Have your papers in order before entering the Netherlands
You must have a valid residence permit
If you originate from outside the EU/EEA or Switzerland, you need a residence permit or startup visa to stay and start a business in the Netherlands.
Non-resident businessesIf you are a foreign company that doesn't have a permanent establishment in the Netherlands, you don't have to register with the Dutch Commercial Register (Handelsregister). However, if you have to pay VAT, you do have to register with the Dutch Tax and Customs Administration yourself.
Register for a citizen service number
You must have a citizen service number (Burgerservicenummer, BSN) if you want to register your business in the Netherlands. To get one, you must register with the Personal Records Database (Basisregistratie Personen, BRP) in your city of residence, or, if you are staying for less than 4 months, with the Non-resident Records Database (Register Niet-Ingezetenen BSN, RNIBSN). There are 19 registration addresses. As a non-resident, you need to have a permanent address abroad as well as a temporary one in the Netherlands, and be able to show proof of both when you come to register your business.
Check if you need to register with the Netherlands Chamber of Commerce KVKYou only need to register with the Netherlands Chamber of Commerce KVK if you are an entrepreneur. You qualify as an entrepreneur if you supply goods or services independently, with the intention to make a profit. Online businesses can also qualify.
Find out if you qualify as an entrepreneur
Are you starting up as a freelancer or self-employed professional without staff (zzp'er)? You may need to register; it depends on whether your business satisfies the criteria for an enterprise. If you are not sure whether you need to register your business, contact KVK.
Your company needs a Dutch address
To register your company in the Dutch Commercial Register, you need to have a Dutch address. This can be your own address, if you have one, or a so-called zakenadres, for instance your accountant's address. Ask for a signed statement that they allow you to use their address as business address. If you plan on establishing your company in the Netherlands, find business premises before you register at the KVK.
There is an exception to the rule that you need a Dutch address: if you live abroad in the border region, and you can prove you perform business activities in the Netherlands on a structural basis, for instance as a market vendor, you can register with your foreign address.
Choose a trade name for your Dutch businessThe first step in your company registration process is finding a suitable trade name. Your Dutch business needs a company name when you register with the Netherlands Chamber of Commerce KVK. A good company name:
- doesn’t create a wrong impression;
- is not a brand name used by another company;
- does not sound or look too much like that of another business;
- does not contain special characters ( ) ? ! * # /.
The Handelsregister - the Dutch Commercial Register
When you register at KVK, your company will be listed in the Dutch Commercial Register or Handelsregister. Every Dutch company is listed there and everyone has access to check the register. Are you looking for a company, for instance to see if it is trustworthy? Then check the Commercial Register. Use the search function. This page is in Dutch. Fill in the name of the business you're looking for in the frame underneath 'Zoeken', and press enter. All entries of companies bearing the name you entered will appear.
Choose a Dutch legal structure
As a starting entrepreneur, you must choose a legal structure, like sole proprietorship, a commercial partnership (vof) or a private limited company (bv). Which legal form is most suitable for you, depends on your situation. For instance, how do you want to appoint liability (who is responsible for debts), and which fiscal benefits are available? Use the tool Choosing a legal structure on Business.gov.nl to find out which legal structure suits your situation best.
The following legal forms are always required to register in the Commercial Register:
N.B.: Freelancer and zzp'er are not legal structures. If you freelance in the Netherlands or if you are a self-employed professional without personnel, you have the option to register as a sole proprietor or as a private limited company (besloten vennootschap, bv).
Check whether your business must register UBOs
Depending on the legal form of your company, you also need to register ultimate beneficial owners (UBOs). A UBO is the owner or the person who is effectively in control of an organisation. Every EU country must keep a UBO register. In the Netherlands you register your UBOs with KVK (in Dutch). See for more information the article UBO register: questions and answers.
You may not need to register separately with the Tax and Customs Administration
If you register as a sole proprietor, KVK will pass on your details to the Dutch Tax and Customs Administration (Belastingdienst), who will issue you with a VAT identification number (BTW-id), to use for correspondence and invoices to your customers, and a VAT number (BTW nummer), to use for your dealings with the Tax Administration. You will receive these numbers from the Tax and Customs Administration by post.
You will need to register separately with the Tax and Customs Administration if you have chosen a private limited company (bv) or public limited company (nv) as your legal structure. In that case, your registration at both KVK and the Dutch Tax and Customs Administration will be handled by a civil-law notary, and you will be issued with an RSIN number (identification number for legal entities and associations).
N.B.: the Tax and Customs Administration uses different criteria from KVK to establish whether or not you are an entrepreneur for VAT or income tax purposes.
Fill out the form before your appointmentDo you want to start a sole proprietorship or a partnership? To register your business officially, you need to make an appointment at one of the KVK offices. You can prepare for your registration with KVK by filling out the appropriate form as much as possible. There are several forms in fillable pdf-format to choose from. You can think of:
- your personal details;
- your business contact details;
- a company description.
Do you want to start a private or public limited company? You will need to register via a civil-law notary, who will handle the details for you and who will draw up your articles of association. This involves a legal fee.
Make an appointment with KVK
You can make an online appointment for your registration, or you can call +31 88 5851585 (press 9 for the menu in English). You have to come to one of the KVK offices in person to register if your business structure is sole proprietor or a partnership.
Costs and KVK number
During the appointment you receive your Netherlands Chamber of Commerce registration and KVK number. Upon registration, you pay a non-recurring (one-time) registration fee. You have to pay this fee directly with debit or credit card. You cannot pay cash.
Do not forget your ID
When you come to register, you need a valid identification document, for instance a passport. Without one, the Netherlands Chamber of Commerce cannot complete your registration. You will have to return with your ID to make your registration final.
Bring your Dutch business premise lease contract
If your business address differs from your private address, you must bring your business premise lease or purchase contract.
Register in time
There are three possible moments to register with the Netherlands Chamber of Commerce KVK:
- No later than one week after starting your business;
- One week prior to starting your business;
- Earlier. In that case, the registration will become official one week prior to the start of your business. You don’t have to come to the Netherlands Chamber of Commerce again.