Coming to the Netherlands as an entrepreneur

Coming to the Netherlands as an entrepreneur

Paid partnership

Nihat Kurt and Anja Seling of the Expat Management Group, a dynamic corporate group of recognised legal experts in the Netherlands, talk about the challenges expats face when applying for a Dutch residence permit as a self-employed person.

Are you a foreign national wishing to establish your own business in the Netherlands and would you like to become a creative entrepreneur and boost the Dutch economy? Or do you currently hold a residence permit under the start-up category and need to convert your status to self-employed?

Main conditions

There are a couple of conditions your business needs to meet before you can apply for a Dutch residence permit as a self-employed person. Besides proving an essential interest for the Dutch economy, your business activities need to be sustainable and independent.

A detailed and sound business plan to be assessed by the Netherlands Enterprise Agency (Rijksdienst Voor Ondernemend Nederland or RVO) must be provided and your company must be registered with the Dutch Chamber of Commerce (KvK). You will also need to prove that your business is financially stable with the help of an accountant.

Please note, processing times from the date of application are around six months.

RVO process - Points system

The Netherlands Enterprise Agency (RVO) applies a very strict points system to assess whether your business serves a vital interest. If the application is successful, you will receive a combined residence and work permit as a self-employed person. This will be issued for two years initially but is extendable. Work activities are strictly limited to working as an entrepreneur for your own business and cannot be extended to working as an employee for another company.

Approval for your business will be given if at least 30 points out of 120 are obtained for each category. However, if scores of 45 points are obtained for the first two categories (personal experience and business plan), fewer than 30 points may be obtained for the third category (added value/labour creation in the Netherlands).

The assessment will be based on the following aspects:

Market potential

The criteria for establishing market potential are, amongst others, innovative character of the product/service, unique selling points etc. A market analysis, which entails a needs and risk assessment, will need to be conducted. The analysis will need to take a qualitative and quantitive approach. Factors to consider are market size, the target group of customers, own potential market share, clear pricing and marketing policy etc.


The company structure and the competencies of the individuals (personal experience, education etc.) will be looked into.

Financial solvability

For this aspect, many points can be scored and the main factors that will be considered are solvability (the relationship between own savings and total savings), potential revenue and a prognosis regarding the liquidity of the company.

Labour creation

The business needs to prove that it will create jobs in the Netherlands, thus showing an added value for the Dutch economy.


For US and Japanese citizens, it is fairly easy to obtain a Dutch residence permit as an entrepreneur, as these nationals are exempt from a points system or having to provide a detailed business plan. If you are already a holder of a start-up permit, the conditions to change the status to a self-employed permit are also rather straightforward.

As a result of the Association Agreement with the European Union, Turkish nationals enjoy certain benefits if they wish to come to the Netherlands as entrepreneurs. They do not need to undergo the strict points system but do however need to submit a sound business plan which will be assessed by the RVO.

Thus far, only a small number of applications have been approved under this rather cumbersome immigration category. Expat Management Group offers a tailor-made and individual service and assists clients with all the necessary steps of the process.

In particular, if you require assistance with drafting a detailed business plan or finding a facilitator for your start-up, EMG can help you. Need more info? Call +31 20 707 0551 or email

Expat Management Group Immigration Services logo

Nihat Kurt


Nihat Kurt

After having lead the Netherlands department of an international immigration law firm for over 7 years in Brussels/ Belgium, Nihat Kurt is currently one of the founding partners of the...

Read more



Leave a comment