Applying for the startup permit 

1) What are the requirements for the startup permit?

To come into consideration for a startup permit, an entrepreneur must fulfil the following requirements:

  • they must work with a trusted and experienced mentor (facilitator) that is based in the Netherlands;
  • they must have a product or service that is innovative;
  • they must have a step-by-step plan for developing their idea into a business;
  • both the startup entrepreneur and the facilitator must be registered in the Trade Register of the Chamber of Commerce (Kamer van Koophandel);
  • the startup entrepreneur must have sufficient financial resources to reside and live in the Netherlands for one year. 

2) Where can I find the application form?

The application form can be downloaded directly from the IND’s website. Candidates may also choose to approach the Expatcenter for help – they can assist startups with the completion of their applications forms.

3) Can I apply for a startup permit if I currently have highly skilled migrant status in the Netherlands?

Yes, provided all other conditions are met. 

4) How long does it take to process an application?

If the application is complete and includes all relevant documents, applicants will be notified of the official decision within 90 days, however, start-up applications will be given top priority at the IND in order to ideally process them sooner (the current estimation is 7 weeks). 

5) Which parties are involved in considering the application?

The involved parties are the IND (the Immigration and Naturalisation Service), which makes the ultimate decision about granting the startup permit; the RVO (Netherlands Enterprise Agency), which advises the IND on the quality of the business proposal and the question whether a facilitator is qualified and trusted, and the Expatcenter.

6) What’s the process of considering the application?

Once the complete application for the startup permit has been filed, the IND informs the Expatcenter and consults the RVO. The RVO considers firstly if the facilitator is trusted and qualified to act as a business mentor to the candidate and secondly if the product or service the candidate wants to build their business on is innovative. The IND then considers the application on the basis of this advice. 

After the decision has been made, the IND informs the Expatcenter. If the permit has been granted, the Expatcenter contacts the startup to arrange settle-in procedures and provide information about living and working in Amsterdam. 

7) What exactly does the Expatcenter do?

The Expatcenter is a joint initiative of the cities of Amsterdam, Amstelveen, Almere, Haarlem, Hilversum, Haarlemmermeer and Velsen and the IND. The Expatcenter offers streamlined residency procedures for international companies and their employees. For the past two years, the Expatcenter has contributed to the creation of the start-up scheme to better serve incoming foreign entrepreneurs. 

The Expatcenter can assist startups with the completion of their applications forms, as well as providing them with general information on living and working in the Amsterdam Metropolitan Area. As the Expatcenter also serves as a front-office for the IND, approved startups can collect their residence permits at the Expatcenter and complete their official registration. The Expatcenter services for start-ups are free of charge.

8) Which standards does the step-by-step business plan have to meet? Are there any templates available?

The step-by-step business plan has to include the following: a) the candidate's role in the startup, b) the idea for the startup's product or service, c) what it is that makes this product or service innovative and d) the steps the starting entrepreneur plans to take within the first year to transform the idea into a business. The plan should be as detailed as possible. Unfortunately, there is no standard template available. 

9) Does it matter which legal form of company the startup will take?

No. However, the company must be registered in the Trade Register of the Dutch Chamber of Commerce. 

10) How can I register a company from abroad?

Unfortunately, you can’t register a company from abroad. The registration needs to be arranged in person at the Chamber of Commerce or at a notary office. Click here for more information about registering a company. 

11) If an application is denied, can the decision be appealed?

Yes, there is a right of appeal against every decision of the IND. 

12) We already have a company registered in the Trade Register of the Dutch Chamber of Commerce, but our startup deals only with one of the products that we have been working on with that company. Do we need to register a new company for our startup?

If the product or service with which you want to apply for the startup permit is part of the existing company's core business, there is no need to register a new company. 

13) Our startup company participated in an accelerator programme last year. Currently the company consists of two people, and we would like to apply for a startup permit for a third person at the same company. Is this possible?  

Yes, that's possible. A non-EU or non-EEA citizen can apply for a residence permit on grounds of the startup rule, even if the company in question has participated in an accelerator programme in the past. However, this third person must fulfil all requirements for the startup permit, including having an agreement with a trustworthy and qualified facilitator. 

Facilitators

1) Startups must work together with a facilitator. Who can act as a facilitator?

A facilitator is essentially a business mentor. The facilitator must have a minimum of two years experience in guiding innovative startups and must agree to support the specific needs of the startup, for instance by offering help with operational management, marketing, research and/or investment acquisition.

The facilitator must be trusted and financially sound (the RVO advises the IND on the question whether a facilitator is qualified and trusted) and may not be related to the startup entrepreneur. Companies can act as facilitators, too, as long as they are registered in the Trade Register of the Dutch Chamber of Commerce have been declared to be trusted and qualified. Accelerator programmes and organisations such as Rockstart, Startup Bootcamp and Impact Hub, as well as educational institutions, investors or ‘business angels’ can all assume the role of facilitator.

2) What does the agreement with the facilitator need to look like?

The agreement must clearly state a) the nature of the mentoring, b) the conditions under which the mentoring is offered and c) what the facilitator's potential interest in the company is. 

3) Can you recommend ways to find a potential facilitator that meets the requirements?

The RVO’s website has information on the requirements for facilitators, but unfortunately they can’t recommend specific facilitators. Assessing the proposed facilitator is part of the application process.

