When do you have a business?

You want to start a business, and register with the Netherlands Chamber of Commerce KVK. Do you have to? It depends. Find out what the criteria are that KVK applies to determine whether you have a business.

When do I register with KVK?

Three criteria for a business

  • You supply goods and/or services;
  • You demand more than symbolic payment for this;
  • You take part in regular commercial transactions.

Additional questions 

Those are the 3 KVK criteria for registration. But there are other considerations. The Tax Administration and other organisations may not view you as an entrepreneur, unless you also meet them. These considerations can be summed up by the following 4 questions. Weigh your replies to these questions before you decide to register.

  1. Do you invest money and/or time to start or grow your company?
  2. Do you work in your own business on a regular basis, as opposed to a one-off assignment?
  3. Will you be working for more than 1 client? If you have a single client over a longer period of time, it is more likely that you are in salaried employment.
  4. Do you decide when and how you do your work?
Did you reply no to one or more questions? Or are you still not sure? Check out the following examples, or call the KVK Advice Team to discuss your personal circumstances: 0800-2117.


Here are some examples of situations and why people choose to register, or not:

Mehmet builds websites for friends

Mehmet works as a developer in a paid job. In his spare time, Mehmet builds websites for friends and acquaintances. He charges a small fee, based on his expenses. He would like to be able to send an invoice for his work, and wonders whether he should register. Does Mehmet meet the criteria to register as an entrepreneur with KVK?
  1. Yes: he builds a website, so he provides a service.
  2. No: he does not charge a commercial fee, only expenses.
  3. No: he does not do business with anyone besides friends and acquaintances.
Mehmet does not meet KVK’s 3 criteria, and does not need to register with KVK. His activities are a hobby, not a business. Mehmet cannot send invoices, but he can send a receipt (a ‘kwitantie’ in Dutch) without charging VAT.

Yildiz wants to start delivering meals

Yildiz wants to start delivering meals. She has registered as a delivery person via the app of delivery service ‘Quick bite’, and now wants to register as a self-employed person without staff (zzp’er). Does Yildiz meet the criteria to register as an entrepreneur with KVK?
  1. Yes: she provides a service or product.
  2. Yes: she charges a commercial fee, but she does not set her own rate.
  3. Yes: she works for people besides her friends and family, she works for ‘Quick bite’.
Her replies to the additional questions are:
  1. No: she does not invest. She uses her own bicycle, and does not have to buy anything. She is given a Quick bite outfit and saddlebags.
  2. Yes: this is not a one-off job. She will work a couple of days a week.
  3. No: Quick bite is her only client.
  4. No: she decides on which days she will deliver meals, but she has to abide by the rules set by Quick bite.
Based on the 3 KVK criteria, Yildiz can register with KVK. But the additional questions show that she makes no investments, only has 1 client, and cannot decide for herself how she organises her work. These are typical elements of an employment situation. So even if she registers with KVK, the Tax Administration may decide she is not an entrepreneur. Deciding whether or not you are an entrepreneur can be difficult. Does your situation resemble that of Yildiz? Then call to discuss your personal situation with the KVK Advice Team: 0800-2117.

Jeroen is asked as a trainer

Jeroen is employed as a policy advisor by a municipality and works 4 days a week. A training agency asks him to provide trainings as a self-employed trainer for 4 days a year. The training agency is his only client. He wants to register with KVK because the agency has asked him to do so. Does Jeroen meet the criteria to register as an entrepreneur with KVK?
  1. Yes: he provides a service to the training agency.
  2. Yes: he charges a commercial fee.
  3. No: even though he does not do business with just friends or family, he does not try to be competitive, as the scope of his activities is limited.
Jeroen does not need to register with KVK. He can send a receipt for incidental work (a ‘kwitantie’ in Dutch). Do you accept an assignment on an incidental basis, and are you unsure whether you should register? Contact the KVK Advice Team: 0800-2117.

Fleur bakes cakes to order

Fleur bakes cakes in her spare time, in her home. Her creations are popular. Other people besides friends and family order her cakes. She advertises on Facebook and Instagram, and is looking for a business location. Does Fleur meet the criteria to register as an entrepreneur with KVK?
  1. Yes: she provides a service or product.
  2. Yes: she charges a commercial price.
  3. Yes: she does business with others besides friends and family.
Her replies to the 4 questions about her personal situation are:
  1. Yes: she has invested in new bakery equipment.
  2. Yes: she bakes cakes to order every week.
  3. Yes: she works for several private consumers, so she has an array of customers.
  4. Yes: Fleur decides how and when she bakes herself.

Fleur replies ‘yes’ to all questions. She is going to register with KVK.

Register your business

Do you meet the KVK criteria, and are you satisfied that the Tax Administration will also view you as an entrepreneur? You can register your sole proprietorship or other legal structure.

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Last updated on 7 December 2021

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