Starting a business: what to arrange?
- Willeke Leensma
- 24 Sept 2019
- Edited 20 Feb 2023
- 3 min
When you start a business, there are lots of things you need to do and arrange. You want to prepare well and make sure you do not forget anything. This article can help you. We have listed the most important steps.
We have also included some useful tips. Like how to write a business plan, limit your risks, and how to set aside funds for your retirement.
Registering your business with the Netherlands Chamber of Commerce KVK
In the Netherlands, every business is required by law to register with KVK. The Dutch Business Register is the official resource for entrepreneurs. If your business is a sole proprietorship (eenmanszaak) or partnership (vof), you need to come to one of the KVK offices in person to register. You can make an appointment online. If your business will be a legal entity, such as a bv or nv, your notary will take care of the registration.
Before you register, here are some important steps to take:
- Choose the legal structure that suits your business best.
- Choose a good business name, and check whether it has already been taken (check with the internet domain name registry SIDN as well).
- Fill out the online registration form as completely as possible. Describe your business activities well: the description you give is used to determine the SBI code. The SBI code is used by government organisations, sector organisations, pension funds, banks, and insurance companies. If your business activities change along the way, you can report it to KVK and your Business Register entry will be updated.
- Find out if you need permits or licences for your business.
- Do you need financing? Make sure you have enough funds to get started before you register with KVK.
- Set up your business records.
- Find a suitable location for starting your business. Most businesses start from home. Check the zoning plan of the town where you live to see whether this is allowed.
- Are you starting from a benefit, for instance a disability or unemployment benefit? Check with the organisation that pays your benefit if you are allowed to register a business. If you register without permission, it may affect your benefit.
Video: Registering with KVK: how it works
The appointment at KVK
When you come to register at KVK, you need to bring a few items:
- Bring a printout of the registration form you filled out online.
- Do you rent a business space? Then bring a copy of your rent or lease contract.
- Bring valid ID.
- Make sure you bring your bank card, for paying the one-off registration fee.
After registration, you receive your KVK number. If you register a sole proprietorship or partnership, we will forward your details to the Tax and Customs Administration (Belastingdienst) directly, and they will register your business for VAT and income tax.
From the moment you are registered, you will have to file VAT returns. You do this once every 3 months. For income tax, you file a return once a year.
Every business has to comply with the General Data Protection Regulation or GDPR (Algemene Gegevens Verordening (AVG) in Dutch). The GDPR protects your customers’ privacy. If you use personal data in your business, you need to make sure you handle it responsibly. You need to be able to prove you have permission to use personal data, and for how long you retain it. You also use personal data in your records, for instance for sending out invoices. This data is subject to the GDPR.
Want to make sure your business is GDPR-proof, and avoid a fine? Take the 10-step GDPR test.
Video: GDPR: privacy and personal details
Good to have
- Write a business plan or draw up a business model canvas. You will need it to persuade a bank or other financial institution to finance you.
- Chart your business risks and take out insurances to cover them.
- Set your hourly rate.
- Prepare for later, build up a pension.
- Draw up general terms and conditions, so there can be no doubt about your and your customer’s rights and duties.
- Open a business bank account, it may come in handy (but it is not a requirement).
- Do you know who your potential customers are, and how to find them? Marketing and acquisition are important aspects of your business.
- If you are setting out in a particular sector or from a particular starting situation, Business.gov.nl may have a checklist you can use.
- Use the company waste separation tool to find out which types of waste you need to separate in your business.
Events for starters
- Due to the current pandemic, events and gatherings for starters do not take place physically. But KVK does organise online sessions, as do other organisations. For instance expat centres, startup organisations, and the Tax Administration. Check Business.gov.nl regularly for dates and registration.
- Starting a business in the Netherlands is a webinar that guides you through the most important steps in 60 minutes.
Are you looking for personal advice? Contact the KVK Advice Team.Download the checklist (in Dutch)