

One of the best countries for business worldwide

The Netherlands structurally scores very high in many international top business lists, such as Forbes’ “Best Countries for Business”, where Holland holds the 4th place currently. The country also holds the 4th position in the “Global Competitiveness Index” which is published yearly by the World Economic Forum. The Netherlands is currently the sixth-largest economy within the European Union (EU), due to the fact that the country performs extremely well economically. The country houses more than 8000 foreign companies, amongst which are some world-famous companies such as Discovery, Swisscom and Panasonic. But not only large corporations choose to open an office here; many small foreign entrepreneurs also tried out their luck, and often with success. Did you know, that the Netherlands has one of the highest incomes per capita in the entire EU? Pair that with very low unemployment levels, and you have a basis for success. Next to the outstanding business climate, the country offers affordable living costs and an exceptional quality of life. The schools are considered one of the best worldwide, making it possible for you to potentially move here with your family. This makes Holland a very competitive and world-class destination for your (future) business.

Strategically located

One of the main benefits of doing business in the Netherlands, is the fact that you can instantly access the entire international market due to the strategically beneficial location of the country. Due to being situated directly next to the UK, Germany, Denmark and Belgium, as well as having a large coastal strip with multiple ports, the Netherlands has immediate access to many European countries. In general, it has been proved that the country has direct access to 95% of the most lucrative consumer markets within the entirety of Europe within 24 hours. You also benefit from a world-famous airport, namely Schiphol, plus the huge port of Rotterdam. If you are interested in starting a drop-ship or logistics business, then Holland is a very safe bet to start. Holland has been known for its proficiency in trade throughout the centuries, making the Dutch experts within this particular niche. They are also very apt in working with water, since most large cities have a vast network of canals which are actually directly connected to each other. Hence,; you can travel by boat to almost all large cities. Pair that with a fantastic infrastructure (which we will discuss later on) and it’s no coincidence that many large multinational corporations have already chosen the Netherlands as their base of operations.

Innovation plays a large part in Dutch business endeavors

The Netherlands was ranked number 5 in the Global Innovation Index of 2022.[1] The Dutch are basically always trying to find ways to do things better, faster and more efficiently. This makes the country an ideal base for interesting new concepts, innovative business ideas and entrepreneurs who value working together in new and innovative ways. This mindset is paired with a very attractive international test market, a very open and friendly business culture and highly knowledgeable and adaptive consumers. If you want to market a new technological product, then the Netherlands provides you with a good starting point. The Netherlands also houses a good deal of Research & Development (R&D) offices of well-known multinationals, which leads to the country having the second-highest number of patent applications in Europe per one million inhabitants. This just shows that innovation is a very high priority in the Dutch business climate. A lot of patents actually come from start-ups, which means that it would be possible for you to try out the success of a possible invention here.

Next to the innovative business climate, Dutch universities rank amongst the top in several international rankings regarding their research and teaching methods. Examples are the University of Leiden, Wageningen University, Eindhoven University and the Technical University in Delft. If you are looking for opportunities to develop your knowledge even further, these are some of the best choices for personal growth and business expansion. One of the main benefits of the way the Dutch work, is the extensive amount of solid public/private partnerships. Often, the Dutch government can provide funding for innovative ideas within many different sectors. If you have an idea that matches some of the government's current goal, chances are high that you will be able to put this idea into practice successfully.

Highly skilled international and multilingual workforce

The Netherlands currently houses a population of almost 17.8 million people. Amongst this population are not only Dutch residents, but also a wide plethora of expats, foreign entrepreneurs and immigrants. This makes it possible for every new business owner to find appropriate staff for a new company, often even in the language you desire someone to speak. Around 1.8 million inhabitants are foreigners, who come from 200 different countries and nationalities.[2] This makes the Netherlands even more diverse than the US, since the amount of land Holland covers is substantially smaller. Due to housing so many nationalities, the Dutch culture is very flexible, original and international. Because of the fact that so many people from so many backgrounds mingle daily, the workforce is considered productive, highly skilled, adaptive and often bi- or even multilingual. The country has the 1st place out of 112 other countries in the EF English Proficiency Index 2021, with Amsterdam being the number one city in the world when it comes to being able to speak proficient English. This makes the Netherlands the best English-speaking country in the entire world, without actually having English as a first language. If you want to open an international business, then this little fact will definitely help propel your business forward, since your employees will have no trouble at all to communicate in English.

