What are the conditions of the start-up permit?

  1. Working together with a trusted and experienced mentor (facilitator) that is based in the Netherlands;
  2. A product or service that is innovative;
  3. The startup entrepreneur has a (step-by-step) plan to develop their idea into a business;
  4. The startup entrepreneur and the facilitator are registered in the Trade Register of the Chamber of Commerce (Kamer van Koophandel);
  5. The startup entrepreneur must have sufficient finance (resources) to reside and live in the Netherlands for one year.

1. What is a facilitator?

One of the requirements for obtaining a residence permit is working together with a business mentor: a facilitator. This cooperation must be officially established in a (signed) agreement between the startup entrepreneur and the facilitator. The facilitator must have experience in guiding innovative startups.

The facilitator provides the entrepreneur with a tailor-made package of support dependent on the specific needs of the startup. The facilitator can, for example, offer help with operational management, marketing, research and investment acquisition for setting up an innovative business.

The facilitator must be trusted and financially sound. On no account can the facilitator be in receivership or bankrupt and they may not have negative equity. 

The facilitator may not be related to the startup entrepreneur (up to three times removed; child, parent, grandparent, uncle/aunt).

2) What makes a product or service innovative in the Netherlands?

A product or service can be classed as innovative if at least one of the following three conditions are met:

  1. The product or service is new to the Netherlands.
  2. A new technology or technique for production, distribution or marketing is involved.
  3. There is an innovative organisational procedure and method.

(Non-definitive) examples can include the following:

  • Stimulating business activity in the Netherlands’ top sectors
  • A self-developed new product or service
  • New product-market combinations
  • Socially responsible enterprises
  • An original approach to energy conservation
  • An original approach to environmental/sustainability issues
  • Smart and creative adaptations or combinations serving cross-sectoral applications
  • A creative or innovative market approach
  • Social innovation.

Read more on the website of the Netherlands Enterprise Agency.

3) What conditions must the step-by-step plan meet?

As a startup entrepreneur, certain activities must be undertaken to advance an idea into a successful business. Before approving an application, the government must understand what business development activities will take place. The startup entrepreneur must provide a description of this in a step-by-step plan, containing information relating to:

  • The organisation. The startup entrepreneur must have an active role. This means he/she is not simply a shareholder or financer. At a minimum, the step-by-step plan must detail the following:
    • the structure of the organisation
    • the assigned roles and tasks
    • the legal form of the company
    • the personnel
    • the purpose of the enterprise
    • a description of the idea for the product or service and why it is innovative (see section 2)
    • details of the development activities planned for the first year. A description of the planning and activities for the business; the steps to be carried out in setting up the company

4) Registration in the Trade Register of the Chamber of Commerce

The startup entrepreneur must register in the Trade Register of the Dutch Chamber of Commerce (Kamer van Koophandel). This entry must show that the startup entrepreneur has an active role in the startup. This is essential in order to be able to take decisions regarding the future of the enterprise. The startup’s associated facilitator must also hold a valid Chamber of Commerce registration. It is not necessary to deliver an extract from the Trade Register; providing the startup’s registration number is sufficient. The Netherlands Enterprise Agency will audit the entry in the Trade Register.

5) Sufficient finance (resources) to be able to reside, live and start a business in the Netherlands

The startup entrepreneur must demonstrate that he/she has sufficient finance (resources) to be able to reside, live and establish a business in the Netherlands. Startup entrepreneurs may not rely on public funds, such as welfare benefits.

The startup entrepreneur can prove he/she has sufficient resources in various ways:

  • The entrepreneur may demonstrate that he/she has sufficient finance in a bank account by providing a copy of a recent bank statement. The amount available to them must be at least 70% of the standard amount for single persons under the Minimum Wage Act.
  • Another person (or legal entity), such as the facilitator, may also fund the residence by providing financial support (resources) to the startup entrepreneur. This support must be available for the startup entrepreneur’s entire period of residence (maximum 1 year).

