When do you have a business?

The Chamber of Commerce applies three criteria to determine whether you have a business. These are in line with the criteria used by the Tax and Customs Administration to determine whether you are liable for VAT.

Three criteria for a business

Criteria for a businessExplanation
You supply goods and/or services
Goods: you sell bicycles, for instance.
Services: you are a handyman, journalist or accountant.
You demand more than symbolic payment for this
Therefore, this is not voluntary work or a hobby that only costs money.
You take part in regular commercial transactions
If you overhaul a bicycle and sell it to family or friends, you do not qualify as an entrepreneur.

If you meet these three criteria, your business can be registered. Also consider the indicators below in deciding whether or not to register your business.

InvestmentsDo you work in the business yourself and do you hire personnel? These are clear indications that a business is being carried on.
RegularityIf you regularly perform work or organise a major one-off activity, this indicates that you have a business.
Single clientIf you only work for a single client during the whole year, it would appear to be more likely that you are in salaried employment.
Degree of independenceAs an entrepreneur, you determine how and when you do your work, even if you are hired by a client.

Examples of entrepreneur / not an entrepreneur


You have a business that organises street parties. You do so throughout the Netherlands. You aim to make a profit with your business. Therefore you ask for an extra amount, in addition to the costs of drinks and refreshments. You are an entrepreneur and are required to register.

Not an entrepreneur

Every year, you organise a small-scale street party for your neighbours. To cover costs, you ask for a small contribution, but you do not make a profit. You are not an entrepreneur and are not required to register.

Not all the criteria, still register nonetheless?

When you start out, you will often not yet meet all the applicable criteria. For instance, you will not have customers yet. You can still register if you can demonstrate that you will meet those criteria. You can do so, for instance, by presenting the rental contract for your business premises.