Apart from English, the Dutch are also proficient in a variety of different languages, such as French, Spanish, Russian, Chinese, German and Italian, for example. Next to lingual proficiency, the Dutch also score high on various other subjects such as ICT, numeracy and literacy. The OECD Skills Outlook 2021 provides you with a broader overview of how the Dutch currently score, in comparison to other countries.[3] Another bonus regarding the Dutch population is the fact, that a large portion is in the so-called ‘economically active’ age range, which is from 15 to 64 years old. There are so many skilled people, that the country outranks most other large competitors, even though the country itself is very small. Also, due to a very high standard of education and training, IT investments and logical labor laws, the workforce is internationally seen as extremely productive. Due to the government's pragmatic approach to business activities, there are very few labor disputes compared to the entire EU. Due to its international orientation, it is possible to obtain a “Highly Skilled Migrant Visa” which allows businesses to hire qualified expats from all over the world. One of the main benefits for foreign business owners is a certain level of assurance, that they will always find personnel and/or freelancers here, when needed.

The Dutch infrastructure is one of the best in the entire world

Holland offers a superior logistic as well as technological infrastructure. Due to the existence of world-class airports and seaports, the Netherlands benefits from an extremely extensive network of roads and rail. The roads itself are seen as one of the best in the world, due to constant maintenance and refurbishing. This means that any goods shipped from the country enter international territory in just an hour or two, making the country perfect for logistics businesses. Next to the physical infrastructure, there is also the 100% digital telecommunications network. This Dutch network is seen as one of the best on our planet. Due to the density of the infrastructure, it is able to provide everyone with very fast connections, no matter where you are or where your goods are travelling. This dense infrastructure also offers the highest broadband penetration per capita in the entire world, namely 99% of all households are connected to it. Next to the high level of connection, it also offers one of the planet’s fastest broadband speeds. This makes the Netherlands the literal digital gateway to Europe, but also North America, due to the fact that most transatlantic sea cables are going directly to the Netherlands.

The Netherlands stimulates foreign investment and entrepreneurship actively

The corporate income tax rate in the Netherlands is seen as very competitive. In 2022 the tax rates were 15% up to 395,000 euros, above this sum the rate is 25.8%. (2024: 19% until €200.000 and 25,8% above). Next to an attractive tax rate, the Dutch government also offers many incentive programs and a very supportive fiscal climate for foreign entrepreneurs and international companies. This makes it very easy for you to either invest in an already existing business, or try out your luck with your own Dutch company. The country also has a very wide tax treaty network, not just within the EU, but worldwide. This means that you benefit from treaties that avoid double taxation, which means you as an entrepreneur are protected when doing business internationally. This aids in making it possible for international and multinational companies to thrive in Holland. Furthermore, the country stimulates innovation by promoting to engage in R&D activities. You can do this internally within your own company, or together with partner businesses. There is a favorable corporate tax structure in place to facilitate this, next to special R&D tax incentives.

A stable government

The Dutch government is seen as one of the most stable in the world, until this day. The World Bank actually named the Dutch government one of the most effective governments in the entire world. The country itself is stable as well, without any dramatic political changes or civil unrest. This makes it much easier for you as an entrepreneur to safely base your company here, since you know that there is almost no risk involved. It also makes it possible to make stable medium as well as long-term decisions, without any fear of the situation changing anytime soon. The government’s financial situation is seen as relatively healthy. There is not much criminal activity on the streets either, making it possible for every business owner to do business safely and securely.

How Intercompany Solutions can help you set up your Dutch business

Have you thought about setting up a foreign business? Then maybe the Netherlands is exactly the place you are looking for. As we already discussed above, the country offers a wide array of possibilities for motivated and ambitious entrepreneurs, who want to create a visible change in the world. The infrastructure makes it possible to do business all over the world, whilst you don’t even have to leave your country of origin. A Dutch business can be set up from afar, as long as you provide us with all the necessary documentation. Please note, that the Dutch business market is highly competitive as well, so you will need to work hard to turn your company into a success. There is a lot of fierce competition, but with the right mindset, you can actually be able to learn from your competitors. If you would like to know more about setting up a business in the Netherlands, you can look at our main page about this subject. Still have questions? Then feel free to contact us directly for personal advice, or a cl

[1] https://www.wipo.int/global_innovation_index/en/2022/

[2] https://www.nu.nl/binnenland/4036992/nederland-telt-tweehonderd-nationaliteiten.html

[3] https://www.oecd.org/education/oecd-skills-outlook-e11c1c2d-en.htm

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