Where can I submit an application?

The application for a residence permit for a startup entrepreneur must be submitted to the IND by the startup entrepreneur or an authorised representative.

Startup entrepreneurs residing abroad must submit their application for a residence permit to the Dutch embassy or consulate in the country in which they are resident. View an overview of Dutch embassies around the world.

Exceptions to this are startup entrepreneurs of Australian, Canadian, Japanese, New Zealand, American (USA) or South Korean nationality. These entrepreneurs can submit an application directly to the IND using the application form on their website.

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

Submitting an application costs €307.

For successful applications, the residence permit can be collected from the IND’s service desks in the Netherlands or at one of the officially cooperating Expatcenters or Expat Desks in the Netherlands.

Who assesses the application?

For the assessment, the IND consults with the Netherlands Enterprise Agency, a part of the Ministry of Economic Affairs. The agency gives advice in regards to the facilitator (1), innovativeness (2), the step-by-step plan (3) and the entry in the Trade Register (4). A positive response is required on all counts in order to obtain a residence permit. The IND will assess the applicant’s financial means (5).

Application checklist for the startup entrepreneur

1) Proof of sufficient finance (resources) for the duration of residence. One of the following supporting documents: 

  • A copy of a recent bank statement from a bank account in the sole name of the applicant. This must demonstrate sufficient funds in the bank account – the amount available must be at least 70% of the standard amount for single persons under the Minimum Wage Act.
  • A declaration by a person or legal entity that the finance (resources) has been paid into a Dutch bank account or a bank of another EU Member State with an office/branch in the Netherlands. The declaration must also demonstrate that the start-up entrepreneur has access to this account.
  • A declaration by the facilitator that finance (resources) are being assigned to the startup entrepreneur in accordance with the facilitation agreement.
  • A declaration by a person or legal entity funding the residence of the startup entrepreneur on a periodic basis, stating that the startup entrepreneur will receive financial support for a specified period of time (a regular and unhindered flow of funds).

2) Step-by-step plan. This must contain information concerning:

  • The organisation. For example, the structure of the organisation, the roles and tasks, the legal form of the company, the personnel and the purpose of the enterprise. It must also demonstrate that the startup entrepreneur has an active role. This means he/she is not simply a shareholder or financer.
  • A description of the proposed product or service and why it is innovative.
  • Details of the development activities planned for the first year. A description of the planning and activities for the business; the steps to be carried out in setting up the company.

3) Agreement. A signed agreement between the startup entrepreneur and the facilitator, including information concerning:

  • The facilities and guidance provided: for example, (access to) coaching, technology, research, business premises, finance, etc.
  • What interest the facilitator has in the startup. The facilitator may not hold a majority stake in the startup company.

4. A copy of the startup entrepreneur’s passport (only the identity details and relevant stamped pages, see application form).

5. The Antecedent declaration (see application form).

6. A declaration of tuberculosis screening (see application form if this is necessary).

7. The start-up company’s Chamber of Commerce registration number.

Application checklist for the facilitator

1) Documentary evidence of the facilitator’s expertise. The facilitator must demonstrate that he/she has at least two years’ experience in the guidance of innovative startup entrepreneurs: for example, the facilitator’s own business plan, examples of facilitated startups, references, CVs. If more than one person is offering assistance, coaching or support, information is required for all parties involved.

2) Documentary evidence that the facilitator is financially stable: for example, recent annual accounts and/or agreements with guarantees by financers and/or accountant’s declarations and/or bank statements and/or substantiated financial forecasts. For organisations obliged to lodge accounts, the annual statement of accounts can be inspected at the Chamber of Commerce. The annual accounts need not be submitted unless the most recent annual statement of accounts has not yet been lodged. The facilitator may on no account be in receivership or bankrupt and may not have negative equity. 

3) The facilitator’s Chamber of Commerce registration number.

For more information

Frequently asked questions: startup permit

Information about the startup permit on the IND website

Application form

Room for Enterprise in the Netherlands