KVK Business Register: 5 misconceptions

Do not believe everything you hear about the Netherlands Chamber of Commerce KVK Handelsregister (Business Register). Some say the register would not be up-to-date, or that KVK only uses the register to earn money by selling your data. Not true. Here is a debunk of the 5 most common misunderstandings about the Business Register.

The Dutch Business Register, or in Dutch the Handelsregister, contains all companies, legal entities and other organisations that participate in economic transactions in the Netherlands. It is a public register which is consulted millions of times annually by companies, governments and citizens. The Business Register tells you who you are doing business with, who is allowed to sign on behalf of the company and whether or not the company is bankrupt. Managing the Business Register is a statutory task of KVK.

Misconception 1: "The Business Register is old-fashioned, it is of no use to me as an entrepreneur"

The Business Register makes it easier for entrepreneurs to do business. By registering in the Business Register you demonstrate that you have a business. You will then receive a KVK-number. You need that number, for example, when opening a business bank account number, signing a rental contract or lease agreement. You also use a KVK-number when ordering office supplies and applying for an NS Business Card. By registering in the Business Register you can show everyone that the company exists and that you can do business on behalf of the company. Governments such as the Dutch Tax Administration (Belastingdienst) and municipalities also use data from the Business Register. This way you do not have to submit your data separately to all the different government organisations.

Misconception 2. "KVK uses the Business Register to earn money by selling address details"

The Business Register exists to make doing business easy and safe, not to make money. Most of the data in the Business Register can be consulted by everyone. The law dictates this. The Business Register offers certainty when doing business. Certain companies and organisations use the public data for advertising and marketing purposes as well. Entrepreneurs receive unwanted mail or emails, or have to deal with unsolicited phone calls or visits from salespeople. From 1 July 2021, companies are not allowed to call you for these purposes anymore if you have a sole proprietorship (eenmanszaak, for self-employed professionals), commercial partnership (vof), or public partnership (maatschap). To further limit this kind of contact, you can activate the KVK Non-Mailing Indicator. With the Non-Mailing Indicator, you indicate that you do not want your Business Register data to be used for postal advertising or door-to-door sales. 

Do you want to do research, find new customers, or know who your competitors are? Then you can use an address file from the Business Register. It is possible to make a targeted selection based on, for example, industry, location, and number of employees. The Business Register also forms the basis for two data products that are freely available to everyone: the Location Scan (in Dutch) and KVK Regional data (in Dutch). With the Location scan you can find a suitable location for your business. KVK Regiodata shows which economic developments there are in your region.

Misconception 3. "The Business Register is not up to date and contains companies that no longer exist"

Trust us: the information in the Business Register is correct. This is laid down in the Businessl Register Act (in Dutch). Information in the Business Register is therefore always leading. KVK checks whether registered companies are still active. Companies themselves must keep their Business Register data up-to-date. The actual situation must correspond with the recorded data. An amendment will only come into effect when it is included in the Business Register. For example, new directors are only authorised to conclude contracts when they are registered. So, if you are looking for reliable information about a Dutch company you want to do business with, the Business Register should be your first port of call. 

It follows that companies have to report changes on time. Does a company not have its registration in order? Then this can have adverse consequences. An example are companies that missed out on corona support because they were not registered in the Business Register with the correct business activities. 

The Business Register is one of the ten digital key registers of the government. These key registers are interlinked. By sharing data, government organisations can work more efficiently and improve their service. As an entrepreneur, you do not have to provide certain data more than once. For example, if you move, you notify the municipality. The municipality registers the new residential address in the Personal Records Database (BRP). Your residential address will then automatically change in the Business Register. If your home address is the same as the business address of your company, KVK will adjust this. You will then receive a letter about the change. This is how we keep the Business Register up-to-date.

Company not active?

KVK also checks whether companies registered in the Business Register are still active. For example, by comparing the registrations in the Business Register with tax authority data. If the income tax return shows that a company is no longer active, KVK will contact this company. Depending on the situation and the legal form of the company, KVK can remove the company from the Business Register (in Dutch).

Misconception 4. "KVK wants to earn money from registration in the Business Register"

KVK works on a not-for-profit basis and does not make any money from the Business Register. KVK provides products and services for a fee to cover the costs of managing the Business Register. For example, you pay a one-off registration fee for registering your company. The tariffs only cover part of the costs of the Business Register. The remainder is paid by the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate Policy.

Some entrepreneurs receive phone calls from fraudsters for a listing in a business directory. Don’t take the bait; always check who you’re doing business with. Avoid becoming a victim of acquisition fraud (in Dutch). Have you received an invoice from KVK? Check whether it is correct.

Misconception 5. “By definition, companies registered in the Business Register are reliable”

Unfortunately, registration in the Business Register isn't proof of the reliability of a company. The Business Register lists objective information about a company, such as trade name, contact details, number of employees, details of owner / director and authorisation to sign. Subjective data, such as payment behaviour or reputation of a company, is not registered. The Business Register does record a company’s bankruptcy and the history of the company. You will find answers to the questions: Who was the previous owner? Where was the company located? And what business activities has the company had? Knowing who you are doing business with is doing business safely. Always check the details of your business partner in the Business Register with this checklist.

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