Applying for a start-up visa in the Netherlands
De Vreede Advocaten is a young and dynamic Amsterdam law firm specialised in immigration and international employment law for both businesses and individuals.
Ambitious and innovative entrepreneurs are highly valuable to the Dutch economy.
As most start-up entrepreneurs are not able to meet the strict requirements of the self-employed residence permit, the Dutch government has set up a more favourable scheme for entrepreneurs from outside the EU/EEA who are planning to start their own business in the Netherlands.
With an innovative idea for your start-up and good planning, you are already halfway to securing a start-up visa.
Who can apply?
Citizens of all countries can apply for the start-up visa, but citizens of certain countries will find that there are other routes that they can take. Citizens of the EU/EEA and Switzerland do not require a residence permit to perform work in the Netherlands. There are other requirements for these foreign nationals, but these fall outside the scope of this article.
American and Japanese nationals may find no need for the start-up visa as setting up a business under the Dutch American Friendship Treaty or the Trade and Shipping Treaty between Japan and the Netherlands provide a far more relaxed assessment scheme.
For citizens of all other countries who desire to start their own business in the Netherlands, the start-up visa may be an attractive option.
The facilitator: A key figure for your start-up
Under the start-up visa scheme a new figure has been introduced: the facilitator. This facilitator will assist you in developing your start-up into a successful business.
Guidance by a facilitator is mandatory and in our experience, a large part of the success of your application depends on the merits of your facilitator.
Even if you have a solid step-by-step plan and can show that your finances are in order, your application may be rejected for reasons that regard your facilitator. We therefore recommend partnering with a reliable facilitator early in your planning process.
Eligibility for the start-up visa
Eligibility for a start-up visa depends on both the applicant’s qualifications, the assessment of a business plan and the merits of a facilitator. The main requirements for the start-up visa are as follows:
The first requirement is that the product or service that you intend to develop is innovative. This may be the case if the product or service is new to the Netherlands, if a new technology for production, distribution or marketing is involved or if there is a new innovative organisational and/or process approach.
The innovative value of your product or service is assessed by the Netherlands Enterprise Agency (RVO).
› Financial support
Secondly you need sufficient financial support for the duration of your residence in the Netherlands (the current minimum is 1.139,90 euros per month). Funds may be provided by another person as well, for example the facilitator.
› Business plan
Moreover, you are required to show a step-by-step plan with information on the organisation of your start-up, a description of your innovative product or service and a description of the activities that you will undertake in the first year. The plan should show that you have an active role in your start-up.
› Administration in order
The start-up needs to be registered at the Commercial Register of the Chamber of Commerce (KvK) and there are less worrying requirements, such as taking out health insurance, having a valid passport and not having been convicted of a crime, that should in general not form any problems.
› A reliable facilitator
As mentioned earlier, you should partner with a reliable facilitator. Examples of facilitators are business accelerators and business incubators.
The facilitator should have a good track record, with at least two years of experience in guiding start-ups. Proof may be presented by showing the facilitator’s business plan, examples of previous start-ups, references, resume and suchlike.
The relation between the applicant and the facilitator should be laid down in an agreement that specifies the facilities and guidance that the facilitator will provide you with, such as (access to) coaching, technology, research, business premises and/or finances.
The agreement should also state the interest that the facilitator has in the start-up. This cannot be a majority interest.
Other requirements are that the facilitator is financially sound and registered at the Commercial Register of the Chamber of Commerce. Moreover, the facilitator cannot be familiarly related to you.
Application process: no MVV requirement
Until October 1, 2015, applicants of certain countries needed a temporary authorisation to travel to the Netherlands, called an MVV.
This MVV requirement has now been lifted for start-up visa applicants and it is now possible for all applicants to submit the application at the IND in the Netherlands.
In practice this means that you can make the necessary preparations for your start-up, such as meetings with your facilitator, registering at the Chamber of Commerce and setting up your business at a notary, without the requirement to travel back to your home country to apply for the MVV.
Options after expiry of start-up visa
The start-up visa is valid for one year. It is not possible to renew the permit so a continuation of your stay in the Netherlands afterwards requires an alternative permit, most obviously a standard self-employed permit.
An application for the self-employed permit should be filed before the end date of your start-up visa. Therefore you should use the first year of your business to work on meeting the requirements of the more rigid assessment scheme for a residence permit as a self-employed person.
As of January 1, 2016, the start-up entrepreneur can submit a declaration from the facilitator stating that they performed satisfactorily under the facilitator's guidance. This declaration will be a strong indicator for the IND that the start-up entrepreneur is eligible for a self-employed permit.
The start-up visa in a nutshell
To sum up: with good planning, sufficient funds, an innovative idea and a reliable facilitator you will have a good chance of securing a start-up visa and successfully setting up your own business in the Netherlands.
For more information, or if you require legal advice about applying for the start-up visa, contact De Vreede Advocaten.