4) How can a company wishing to act as facilitator check in advance whether it meets the requirements?

There is no procedure for a company to find out whether the IND sees it as trusted and qualified. Instead, that procedure is part of the candidate's application process, so it is not possible to check this in advance. This checklist can help with reviewing if an application is complete.   

5) Does the facilitator have any legal obligations to the candidate? Is he or she responsible for any of the candidate's business, professional or personal conduct while the candidate is in the Netherlands?

Yes, the facilitator has certain obligations as stated in the signed agreement between the facilitator and the candidate. However, the facilitator does not take the legal position of sponsor or referent as defined by Dutch legislation and regulations regarding aliens and immigration. This means that the facilitator has no obligations to the candidate on grounds of the Dutch legislation regarding aliens (such as the Dutch Aliens Act 2000). 

Financial requirements and bank accounts

1) Regarding the candidate's resources, the application refers to the minimum amount of 1139.90 Euro for each month of the candidate's planned stay. Does this mean that this amount has to be on the candidate's bank account each month for twelve months?

No. The entire amount – i.e. 12 times the monthly amount of 1139.90 Euro if the candidate plans to stay for one year – needs to be on the bank account at the beginning of that period; the candidate has to prove he or she has sufficient resources at his or her disposal for the planned duration of his or her stay, i.e. the duration of the startup permit.  

2) Is a non-Dutch bank account in the name of the candidate sufficient for the application?

No, it has to be a Dutch bank account. The candidate must be able to indicate that he or she has sufficient resources to reside and live in the Netherlands. If the facilitator does not provide these resources as per the agreement between candidate and facilitator, the candidate must be able to prove this in another way. 

3) Can I open a Dutch bank account without having a residence permit? If not, how do I fulfil the requirement of having a Dutch bank account?

You can't open a Dutch bank account without a residence permit, as a BSN number is required for opening an account and you can only get a BSN number if you have a residence permit. 

There are three possibilities for financing the stay in the Netherlands if the candidate cannot open a Dutch bank account: an authorised person can open a postbus rekening – a bank account connected to a PO box in the name of the candidate; a bank account can be opened by a notary; or the necessary financial resources can be transferred through the facilitator, if there is an agreement between the candidate and the facilitator stating that the facilitator will guarantee the necessary funds for the applicant. 

4) Do we need to provide a personal bank account or can we provide a reference from our business bank account?

You can provide either a personal or a business account. Note that in both cases it is important that the account was opened in the Netherlands and that the candidate is authorised to withdraw money from the account. In other words, the candidate must have a Dutch bank account that he or she is authorised to withdraw money from. 

5) Can I use a bank guarantee from my country of residence to prove that I have sufficient financial resources?

No, a bank guarantee from a non-Dutch bank is not accepted. The funds have to be transferred to a Dutch bank account. 

Additional immigration considerations

1) Do I require a Regular Provisional Residence Permit (MVV) in order to legally reside in the Netherlands?

Are you already in the Netherlands with a short stay visa? Or do you hold the nationality of a country for which there is no visa requirement? In that case a new application for an MVV is not required when you meet all other conditions of the startup permit.* Successful recipients of the startup visa who are already present in the Netherlands must still submit an application for the one-year residence permit. You or an authorised representative (such as the Expatcenter) can submit this application for a residence permit directly to the IND.

Foreign nationals who already have a valid residence permit for the Netherlands but who wish to transfer this to a residence permit for start-up entrepreneurs can also use the application form on the IND's website.

A list of nationalities exempt from the MVV procedure can be found here.

* Following an amendment on 1 October 2015, start-up entrepreneurs that are already present in the Netherlands no longer need to apply for and collect a provisional residence permit (MVV) at the Dutch Embassy in their original country of residence, before they can collect an approved startup permit in the Netherlands and apply for the subsequent residence permit. Read more about this amendment to simplify procedures.

2) I am currently residing outside of the Netherlands and my nationality is not exempt from the provisional visa procedure. How do I apply for a Regular Provisional Residence Permit (MVV)?

Startup entrepreneurs residing abroad can still submit their application for an MVV and a residence permit to the Dutch embassy or consulate in their country of residence. Read more about this procedure, including details of required documentation and forms.

General

1) How long is the startup permit valid? What possibilities are there for extension?

The startup residence permit will be issued for a period of one year. After one year, the startup entrepreneur may have their residence permit extended on the basis of the Dutch government’s self-employment scheme under the condition that the startup entrepreneur meets the standard requirements applicable to the self-employment scheme (click here for an overview of these requirements) and as of 1 January 2016, the application for the new permit can include a reference letter from the facilitator, increasing the chances to be granted a permit. 

2) Where can I find more information about founding a startup in Amsterdam?

The IND's website provides plenty of information about the regulations concerning the startup permit. You can also reach the IND by phone at +31 (0)88 043 0430. 

The Dutch Chamber of Commerce provides information about the startup permit and about entrepreneurship and startups in the Netherlands in general on the StartupDelta website.

The RVO’s website has information on whether you qualify for the startup permit and application checklists for both the candidate and the facilitator.

Lastly, the Expatcenter offers a lot of information and services regarding official matters, visas and work permits, and the I amsterdam portal has a wealth of information about living and working in the Amsterdam Area.