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Guide: How to start a company in the Netherlands

This guide is for foreign entrepreneurs, who want to start a Dutch BV in the Netherlands from abroad.

In this article, we discuss the following topics:

  1. Finding the right associate
  2. Staying on top of developments
  3. How to proceed after establishment of your company
  4. Tips and warnings
  5. Related articles

Is it even possible? To start a Dutch BV from abroad? Is this option available to large companies only? Or can small investors and entrepreneurs also enter the Dutch market? In this guide or ‘WikiHow’ we will explain which steps you need to take, to do business in our beautiful country from anywhere in the world!

Why start a Dutch BV?

  • The Netherlands continually has a very good business environment
  • You enjoy the lowest tax rates, even in 2021
  • The Dutch are number 4 on the list of most innovative and competitive countries in the world
  • 93% of the population speaks English
  • Very good entry point to the European Union and its Single Market

Your search query: company / start a company

1. Finding the right associate

Starting a company from abroad requires very specific knowledge. You need to know exactly which steps to undertake, in order to comply with all fiscal, legal and other relevant legislation. But how do you identify the right partner to help you with this? It’s actually very easy, just ask yourself the following questions:

  • How does the process of starting a company (usually a Dutch BV) in the Netherlands from abroad work?
  • Can a non-resident also start a company in the Netherlands?
  • Why does the Netherlands have a more advantageous business environment than many other European countries?
  • What is a better choice: a Dutch BV or a regular branch/affiliate office?

The right partner or associate will answer these questions quickly and clearly. If it takes a long time to answer, or the answer is not clear, then you should immediately move on to another company that will help you establish your business in the Netherlands.

Starting a company in 6 steps

Starting a company from abroad in the Netherlands can be done by following these 6 clear steps:

  1. You pick a company name, write down your company details and send your application to a partner that’s going to help you establish and register your company (unless you already know everything that is involved in the process and want to do this yourself).
  2. You will receive an application form with additional questions. You will need to answer these questions, and submit it to the partner you chose in step 1 in order to establish your Dutch BV as fast as possible and in 100% accordance with the Dutch law.
  3. Your partner will prepare everything for the notary. A visit to the Netherlands is not always mandatory for this step, since you can send all necessary documents digitally. In some cases you will have to scan official documents and send these, for example when your signature is required. You will also need to send a valid ID, and if you are from outside the European Union, all applicable work permits.
  4. The notary will enroll your new company in the register at the Dutch Chamber of Commerce (Kamer van Koophandel).
  5. You or your partner sends an application for a Dutch VAT number (btw-nummer) to be used for the Dutch Tax Authorities (Belastingdienst).
  6. Using your Dutch VAT number and Chamber of Commerce registration, you apply at a bank to receive a business account.

If you prepare everything accordingly (or let your associate take care of it) you can start a company from abroad in less than 14 business days. Please keep in mind, that starting a company in the Netherlands from abroad is a specialized field of expertise. Research has shown, that successfully starting a company is dependent on taking the rights steps and actions at the right time. This includes having access to good and or renowned notaries, (international) tax advisers, consultants, lawyers, tax specialists, recruiters and professionals in the field of e-fulfillment, transport, warehousing, import, immigration and other sectors is of utmost importance to experience a good start. As for many other things, your best bet is to outsource this to another specialized party if it is not your strong suit. The risk of damaging your reputation, having a bad start or any other negative legal consequences or liability is very large, if you do not know exactly what you are doing.

Your search query: starting a company in the Netherlands

2. Staying on top of developments

Outsourcing does not mean that you should not be involved at all. Make sure you know what’s happening at all times, who is doing what and why they are doing this. You should always know what is happening in and around your company, regardless of its size or yearly profits. If you choose an associate to help you, make sure they update you regularly on the progress and that the quote is clear and competitive.

The Netherlands on the global stage

Despite all the fiscal and economic benefits, the Netherlands can be a strict country. There are clear fiscal and legal rules regarding companies, which also include foreign branch offices. Make sure these rules and regulations are strictly followed before and after starting a company (even if your associate takes care of these things).

