The UBO register: questions and answers

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  • Bijgewerkt 14 dec 2020
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Over 1.5 million organisations have to register their UBOs in the Netherlands. UBOs (Ultimate Beneficial Owners) are the persons who ultimately benefit from, or have an interest in an organisation. So what exactly is an UBO, and does your business have to register any? Read up on the 5 main questions and answers.

1. What are UBOs?

The acronym UBOs stands for ultimate beneficial owners; the persons who ultimately benefit from, or have an interest in a business or organisation. Examples are persons who own more than 25% of the shares in a private limited company (bv), or who have a substantial interest of over 25% in a commercial or public partnership (vof or maatschap).

Do you want to know who your organisation's UBOs are? Your organisation is responsible for determining this. The Netherlands Chamber of Commerce KVK does not give advice on how to decide. We can give you information how to determine the UBOs in your organisation:

2. Do I have to register UBOs?

Organisations with the following legal forms are required to register UBOs:

  • private and public limited companies (bvs and nvs) that do not operate on the stock exchange
  • foundations (stichtingen)
  • associations (verenigingen):
    • with full legal capacity
    • with limited legal capacity and commercial activities
  • mutual insurance societies (onderlinge waarborgmaatschappijen)
  • cooperatives (coöperaties)
  • partnerships: commercial partnerships (vofs), public partnerships (maatschappen) and limited partnerships (commanditaire vennootschappen)
  • shipping companies (rederijen)
  • European public limited liability companies (SE)
  • European cooperative societies (SCE)
  • European Economic Interest Groupings that are headquartered in the Netherlands, according to their articles of association

Churches and denominations are also required to register UBOs. It is not yet certain when this will be possible; the churches will be informed when it is.

No registration duty

Organisations with one of the following legal structures are not required to register:

  • sole poprietorships / sole traders (eenmanszaken)
  • private and public limited companies (bvs and nvs) that operate on the stock exchange
  • 100% subsidiaries of limited companies that operate on the stock exchange
  • owners’ associations
  • legal structures under incorporation (in oprichting)
  • associations with limited legal capacity and without commercial activities
  • legal entities under public law
  • other private bodies, including historical legal entities like guilds and courtyards (hofjes)

Foreign legal structures, like an Ltd or GmbH, and foreign legal structures that only have branch offices in the Netherlands, do not have to register UBOs in the Netherlands. They do have to register in the country they were established in.

Processing of personal data in the UBO register happens according to the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR, AVG in Dutch).

3. Why is there a UBO register?

The UBO register is a direct consequence of European regulations. Its aim is to prevent abuse of the financial systems: for laundering money, for example, and for financing terrorism. The UBO register makes clear who is really in charge of organisations founded in the Netherlands, so that persons who engage in financial-economic crimes can no longer hide behind Dutch organisations. And because the register is public, it allows you to perform a more thorough check on who your business partners are.

Every EU Member State has to keep a UBO register. In the Netherlands, the Netherlands Chamber of Commerce KVK has been appointed keeper of the UBO register.

4. When can I register my organisation's UBOs?

The duty to register UBOs came into effect on 27 September 2020.

Do you represent an existing organisation?

You register your UBOs using an online UBO report. Do you have multiple organisations? You have to submit one UBO report per organisation.

Are you starting a new organisation?

When you register your starting company at the KVK or the civil-law notary, you also register your UBOs. You use UBO forms to do so. You cannot register UBOs for a new organisation online.

5. Who is allowed to view the information in the UBO register?

KVK acts in full accordance with the GDPR guidelines when handling the UBO's data. Due to legal requirements, part of the information recorded in the UBO register is public. Everyone may view the following data:

  • first and last name
  • month and year of birth
  • nationality
  • country of residence
  • the type and scope of the UBO's interest

If a UBO is a minor or falls under curatorship, guardianship or police protection, these data may be screened off. The KVK UBO register extract will only show the type and scope of the UBO’s interest. This screening-off does not apply to organisations that perform financial tasks that fall within the scope of the Wwft.

Part of the UBO data is not public. It can only be viewed by the competent authorities, such as the Public Prosecution Service (Openbaar Ministerie). They use the data for their research into the use of the financial system for money laundering and terrorism financing.