Key considerations when running a business from home
Did you know that around 800,000 freelancers work from home in the Netherlands? Running a business from home saves you rental and travel costs, and travel time. You often only need to make a few investments, because an empty attic or the kitchen table will do. Running a business from home is allowed as long as you do not cause any disturbance in your neighbourhood. Below you can find out more about the key considerations.
Check the zoning plan
Always check the zoning plan with the municipality where you live and will start your business. In a zoning plan, the municipality indicates how you may use a certain piece of land or building. It states, for example, where hospitality businesses, shops, industrial buildings or homes may be located. The zoning plan applies to citizens, entrepreneurs, and the municipality itself.
You can check the zoning plan of your house via Ruimteplanning.nl (in Dutch). Enter your city and postcode to see which environmental category your house has. Usually, this will be category 1 and your house is intended for living in. This means that a home business is possible as long as you do not cause any disturbance to the neighbourhood. If the situation is not clear, contact your municipality.
Does the zoning plan say it is not possible to start a business in your home? Then you can apply for an all-in-one permit for physical aspects (‘omgevingsvergunning’). This is a permit for the activity 'acting against the spatial planning rules'. After an investigation, your municipality decides if an exception to the zoning plan is possible.
Read your mortgage agreement or rental contract
Check your mortgage agreement or rental contract to see if you can start a business from your home or your premises. If necessary, discuss your plans with your mortgage lender or landlord. Do you live in a rented house? Always ask your landlord for written permission. If you live in an apartment complex, check if there are restrictions set out in the rules of the homeowners’ association (VvE).
What are the differences per municipality?
The rules for running a business from home differ per municipality. For example, one municipality has drawn up a policy or additional rules about home businesses, while another municipality has not. A municipality can deviate from the zoning plan if there is a lot of disturbance or complaints. Examples of such agreements and differences are:
- In Pekela you can start a catering business from home (in Dutch). This is not possible in The Hague.
- In most municipalities, running a bed & breakfast at home is permit-free. You do need a permit in Amsterdam.
The differences per municipality can vary a lot. Always check if your local municipality has drawn up special rules for specific sectors, in addition to the zoning plan.
How do I apply for permits?
You can apply for environmental permits and permits for building and living at the Service counter for all-in-one permit for physical aspects (‘Omgevingsloket’, in Dutch).
Does your company have an environmental impact? Then you must apply for an environmental permit or report an Activities Decree. You can find out what applies to you via the Activities Decree Internet Module (DigiD is needed).
Are you going to renovate your home? Use the permit check (in Dutch) to see if you need an all-in-one permit for physical aspects of this. Read more.
Advertising and signs
You may not change the appearance of your home when placing an advertising sign on your facade. So, you may not attach neon signs to your facade or place a large billboard in your garden. If your signs comply with the rules of the municipality, you do not need to apply for an all-in-one permit for physical aspects. You can also check this via the service counter (in Dutch).
Do your customers visit you at home? Check with your municipality which conditions apply. Because when running a business from home, there should be no disturbance to your neighbourhood. Consider things like excessive noise, strong smells, and parking spaces that are continuously used by your customers. For example, a construction company in a residential area could cause disruption to neighbours, but a nail studio in your attic will in most cases not cause any disturbance.
Running a web shop from home
When you run an online shop from your home, customers are not allowed to collect purchases at your door. This can cause disturbance to the neighbourhood. In addition, the municipality could view this as retail trade. That is not allowed from a residential home.
Do not forget to take out your business insurance when starting a business from home. Your household insurance and home insurance are for private property and the house itself. These insurance policies do not cover damage to business assets and your workspace.
Find out which business insurance policies are relevant to you. For example, do you store goods in the attic or in a shed? Take out business inventory and goods insurance. Then flooding, theft and storm damage are in any case covered for the storage of goods. Do you work a lot with clients or outside the home? Damage to customers or their items at external locations is covered by business liability insurance.
You can deduct the costs of your business insurance from your profit.
Deduct expenses for your workspace
Does your home workspace or office have its own entrance, toilet and water connection? In some cases, you may deduct the costs of the workspace from your income tax return. Think of the costs of the furnishings and electricity. The Tax Administration also looks at how many workable hours you spend in your workspace. If you work outside the home office a lot, you do not meet the conditions. Check which deduction costs apply to you with the Workspace tool (in Dutch) of the Dutch Tax and Customs Administration. You can also seek advice from your bookkeeper or accountant.
Small businesses scheme
Do you expect an annual turnover of less than €20,000? Then you may be able to make use of the Small Businesses Scheme (KOR). You will then be exempt from VAT. Consider this carefully, because the choice to use the KOR applies for at least 3 years or until your annual turnover exceeds €20,000. If you have to make a lot of investments in your company, the KOR is usually not beneficial. You cannot reclaim the VAT on these investments. Also, when you have business customers, the KOR may not be suitable, because these customers prefer an invoice with VAT. You cannot give it to them when using the KOR. Read more about the advantages and disadvantages of the KOR (in Dutch) and watch the video Checklist for small business schemes (with English subtitles). In it, you will see an explanation of the KOR in 7 steps and you will discover if the scheme is suitable for your situation.
Register at KVK with a private address
By law, the home address and the business address of your company are 2 different addresses. But if your company is located at your home address, that address is visible in the KVK’s Business Register. The business address is always public. Read how you can limit your findability.
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