Starting a business in the Netherlands: Key steps and considerations

Starting a business in the Netherlands: Key steps and considerations

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Viviënne Wormsbecher from Blue Umbrella presents this comprehensive guide to help you navigate the process of launching your venture in the Netherlands.

The Netherlands offers fertile ground for entrepreneurs, boasting a robust economy, a skilled workforce and a supportive business environment. However, starting a business anywhere requires careful planning and understanding of local regulations. 

Crafting your business plan

A well-thought-out business plan is the foundation of any successful business. Start by defining your business idea, target market, competition, marketing strategy, financial projections and operational plan. Your business plan not only helps you clarify your vision but also serves as a roadmap for your business' success.

Choosing the right business structure

Selecting the appropriate business structure is crucial for your business. In the Netherlands, common business structures include:

  • Sole proprietorship (eenmanszaak): Simplest form, where you are personally liable for all debts and obligations.
  • Partnership (vennootschap onder firma): Allows multiple partners to share ownership and responsibilities.
  • Professional partnership (maatschap): Specifically for professionals like doctors, lawyers, or accountants, where each partner is personally liable for their own actions.
  • Limited partnership (commanditaire vennootschap or CV): Consists of general partners who manage the business and have unlimited liability, and limited partners who invest capital but have no management role and limited liability.
  • Private limited company (besloten vennootschap or BV): Offers limited liability and is suitable for larger businesses.
  • Public limited company (naamloze vennootschap or NV): Suitable for larger businesses, with shares traded publicly.

Consider the advantages and disadvantages of each structure before making a decision.

Setting up your business

Once you've chosen your legal structure, register your business with the Dutch Chamber of Commerce (Kamer van Koophandel or KvK). This registration provides you with a KvK number, which is essential for conducting business in the Netherlands. You can complete the registration process online or in person at a KvK office.

Ensure you obtain all necessary permits and licences before starting operations. These may vary depending on your industry, covering areas such as catering, childcare and transportation.

Understanding taxes and finances

Familiarise yourself with the Dutch tax system, including income tax, corporate tax, VAT (BTW) and payroll taxes. Register with the Dutch tax office (belastingdienst) to obtain a tax identification number (burgerservicenummer or BSN). Maintaining clear financial records and understanding tax obligations are crucial for business success.

Open a business bank account to separate your personal and business finances. Consider various financing options, including grants, subsidies, investments and loans, to fund your venture.

Employment and intellectual property

If you plan to hire employees, understand Dutch employment laws covering minimum wage, working hours, holidays and dismissal procedures. Register your employees and ensure their employment contracts comply with Dutch law.

Safeguard your intellectual property (IP) by understanding how to protect your rights in the Netherlands. The Dutch patent office (Octrooicentrum Nederland) and the Benelux Office for Intellectual Property (BOIP) can provide guidance on IP protection.

Seeking professional advice

While starting a business in the Netherlands is exciting, seeking professional advice can help navigate complexities. Accountants, lawyers and business consultants can provide invaluable assistance in setting up and managing your business effectively.


Starting a business in the Netherlands offers exciting opportunities, but it requires careful planning and execution. By crafting a solid business plan, choosing the right legal structure, understanding regulations, managing finances effectively and seeking professional advice when needed, you can set your business up for success in the dynamic Dutch market. With the right approach and preparation, your entrepreneurial journey in the Netherlands can flourish.

Are you thinking about starting a business in the Netherlands and are you looking for professional, affordable support? Blue Umbrella might just be the company you are looking for! Make an appointment now or give them a call at +31 (0)20 4687560.

Viviënne Wormsbecher


Viviënne Wormsbecher

Viviënne Wormsbecher is a tax adviser with Blue Umbrella. Viviënne finished her bachelors in law and is specialized in the field of international tax law. Viviënne regularly provides workshops...

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