Business administration and bookkeeping for starters

Clear business records give you continuous insight into the financial position of your business. Is your income rising, or are your expenses? And which customers have not yet paid? Your financial records can be a steering tool for your business. In addition, you are legally obliged to keep records and must retain them.

Requirements for your business records

The Tax and Customs Administration 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

Keeping your records

How long do you have to keep your records? The retention period for the basic data of your business administration is at least 7 years. The basic data includes at a minimum:

  • accounts receivable and accounts payable
  • purchase and sales records
  • general ledger
  • stock records
  • payroll records

For data on immovable property and rights to immovable property, the retention period is at least 10 years. Do you store the data digitally? Then you must ensure that the programmes and files remain accessible during the retention period.

Digital or paper bookkeeping

You can make agreements with the Tax and Customs 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.

Outsourcing the bookkeeping or doing it yourself

You can do your financial administration yourself. Or you can outsource your bookkeeping to a bookkeeper or accountant. 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.


  • 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.
  • Do you prefer to do your own bookkeeping? Then consider digital bookkeeping and the use of an (online) accounting package.

Handbook on Entrepreneurship

Use the Tax and Customs 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 and Customs Administration imposes on your business administration. For basic English information on taxes, consult this page.

Do you have a question about your business administration or money matters? Contact the Netherlands Chamber of Commerce KVK Financing Desk free of charge: 0800 10 14.

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