This guide is aimed specifically at the self-employed entrepreneur whose company is based outside the Netherlands. Other rules apply if you are a self-employed entrepreneur starting a company or establish a branch in the Netherlands. These rules can be found in the step-by-step guide for starting a business and on the pages about starting a business on this website.
Please understand and appreciate that this guide is merely a guideline. You may be subject to other obligations as well. For further information, contact the Chamber of Commerce (KvK) or the Dutch Tax and Customs Administration (Belastingdienst). If you want to know more about the business climate of the Netherlands, sectors offering good opportunities and the practical aspects of doing business, visit NFIA or Hollandtrade.com.
You may need a residence permit or a visa if you as an entrepreneur wish to reside in the Netherlands on a temporary basis. You must register with your local municipal authority if you remain in the Netherlands for longer than four months.
You are only allowed to practise certain professions in the Netherlands if you have the correct certificate. You must have this certificate officially recognised by the competent authority in the country where you obtained the certificate.
If you work in the Netherlands on a temporary basis, you can sometimes remain insured for social security purposes in the country where your company has its registered office. For this purpose you will need to apply for an A1/(E)101 statement from the organisation responsible for social security in your country.
If you provide services in the Netherlands, you may have to pay turnover tax (VAT). For this purpose, you must register with the International Office of the Dutch Tax and Customs Administration.
For clients of self-employed professionals (zelfstandigen zonder personeel, zzp'ers) in the Netherlands it is important to know how the Dutch Tax and Customs Administration will assess the exact nature of their business relationship (i.e. an employment relationship or work on a self-employed basis). Until 1 May 2016 a so-called Declaration of Independent Contractor Status (Verklaring Arbeidsrelatie, VAR) was sufficient proof. As of that date the VAR has been replaced by so-called model agreements.
You need a work permit if you come from a country outside of the European Economic Area (EEA) or Switzerland. Your customer must apply for this work permit from the Employee Insurance Agency (Uitkeringsinstituut Werknemersverzekeringen, UWV).
Your customer is required to make a copy of your proof of identity at the start of your assignment and to keep the copy. In addition, you must always be able to show proof of identity in the event of an inspection.
As a self-employed entrepreneur you must comply with a number of rules regarding health and safety at work. You must prevent serious occupational dangers for yourself and the people you work with.
You may have to charge your customer VAT if you carry out an assignment in the Netherlands. You may also be able to claim back VAT that you have paid in the Netherlands.
If your business does not have a permanent branch in the Netherlands, you are normally not liable for Dutch income tax. However, in some cases you are liable. You can check this with the Dutch Tax and Customs Administration.
If you have to pay income tax in the Netherlands, you will need a Citizen Service Number (Burgerservicenummer, BSN). You will receive this number upon registration with your municipality or, if you are a non-resident, with the Non-residents Records Database (Registratie Niet Ingezetenen, RNIBSN).
In the Netherlands, you are not obliged to insure yourself against business risks. However, if you do not have an E101/A1 statement, you will have to take out Dutch health insurance.