Everything you need to know about the VAT identification number

If you start a business, the Dutch Tax and Customs Administration (Belastingdienst) will determine whether you are an entrepreneur for VAT purposes. If they decide that you are, you will need a VAT identification number (btw-id) and a VAT tax number (omzetbelastingnummer). In this overview, you will find out what those numbers are, why you need them, and how you can check your customers’ VAT ID number.

What is a VAT identification number?

A VAT identification number is a unique number for sole proprietors and self-employed persons. The Tax and Customs Administration gives you this number, if they consider you to be an entrepreneur for VAT purposes. You use your VAT ID number for the contact you have with your customers and suppliers, such as on your invoices and website. In short, on all your external communications.

The VAT ID is not linked to your Citizen Service Number (Burger Service Nummer, BSN). As a result, your privacy is better protected. The VAT ID looks like this:

  • the country code NL
  • 9 (random) digits
  • the letter 'B'
  • a 2-digit verification number

Example VAT ID number: NL 123456789B01.

Displaying your VAT ID

You are required to include your VAT ID number on your invoices. Do you sell via the internet or offer your services there? In that case, you must also clearly state your VAT ID number on your website.

Updated invoice requirements

Specific invoicing requirements sometimes apply. For example, for entrepreneurs in the hospitality industry, travel agencies, public transport, and taxi transport. In this case, you do not always have to put VAT ID on your invoice.

Apply for a second VAT identification number

You can apply for a second VAT identification number if you are going to carry out new activities within your company. For example, are you starting new activities with a different SBI code or do you have multiple branches? Then you must report this to KVK (in Dutch). You can apply for a second VAT identification number from the Tax Administration. A second number means you must file an additional VAT return and keep separate accounts. This can be useful if your new activity falls under a different VAT rate. There is not a special application form for this at the Tax Administration.

What is a VAT number?

When contacting the Tax and Customs Administration, you use your VAT number. For sole propropietorships, the VAT number is based on the Citizen Service Number (BSN). The VAT number is used for your VAT return, to reclaim non-recoverable VAT, and to reverse-charge your VAT. The number looks like this:

  • an RSIN/fiscal number or Citizen Service Number (BSN)
  • an addition of 3 positions: B01 up to B99

Example VAT number: 111234567B01.

What is a sub-number?

The sub-number is a 2-digit number, usually 01. You will find this verification number after the 'B' in your VAT ID. If you have had a VAT number before, the sub-number is probably 02.

How can I get my VAT ID and VAT numbers?

Which numbers you get and how you get them depends on your legal form:

Numbers for your sole proprietorship

If you register your sole proprietorship in the Netherlands Chamber of Commerce KVK Business Register, you will receive two letters from the Tax and Customs Administration within two weeks. One letter will give you your VAT number and one letter your VAT identification number.

Why do sole proprietorships get two numbers?

The old VAT number for sole traders and self-employed professionals was based on your Citizen Service Number (BSN) number. The new VAT ID reduces the risk of identity fraud and improves privacy. Sole proprietorships now get a VAT identification number and a VAT number.

Numbers for other legal entities

Private limited companies (bv) are founded through a notary. The notary founds the private limited company and registers it in the Dutch Business Register. The Tax and Customs Administration is automatically informed and will send you a letter within 2 weeks.

When registering a general partnership (vof), professional partnership (maatschap), or other legal entities, you will also receive a letter from the Tax and Customs Administration within two weeks of registering with the KVK Business Register. This letter displays your VAT identification number and your VAT tax number. For nearly all legal forms (except for the sole proprietorship) the two numbers are nearly the same. The only difference is that the VAT ID contains the letters ‘NL’ and the VAT number does not. For 'non-sole-proprietorships' the 9 digits of the VAT ID number are the same as the RSIN identification number (Rechtspersonen en Samenwerkingsverbanden Identificatie Nummer) that general partnerships, limited partnerships, and private limited companies are given.

Numbers for your foundation or association

You can only apply for a VAT number for an association or foundation if it meets the requirements for entrepreneurship. The Tax and Customs Administration determines whether you run a business for VAT purposes on the basis of your registration in the Business Register. Do you qualify as a business? You will then receive a VAT number in writing from the Tax and Customs Administration. If there is any doubt or uncertainty about the registration, the Tax and Customs Administration will contact you.

Applying for numbers with the Tax and Customs Administration without Business Register registration

In principle, all businesses and legal entities in the Netherlands need to register with the Dutch Business Register. However, there are a few exceptions:

  • undisclosed partnerships without an enterprise
  • informal associations
  • sole proprietorships with activities that do not qualify as business according to KVK
  • foreign legal forms without a branch in the Netherlands
  • open-end funds on joint account

Does one of these situations apply to you? Report to the Tax and Customs Administration and apply for a VAT ID number through the form ‘Opgaaf startende onderneming’ (Declaration Start-up Firm, in Dutch).

Tax numbers for individuals

You get your VAT ID number in writing from the Tax and Customs Administration after you register a business, if your business meets the requirements for entrepreneurship. If you do not have a business, you cannot apply for a VAT identification number.

VAT and solar panels

If you want to claim a refund of the VAT on solar panels, you do not have to register with the KVK Business Register. Instead, you can reclaim the VAT via the form ‘Opgaaf zonnepaneelhouders´ (Declaration solar panels, in Dutch).

The difference between your KVK number and tax numbers

A KVK number shows that you are officially registered with the Dutch Business Register. In other words, that you officially run a business. You use your VAT ID number in communication with your customers. Moreover, you are required to include your VAT ID on your website and invoices. You use the VAT number in all communications with the Tax and Customs Administration.

