Setting up a business in the Netherlands under the Ankara Agreement
Updated on 21 February 2024
If you want to start a company in the Netherlands as a foreigner, there are different sets of rules you will have to comply to. When you are a resident of the European Union (EU), you can generally set up a business without any permits or visa. If you come from a different country, however, there are extra steps you need to take in order to be able to legally start a company in an EU country. Since Turkey still hasn’t joined the EU fully, this also applies to you, if you are a Turkish resident who wants to own a Dutch business. Nonetheless, it’s actually not so complicated to achieve this. You will have to obtain the proper visa and prepare the necessary documentation. Once you have this, the business registration process only takes a few business days to complete. We will describe the steps you will need to take in this article, and how Intercompany Solutions can support you with your endeavor.
What is the Ankara Agreement exactly?
In 1959, Turkey applied for a membership of association with the European Economic Community. This agreement, the Ankara Agreement, was signed on the 12th of September 1963. The agreement stipulates that Turkey may eventually accede to the Community. The Ankara Agreement also laid the foundations for a toll union. The first financial protocol was signed in 1963 and the second followed in 1970. It was agreed that in time all tariffs and quotas between Turkey and the European Economic Community would be abolished. It was not until 1995 that the treaty was concluded and a customs union was established between Turkey and the European Union. The Ankara Agreement of 1963 between Turkey and the EU and the Additional Protocol contain, among other things, some rights in favor of Turkish entrepreneurs, highly educated employees as well as their family members.
Although these rights in favor of Turkish citizens exist, it can still be a bit difficult to organize everything in a country that is foreign to you, and has a bureaucracy very different from the Turkish system. Having someone guide you through the procedure will not only ease your burden, but you can also avoid unnecessary mistakes and wasted time. Please keep in mind, that starting a foreign business always comes with certain responsibilities and risks. For example, you should become acquainted with the national tax system of the country you would like to establish a business in. You will be required to pay Dutch taxes when you operate within the Netherlands. The upside is, that you will be able to profit from the European Single Market and thus, can transport goods and offer services freely within the borders of the EU.
What kind of business can you start in the Netherlands?
If you have been thinking about owning a business in the EU, then you probably already have a basic idea about the type of company you would like to start. The possibilities are actually very broad, as Holland thrives in many ways. The Dutch continually strive for innovation and advancement throughout various sectors, which will make it possible for you to benefit from the healthy and stable corporate climate. Next to that, the corporate tax rates are beneficial compared to many neighboring countries. Furthermore, you will find a highly educated and mostly bilingual workforce in the Netherlands, This means you will find high quality employees easily, certainly now the job market has opened up. Next to contracting people, you can also choose to hire freelancers to do some extra work for you. Since the Netherlands are extremely well-connected to the rest of the world, it will be very easy to start a logistics company or other type of import and export company. You have the port of Rotterdam and Schiphol airport within a maximum of two hours travel within your vicinity, which enables you to swiftly transport goods all over the world.
Some company ideas that you might consider:
- Import and export
- Small businesses such as shops and restaurants
- Catering services
- An online company offering services
- Tech companies are also highly sought after
- A pharmaceutical company
- A company focused on health and well-being
- A legal or consultancy firm
- A webstore / Ecommerce
- A drop-shipping company
- An artistic endeavor such as graphic design or music label
These are just a few suggestions, but the possibilities are nearly limitless. The main requirement is that you are ambitious and willing to work hard, since you need to take into account that you might have a lot of competition. We strongly advise creating a good business plan, in which you do some marketing research and include a financial plan. That way, chances are greater you can find a third party to finance you, if you need extra funds to start your business.
Benefits of owning a Dutch business
As we already discussed above, there is a lot of potential to start a successful company in Holland. Next to being a trade country, the infrastructure in the Netherlands is considered to be one of the best in the world. Not just the physical roads, which are excellent, but also the digital infrastructure. The Dutch have invested a lot of time and effort into connecting every household to a fast internet connection, so you won’t ever have connection problems. The country is economically and politically stable, plus the cities are considered to be very safe compared to many other countries. The Dutch also have many bi- and multilateral agreements with other countries, which prevent double taxation and other issues that might negatively impact your business. This allows you to focus on your main objectives, as opposed to being worried about certain problems that might arise. Lastly, the Dutch are ambitious and like to work alongside foreigners. You will feel welcome and able to meet many like minded entrepreneurs to potentially do business with.
The visa and permits you might need
If you want to start a business as a Turkish resident, there are two things you will need:
- A 'start-up' residence permit
- A long stay visa (mvv). There are some exemptions to this last requirement, which you can find here.
The general requirements for the permits you need are as follows:
- You meet the general requirements that apply to everyone.
- You work together with a reliable mentor: a facilitator. This cooperation must be written down in a signed contract between you and the facilitator.
- Your company is innovative in the following situations:
- The product or service is new to the Netherlands.
- The start-up uses new technology in production, distribution and/or marketing.
- The start-up has a new way of working and organizing.
See the website of the Netherlands Enterprise Agency (in Dutch: Rijksdienst voor Ondernemend Nederland or RVO) for more information on innovative entrepreneurship.
- You play an active part in the organization. This means that you must be more than just a shareholder or financier.
- You have a step-by-step plan to go from idea to company. The RVO assesses the start-up and sees whether you meet the requirements for the step-by-step plan. The step-by-step plan sets out the following information:
- The structure of the organization
- The roles and responsibilities
- The legal form
- The personnel
- The company’s goals
- A description of your innovative product or service
- A description of the planning and activities involved in setting up the company
- You and the facilitator are registered in the Trade Register of the Chamber of Commerce (in Dutch: Kamer van Koophandel or KvK).
- You meet the income requirements. This can be proved in 2 different ways:
- You can show a bank statement demonstrating that you have enough money in your account.
- Having another legal entity or natural person, for example the facilitator, finance your stay. The amount of money must be available for your entire stay (1 year at most).
Requirements for facilitators
The RVO keeps a list of facilitators who meet these requirements.
- The facilitator has experience with mentoring innovative start-ups.
- The facilitator is financially healthy.
- The facilitator has not been granted suspension of payment or been put into liquidation and has no negative equity capital.
- The facilitator does not have a majority interest in the start-up company.
- The facilitator is not your child, parent, grandparent, uncle or aunt (family up to and including the third degree).
- The facilitator has a deputy within the organization.
We understand that this can be a bit complicated for someone who has never done business in the Netherlands before. Therefore, Intercompany Solutions can support you with setting up your Dutch business from A to Z. We have a specialized immigration lawyer who can assist you in obtaining the necessary visa and permits, when it turns out you will need these to settle here.
Intercompany Solutions can assist you with the entire business establishment process
Thanks to our experienced team, our company has already successfully established more than 1000 businesses in the Netherlands. All we need from you is the correct documents and information, and we take care of the rest. Once your company is registered at the Dutch Chamber of commerce, you can start your business activities immediately. We can also help you out with extra services, such as opening a Dutch bank account, looking for a suitable location for your offices, your periodical and yearly tax return and any legal issues you might confront along the way. Feel free to contact us for more information about the process, we will gladly share all you need and aid you in your journey towards entrepreneurship.
If you want to start a company in the Netherlands as a foreigner, there are different sets of rules you will have to comply to. When you are a resident of the European Union (EU), you can generally set up a business without any permits or visa