Business administration and bookkeeping for starters

You are a starter. Knowing the financial position of your company is important. Clear business records give you continuous insight. It is also a means to guide your company. Is your income rising, or are your expenses? And which customers have not yet paid? In addition, you are legally obliged to keep records and must retain them.

Requirements for your business records

The Netherlands Tax Administration (Belastingdienst) imposes requirements on the records you keep. The following must be included:

  • invoices: received invoices and copies of outgoing invoices (view example, pdf)
  • transaction statements
  • cash flow records
  • contracts and correspondence with clients and suppliers
  • time-tracking records
  • travel records for car and/or public transport
  • taxes, both VAT and income tax
  • model agreements
  • business correspondence such as letters, emails, quotations (view example, pdf), contracts, brochures, and faxes

Keep records for 7 to 10 years

How long do you have to keep your records? For data on immovable property and rights to immovable property, the retention period is at least 10 years. The retention period for the basic data of your business administration is at least 7 years. The basic data includes at a minimum:

Do you store the data digitally? Then you must ensure that the programmes and files remain accessible during the retention period. That also means keeping access to (potentially paid) programmes that you don't currently use. Keep that in mind.

Agreements with the Tax Administration

You can make agreements with the Tax Administration about the way in which you keep the data: via digital bookkeeping or on paper. And you can agree on how detailed you need to keep your records. For example, whether or not you keep daily statements or cash register slips. The Tax and Customs Administration puts these agreements in writing.

Outsource your accounting or do it yourself

You can do your financial administration yourself. Or you can outsource your bookkeeping to a bookkeeper or accountant. Hiring a good bookkeeper or accountant usually pays for itself. These financial specialists help you set up your accounts, give advice, and are up-to-date on various tax benefits. 

Video: An entrepreneur talking about keeping records


  • Are you ready to outsource? Pay attention to the price, the quality, and the service a bookkeeper or accountant must provide.
  • Ask for several quotations and make clear agreements about your expectations.
  • At the end of each period, look at the time and energy spent, for example, on tax exemptions and savings. Also, count the hours you spent on administration and bookkeeping. Because time is also money.
  • Do you prefer to do your own bookkeeping? Then consider digital bookkeeping and the use of an (online) accounting package.
  • Do you have questions about taxes? Ask the Tax Administration. You can start a chat every workday. 

Handbook on Entrepreneurship

Use the Tax Administration's Handbook on Entrepreneurship (in Dutch, free pdf download) as a reference. The handbook guides you through your tax rights and obligations and explains which requirements the Tax Administration imposes on your business administration. For basic English information on taxes, consult this page.

Video: Increase your financial insight

Every entrepreneur wants a financially healthy business. Financial insight is important for that. It means you can make the right decisions and keep a grip on your business. Increase your financial insight with the tips from the video 'Increase financial insight'.  Turn on the auto-translated subtitles in the video settings.