What VAT rate to use?

In the Netherlands, there are 3 rates: 0%, 9%, and 21%. Every entrepreneur is required to charge VAT on the services or goods they supply. The standard rate on your goods or services is 21%, also known as the high rate.

For some service providers, such as hairdressers and shoemakers, the 9% rate applies, but these are exceptions.

Finally, the 0% VAT rate applies if you make international deliveries within the EU. If you export goods to a business customer in another EU country, you apply the 0% VAT rate. Your customer then pays the local VAT, not the Dutch VAT.

Check which VAT rate applies to your business and services with the Tax and Customs Administration.

VAT Exemption

Some professions are exempt from VAT, such as physiotherapists, funeral directors, nurses, and childcare providers. You can find the list of exempt professions on the website of the Tax and Customs Administration. If this applies to you, you do not charge VAT. You cannot reclaim any VAT either.

VAT return

In order to file your VAT return, you need a VAT number. Most entrepreneurs file their VAT return digitally each quarter.

The VAT return must be filed within 1 month after your return period. The first quarter ends on 31 March. This means that you have 1 month from that date on to file your VAT return. Therefore, your return must be submitted by 30 April.

Are you making use of the Small Businesses Scheme (Kleineondernemersregeling, KOR)? Then you do not have to file a VAT return. But you cannot reclaim any VAT either.

Good to know: the terms ´turnover tax return´ (aangifte omzetbelasting) and ´VAT return´ (btw-aangifte) mean the same thing and are both used.

You can do your own accounting or choose to outsource your accounts to a professional. When looking for a good bookkeeper or accountant, it is best to consider three factors: the price, the quality, and the service you want them to provide. Do you have no knowledge of accounting or are your financial records complex? Then consider outsourcing your books to a professional. Look for a good bookkeeper or accountant through your own network. Or consult the Dutch Association of Accounting and Tax Experts (NOAB, Nederlandse Orde van Administratie- en Belastingdeskundigen) or the Royal Netherlands Institute of Chartered Accountants (NBA, Koninklijke Nederlandse beroepsorganisatie van Accountants).

eHerkenning and your VAT return

eHerkenning allows you to log in and securely take care of all online matters. More than 500 different service providers have adapted this system, such as the Tax Administration, UWV, local municipalities and insurers. This system is comparable to DigiD, but for entrepreneurs.

Does your company have another legal form than a sole proprietorship, such as a general partnership (vof) or a private limited company (bv)? Then you need eHerkenning to file your VAT return. Remember to apply for an account in time, because you cannot file your VAT return without it.

Claim a refund of non-recoverable VAT

After you deliver a product or service, you send an invoice. Unfortunately, it can happen that a customer does not pay the invoice, or only partially. Meanwhile, you have already reported the VAT on the invoice as ‘VAT received’ in your quarterly VAT return. You can claim a refund of this non-recoverable VAT if the customer still has not paid one year after the payment deadline has passed. Did you not specify a payment term? Then the legal payment term of 30 days after sending the invoice applies.

How to arrange a refund of non-recoverable VAT?

Example: you sent an invoice to Kees Jansen after installing a window frame on 1 October 2020.
  • €1000 - Window frame (this is your turnover)
  • €210 - VAT 21%
  • €1,210 - Total amount to be invoiced to customer

Kees Jansen still has not paid the invoice after 1 year and you do not expect to ever receive it. How do you reclaim this VAT? You process this in your VAT return in the same quarter, but one year later. The tax authorities call a quarter a period of time. In this example, it is the last quarter of 2021. You deduct the VAT amount from the VAT you would have to pay. You also deduct the amount of turnover (€1,000) from your turnover in that quarter.

You can find more information about irrecoverable VAT on the site of the Tax Administration (in Dutch).

Reverse-charging VAT

Will you reverse-charge the VAT? Then you charge no VAT on your invoice. Instead, the invoice should include the statement ‘btw verlegd’ (VAT reverse-charged) and the VAT ID of your customer.

Lost your number?

Make sure to hold onto your new VAT identification number. Did you lose it? If so, you can request a copy of the letter with the number via the Tax Information Line: 0800-0543.

Have you lost your VAT number? Log in to the tax portal for entrepreneurs, Mijn Belastingdienst Zakelijk, which is where you also submit your VAT return, for example. There you will find the number.

How can I find and check my customer or supplier’s number?

Are you looking for the VAT ID number or VAT number of a company? Or do you want to check a business partner's number? You will often find the VAT identification number on their website. If not, you will need to contact the company itself. You can only get the numbers directly from the customer or supplier.

You can check VAT numbers of companies and other organisations registered in the EU on the European Commission’s site via the online VIES system. You can also check the name and address details of business partners here. Do not search the VIES website with your VAT number. And do not give this number to customers and suppliers. This is because when you check the number on the VIES website, you get the message: ‘Invalid VAT number for intra-EU cross-border transactions’. When checking, enter your VAT ID. Then you get the message: ‘Yes, valid VAT number’. So when customers and suppliers ask for your VAT number, give your VAT ID. Like you, they can check this number in VIES.

Your tax numbers when closing your business

When you cancel your VAT number or VAT identification number, that means you are permanently closing down your business. To do so, you must first deregister your company from the KVK Business Register. KVK will then pass this on to the Tax and Customs Administration. Because it takes some time for the change to be processed in the database, it is possible that you still have to submit a VAT return in the meantime. You also have to close your company's accounts and file a final VAT return. In the step-by-step checklist for ending your business, you can read exactly what you need to do.

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Do you have questions about your Business Register registration or VAT number and can't find a solution in this article? Please contact us, we are happy to help.