How to start a business in the Netherlands

 In Start-up

Doing business internationally expands a company’s horizon and offers unique opportunities for growth, development and profit building.

Because of the strategic location of Europe, companies use the Netherlands as a hub to cover several European markets. They are supported by a very business-minded government that are focussed on reducing red tape and providing a stable, competitive investment climate.

In many industries the Dutch are the champions of open innovation. Impressive clusters of foreign companies, home-grown success stories, research facilities to share and world-class science institutes have made the Netherlands a hotspot for companies looking to innovate. Strong R&D clusters are present in the Agrifood, High Tech Systems & Materials, Chemicals, Life Sciences & Health and ICT sectors. These industries belong to the top industries that the Dutch government declared the key investment sectors for government, private sector and relevant knowledge institutes. Moreover, investment in R&D is encouraged with highly effective incentives.

The potential subsidies for starting a business in the EU and tax benefits for foreign investors

The Netherlands poses an excellent operating base from a business and social perspective. From an outstanding infrastructure – including Europe’s largest port – to one of the most extensive tax and bilateral investment treaty networks in the world.

Conditions for setting up a business in the Netherlands

  • Sufficient money to life in the Netherlands,
  • An innovative service or product,
  • A step by step plan to develop your idea into a business,
  • Registration with the Dutch Chamber of Commerce (KvK).

Need a great idea

Innovation starts with ideas – No ideas, no innovation.

Put your idea in a business plan

Why have a business plan? It summarises the plans you have for your business and makes you examine whether your plans are viable and whether a market exists for your product or service. Drafting a business plan also forces you to make certain choices and helps you avoid overlooking any important issues.

Business plan checklist

A business plan should address the following issues:

  • Your idea – described in concrete terms.
  • Financing – how much money will you need and where will this come from?
  • Details – describe in concrete terms how you intend to put your idea into practice.
  • Personal details – information about your entrepreneurial skills and/or business acumen.

Tips for writing a business plan:

  • Use a professional consultant/ facilitator to assist you,
  • Use a template
  • Start with a short summary or introduction
  • Set aside plenty of time to write your plan
  • Be realistic and honest
  • Ask others for feedback

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Immigration Issues

EU passport holders are except from visas but must register for a residents permit.

Graduates of Dutch Universities are permitted to work or seek employment up to a year without needing to apply for a work permit.

Highly skilled non-EU citizens qualifies for an accelerated visa process.

As of 2015, a new regulation makes it possible for ambitious entrepreneurs to apply for a temporary residence permit for the Netherlands. The so-called residence permit ‘scheme for start-ups’ affords ambitious entrepreneurs one year to launch an innovative business. A prerequisite is that this start-up must be guided by an experienced mentor (facilitator) who is based in the Netherlands.

Rules and regulations:

  • Check whether you fulfil the conditions for staying in the EU,
  • Select a legal form,
  • Select a trade name,
  • Register with the Trade Register and Tax Administration,
  • Check whether you require certain professional qualifications,
  • Create your business accounts,
  • Check whether you need insurance. 

Funding possibilities:

Business angels

An angel investor or angel (also known as a business angel, informal investor, angel funder, private investor, or seed investor) is an affluent individual who provides capital for a business start-up, usually in exchange for convertible debt or ownership equity.


Crowdfunding is the practice of funding a project or venture by raising monetary contributions from a large number of people. Crowdfunding is a form of crowdsourcing and of alternative finance.

Seed capital

Seed money, sometimes known as seed funding orseed capital, is a form of securities offering in which an investor invests capital in exchange for an equity stake in the company.

Proof-of-Concept funding

Proof of concept is a realization of a certain method or idea to demonstrate its feasibility or a demonstration in principle, whose purpose is to verify that some concept or theory has the potential of being used. A proof of concept is usually small and may or may not be complete.

Venture capital funds

Venture capital (VC) is a type of private equity, a form of financing that is provided by firms or funds to small, early-stage, emerging firms that are deemed to have high growth potential, or which have demonstrated high growth (in terms of number of employees, annual revenue, or both).

Regional development corporations

There are numerous regional development corporations (RDCs) [Dutch: regionale ontwikkelingsmaatschappij (ROM)] operating around the Netherlands. RDCs aim to strengthen their local and regional economies, and to invest in the private sector.

Venture capital companies

Venture capital companies manage investment funds and institutional investors’ assets in a fund often totalling several tens or even hundreds of millions of euros for periods of around ten years. From this fund, they invest amounts of several million euros in promising companies. The capital they invest is also referred to as private equity.

Stock exchange (NPEX)

The NPEX is a stock exchange for small- and medium-sized business owners. Trading takes place online without the intervention of banks or other parties.


Innovative Start-ups  may receive a subsidy from the Dutch Government.

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