Starting a business: what to arrange?

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:

After the registration

When you rtegister, you receive your KVK number . If you have registered as an eenmanszaak or vof, we will forward your details to the Tax Administration (Belastingdienst).  

  • VAT identification number and VAT number
    The Belastingdienst will send you 2 VAT numbers in the mail (why 2? Read this article). Your VAT identification number, VAT ID in short, is for communicating with your customers and suppliers. You also receive a VAT number, for communicating with the Belastingdienst. You should receive these numbers from the Belastingdienst within 2 weeks of registering with KVK. 
  • Filing VAT returns
    From the moment you are registered you have to file VAT returns. You inform the Belastingdienst how much VAT you have charged your customers, and how much VAT you have paid for business purchases. Most entrepreneurs have to file every quarter (January, April, July, and October). Please note that you also have to file a VAT return if you have nothing to declare. You will receive a fine if you file too late or not at all.
  • Filing income tax returns
    You file an income tax return every year. 
  • Administration
    Entrepreneurs have to keep records for 7 years. You have to make sure your administration is in order. 
  • eHerkenning
    Do you want to apply for subsidies or permits? Or is your business not an eenmanszaak? Then you will need eHerkenning. You can buy eHerkenning as soon as you have your KVK number.
  • GDPR
    Every business has to comply with the General Data Protection Regulation or GDPR (Algemene Gegevens Verordening (AVG) in Dutch). To make sure your business is GDPR-proof, and avoid a fine, take the 10-step GDPR test. Watch the video too.

Video: GDPR: privacy and personal details

Good to have

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 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.

Starters checklist

What do you need to arrange when starting your business? You will find the most important things in the Checklist for getting started.