Foreign registers overview

Almost all countries have a register for businesses. Most foreign registers are not managed by a chamber of commerce, but by a commercial court or ministerial agency. The financial records of businesses are also kept and published by various institutions.

Inside the European Union, registers have to meet quality standards and contain the same basic data as the Dutch Business Register. Outside Europe, this is often not yet the case. You can usually access simple basic information for free. For more detailed information you will generally need a subscription or access code.


Whether or not companies are required to be listed in a central register differs from one country to the next. There are European directives for the registration of companies.

Legal certainty

Finding information about a foreign company on the internet does not guarantee that it is actually a legal company. Only an official written statement provides legal certainty about the identity of a foreign company and its (registered) representatives. Dutch embassies and consulates (in Dutch) are aware of these 'certificates' and "apostilles".


If your business is linked to a legal entity incorporated abroad,

  • make sure your registration abroad is still up to date. You can do so yourself by submitting an annual return, annual accounts, or paying a fee abroad.
  • make sure to report any board changes to the appropriate authorities in the Netherlands and abroad to avoid unwanted consequences. For example, having your legal entity stricken off the records by foreign authorities, causing you to become personally liable for business operations.

International cooperation between registers

Some business registers cooperate in international forums, which serve to share knowledge, exchange information, and share good and bad experiences. Another advantage of these forums is that they facilitate international communication to help resolve cross-border issues.

  • ECRF: The European Commerce Registers' Forum brings together more than 30 European registers.
  • CRF: The Corporate Registers Forum brings together more than 40 registers from around the world.
  • IACA: The International Association of Commercial Administrators brings together all the states of the United States and the provinces of Canada, as well as several countries.

More foreign registers