When do you have a business?
- Willeke Leensma
- The basis
- 2 Aug 2021
- Edited 27 Feb 2023
- 3 min
You want to start a business, and register with the Netherlands Chamber of Commerce KVK. Do you have to? It depends. Find out what the criteria are that KVK applies to determine whether you have a business.
When should I register with KVK?
There are 3 main criteria that determine if you have a business:
- You supply goods and/or services;
- You demand more than symbolic payment for this;
- You take part in regular commercial transactions.
Do you meet theentrepreneurial criteria? Then you can register with KVK.
There are also 4 additional questions that say something about entrepreneurship. These questions will help you decide whether registration is necessary. These questions are:
- Do you invest money and/or time to start or grow your company?
- Do you work in your own business on a regular basis, as opposed to a one-off assignment?
- Will you be working for more than 1 client? If you have a single client over a longer period of time, it is more likely that you are in salaried employment.
- Do you decide when and how you do your work?
Did you reply no to one or more questions? Or are you still not sure? Check out the following examples, or call the KVK Advice Team to discuss your personal circumstances: 0800-2117.
Please note: KVK entrepreneurial criteria are different from the criteria the Tax Administration uses to determine if you are an entrepreneur. After your registration, KVK automatically passes on your details to the Tax Administration. You will be contacted by the Tax Administration within 2 weeks.
Here are some examples of situations and why people choose to register, or not:
Mehmet builds websites for friends
Mehmet works as a developer in a paid job. In his spare time, Mehmet builds websites for friends and acquaintances. He charges a small fee, based on his expenses. He would like to be able to send an invoice for his work, and wonders whether he should register. Does Mehmet meet the criteria to register as an entrepreneur with KVK?
- Yes: he builds a website, so he provides a service.
- No: he does not charge a commercial fee, only expenses.
- No: he does not do business with anyone besides friends and acquaintances.
Mehmet does not meet KVK’s 3 criteria, and does not need to register with KVK. His activities are a hobby, not a business. Mehmet cannot send invoices, but he can send a receipt (a ‘kwitantie’ in Dutch) without charging VAT.
Webinar: Do I have a hobby or a business?
Yildiz wants to start delivering meals
Yildiz wants to start delivering meals. She has registered as a delivery person via the app of delivery service ‘Quick bite’, and now wants to register as a self-employed person without staff (zzp’er). Does Yildiz meet the criteria to register as an entrepreneur with KVK?
- Yes: she provides a service or product.
- Yes: she charges a commercial fee, but she does not set her own rate.
- Yes: she works for people besides her friends and family, she works for ‘Quick bite’.
Her replies to the additional questions are:
- No: she does not invest. She uses her own bicycle, and does not have to buy anything. She is given a Quick bite outfit and saddlebags.
- Yes: this is not a one-off job. She will work a couple of days a week.
- No: Quick bite is her only client.
- No: she decides on which days she will deliver meals, but she has to abide by the rules set by Quick bite.
Based on the 3 KVK criteria, Yildiz can register with KVK. But the additional questions show that she makes no investments, only has 1 client, and cannot decide for herself how she organises her work. These are typical elements of an employment situation. So even if she registers with KVK, the Tax Administration may decide she is not an entrepreneur. Deciding whether or not you are an entrepreneur can be difficult. Does your situation resemble that of Yildiz? Then call to discuss your personal situation with the KVK Advice Team: 0800-2117.
Jeroen is asked as a trainer
Jeroen is employed as a policy advisor by a municipality and works 4 days a week. A training agency asks him to provide trainings as a self-employed trainer for 4 days a year. The training agency is his only client. He wants to register with KVK because the agency has asked him to do so. Does Jeroen meet the criteria to register as an entrepreneur with KVK?
- Yes: he provides a service to the training agency.
- Yes: he charges a commercial fee.
- No: even though he does not do business with just friends or family, he does not try to be competitive, as the scope of his activities is limited.
Jeroen does not need to register with KVK. He can send a receipt for incidental work (a ‘kwitantie’ in Dutch). Do you accept an assignment on an incidental basis, and are you unsure whether you should register? Contact the KVK Advice Team: 0800-2117.
Fleur bakes cakes to order
Fleur bakes cakes in her spare time, in her home. Her creations are popular. Other people besides friends and family order her cakes. She advertises on Facebook and Instagram, and is looking for a business location. Does Fleur meet the criteria to register as an entrepreneur with KVK?
- Yes: she provides a service or product.
- Yes: she charges a commercial price.
- Yes: she does business with others besides friends and family.