The minimum requirements for starting a Dutch BV are:

  • 1 euro starting capital
  • 1 shareholder
  • 1 director
  • 1 Office Address

The sole process of establishing a company in the Netherlands may not be enough, to receive a Dutch VAT number. A legal justified Dutch BV is required to have an EORI-number in addition to the required VAT number. If you’re not sure what this means and how this works, you can contact a company which had a positive rating according to CBC News.

Your search query: company / start a company

3. How to proceed after establishment?

Good job! Your company has been established. You submitted all relevant papers, visited a notary, received a Chamber of Commerce registration, VAT number, and you have everything you need to start doing business in our country. You covered the basics but the real challenge starts here. Make sure to stay compliant with all rules and regulations within the Netherlands, even after forming your company. You can achieve this by choosing a partner that not only assists you in forming your company, but also provides support for accounting, taxes, secretarial activities and has knowledge of required legal fields. In the meanwhile, make sure you read the following tips and warnings.

Your search query: helpful tips

4. Tips and warnings

There is much to say about starting a company in the Netherlands from abroad. The following consists of a small selection of tips:

  • Carefully consider your (future) company name. How does it sound in Dutch, and does it have any other possible meaning here?
  • Are you on top of your supply?
  • What distinguishes you from your competitors? (USP’s)
  • Which KPI’s will you use to measure success?
  • Only do business with professional and reliable partners
  • Ask for references and customer reviews
  • Ask which track records your partner can provide
  • Keep in mind that you are responsible for what happens, even if you outsource

Warnings:

  • Beware of agents which are not specialized or aware of the latest legal and fiscal rules
  • Keep track of what happens, even after you form your company. A good business partner will provide this service automatically
  • Keep your finances in order and don’t spend money on projects you are unsure about
  • Make sure you know standard rules and regulations within your specific sector, especially concerning tax and import and export of goods and services

Have a question?

Intercompany Solutions will be glad to assist you with any further queries and make sure you have a great start with your new business in The Netherlands. You can ask our incorporation, accounting and tax specialists for more information. For more information you can also check out our other guide.

Further reading: Company formation Netherlands

Support from Intercompany Solutions

If you want to establish a company in the Netherlands, Intercompany Solutions can assist you with the entire registration process, as well as many other follow-up services such as accounting and business advice. Francois Krist, General Manager of Intercompany Solutions explains:

“Our services are targeted at both starting and experienced entrepreneurs worldwide, who want their company to have a presence in the Netherlands. Our customers are usually interested in the process of starting a Dutch BV. Likewise, they also want to know the fiscal rules, if non-residents can start a company here, what makes the Netherlands interesting compared to other European countries and why it’s meaningful to choose a Dutch BV instead of just registering a branch or affiliate office. We help our customers from start to finish in establishing their Dutch BV, or with the registration of any other company type in the Netherlands.”

Examples of our services include, but are not limited to: filing paperwork, such as registering at the Dutch Chamber of Commerce, requesting a VAT identification number for the Dutch Tax Authorities, performing fiscal and administrative tasks and much more. Our complete service guarantees a good start for your future company in the Netherlands.

Proven results by Intercompany Solutions: 1000+ companies assisted

Every consultant within our company is specialized within their own discipline. Establishing a company from abroad raises many different questions, due to the often different laws and regulations compared to the country of origin. “It is often seen as a large step to invest capital into a foreign venture. Which is only natural, if you have to deal with uncertainties stemming from unfamiliarity with specific tax and company laws in the Netherlands”, according to Francois.

Support from Intercompany Solutions after formation

Bjorn Wagemakers, Chief Executive Office at Intercompany Solutions, adds: “We also actively support our clients after company formation to make sure they stay compliant with rules and regulations. We do this, among other things, by ensuring that all accounting rules are met. We also possess a large network consisting of like-minded professionals, built over the years which we can engage to answer questions outside our own areas of expertise. We have intense collaborations with experienced and renowned notaries, (international) tax advisers, consultants, lawyers, tax specialists, recruiters and professionals in the field of e-fulfillment, transport, warehousing, import, immigration and many other sectors.”

Forming a company from abroad? Contact us!

If you have any questions relating to starting a company in the Netherlands, you can contact us directly through 00 31 10 3074 269, send an email to [email protected] or via our contact form on the website.

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