Starting your own business in the Netherlands: Support and guidance from Blue Umbrella

Starting your own business in the Netherlands: Support and guidance from Blue Umbrella


Being self-employed gives a pleasant sense of freedom and independence, but it also entails certain obligations and risks. Obligations such as paying taxes and VAT, and keeping records of your business activities.

Preparing well is the best way to start. You are definitely not on your own; you can find plenty of competent assistance for new businesses in the Netherlands, like Blue Business: Blue Umbrella’s support package for small business owners.

Issues when starting your own business

Before you start your company, you should consider the following issues:

Do I need a residence permit to start a business in the Netherlands?

You need a residence permit only if you would like to start a business in the Netherlands and you are not a national of an EU or EEA country and not Swiss.

You will need to comply with particular IND (Immigratie- en Naturalisatiedienst, the Dutch Immigration Authorities) formalities.

A business plan is very important

Starting a business requires a number of steps and key decisions. The process of creating a business plan enables you to look at your business in its entirety and will help you understand the impact of starting your own company.

At this stage, you also need to think about factors like a company name, permits and insurances, business location and financial planning.

Which legal form is most appropriate for me and my business?

Dutch law recognises various legal forms, such as a one-man business (eenmanszaak), a private limited company (BV) or a general partnership (VOF).

The main difference between these forms is the liability if your enterprise should run up debts, and which tax regime applies. Most ZZP’ers and freelancers use the one-man business form.

It is wise to obtain good advice as to which entity best suits your business idea.

Which expenses are deductible?

You may deduct the costs that you make for your company's business interests. Business expenses are the costs that are necessary for the carrying of your business.

All other costs are not tax-deductible. If you have a receipt with VAT on it then you can reclaim the VAT you paid. This seems rather simple, but there are many exceptions and exclusions.

Some specific examples of expenses are:
- Costs for food, drinks, business lunches and dinners (also the tips), conferences, seminars, study trips can only be deducted for 73,5 percent and the VAT on these costs is not reclaimable.

- If you travel by train, tram or even by taxi the costs are deductible. For public transport you do not need a VAT receipt. The VAT is always 6 percent and you can calculate it yourself.

- Costs for clothing and personal care are not tax-deductible, except for work clothing. Work clothing is clothing that you can wear (almost) exclusively in the context of your business.

Do I need to work with a model agreement in order to have certainty about the nature of a working relationship?

Self-employed persons and their clients can choose to use a model agreement (modelovereenkomst) in order to determine the nature of their working relationship, and to rule out the possibility of this relationship being regarded as paid employment.

This provides clients with the certainty that they are not obliged to withhold and pay income tax and social insurance contributions.

Starting your own business in the Netherlands: Support and guidance from Blue Umbrella

Support to build your business

After you have prepared yourself well and you are ready to start your business, there will still be many critical questions.

It can be a challenge to know where and how to find the answers. Especially if you are not familiar with the Dutch regulatory business environment.

This is when Blue Umbrella comes into play. They free you to invest your time in what matters: building your company.

Sign up for Blue Business, and let them do the work for you.

Contact Blue Umbrella

If you want to find out more about Blue Business, you can contact Blue Umbrella by:
 Calling +31 (0) 20 468 75 60
 Making an appointment with one of their advisors.

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