Her replies to the 4 questions about her personal situation are:
- Yes: she has invested in new bakery equipment.
- Yes: she bakes cakes to order every week.
- Yes: she works for several private consumers, so she has an array of customers.
- Yes: Fleur decides how and when she bakes herself.
Fleur replies ‘yes’ to all questions. She is going to register with KVK.
Frequently asked questions
You should use the registration forms to register your business. Select Bedrijf (‘Business’), choose a legal form, and follow the steps. Complete the forms as fully as possible. Once you have done this, book an appointment to finalise your registration at one of our offices. You can register at any Chamber of Commerce office in the Netherlands.
To register a new enterprise or organisation, you must pay a one-time registration fee. If you want to purchase a certified KVK Extract from the Business Register when you register, you can do this directly at the current fee. Payment is only possible with a mobile phone, debit card, or credit card.
Choosing a legal form depends on various economic and personal reasons. For example, with which form do you pay the lowest amount of tax? With how many people are you starting your business? Or, which form provides the best protection against risks? Use the ‘Which legal structure suits your company?’ tool to make a choice based on your situation. Or read more about the different legal forms (in Dutch) and key points to consider.
You must register your company within 1 week before or after the start of your business activities.
You can also visit our offices earlier to register your company. You can do this up to 3 months before your start date. To do this, make an appointment with one of our offices.
We will handle the actual registration in the week before the start date you provide. You do not need to visit a Chamber of Commerce (KVK) office again for this. After registration, we will send you a written confirmation of your registration and an invoice for the registration fee by post.
Do you teach once a year, or make snacks for a party of friends, for example? And you get paid for it? You cannot register with KVK. Do you still want to issue a receipt? That is also possible without a KVK number.
Check with the Tax Administration whether you have to charge VAT for your activities. You can possibly make use of the small businesses scheme (KOR).
You report your earnings for income tax purposes as income from other activities.
You do not need to register separately with the Tax and Customs Administration. You submit information when preparing your registration, which the KVK forwards in digital form to the Tax and Customs Administration. You will receive a letter of confirmation for your registration with the Tax and Customs Administration. After around 10 working days, you will receive a notification from the Tax and Customs Administration.
For this, the Tax Administration applies a number of criteria including independence, entrepreneurial risk, continuity and size of your business.
Do the Tax Administration's entrepreneur check (in Dutch) to be sure.
An invoice must meet certain conditions. For example, an invoice must show a KVK number and VAT number. So if you are not an entrepreneur, you cannot draw up an invoice.
Do you occasionally do a job for a company and they want proof of payment? Then you can make a receipt. The receipt will show your name and your client's name, what goods and services have been delivered, the date of delivery, and the amount paid. You sign the receipt to declare that the company has paid.
Your client must report the amounts paid (in Dutch) to the Tax Administration through the gegevensportaal (data portal, in Dutch). Your client may process the amounts paid in their business records.
You report your earnings for income tax purposes as 'resultaat overige werkzaamheden' (income from other activities, in Dutch).
False self-employment is a situation where you take on an assignment as an entrepreneur, but are actually an employee. For example, if you only have one client and do not plan to work for more. The client is then in fact your employer, which does not fulfil its obligations towards both you and the Tax Administration. For example, they do not pay income tax and contributions for you. The Employment Relationships Deregulation Act (wet DBA) provides clarity about your working relationship with your clients. By getting clarity in advance about your working relationship with your client, you can prevent false self-employment.
You and your client can use the Tax Administration's 'Salaried Employment or Non-employment' check (in Dutch) to check whether you are employed. If you are not an employee, you do not have to do anything else. You can then simply carry out the assignment as an entrepreneur. The outcome may also be that you are an employee by law. In that case, your client must deduct payroll taxes. Contact the Tax Administration about this.
If you perform an assignment or work and receive payment for it, you have to report it to the Dutch Tax Administration (Belastingdienst).
The options are: income from other activities or business profit. You always have to pay taxes. If you do not report your income to the Belastingdienst correctly, this is called 'zwart werken' in Dutch. It is not allowed.
You are not an entrepreneur. But you received money as an individual. For example, because you helped someone with their administration. Or you made something for friends or neighbours. Additional income you receive in cash, by bank transfer, or Tikkie is added to your other income for tax purposes. You have to declare this yourself. You may deduct any expenses you incur for the additional earnings from this amount.
Do you have no other income? Then you may end up not having to pay any tax on your additional income thanks to the tax credits. Tax credits are a reduction on your income tax and national insurance contributions. Up to what amount you can earn tax-free depends on your personal situation.