Being legally entitled to start a business

Those starting their own business should first determine whether they’re legally entitled to do so in the Netherlands. Nationals of one of the EU member states or the EEA (European Economic Area) and Swiss citizens are free to live and work on a self-employed basis in the Netherlands. Although not legally required to register with the IND (Immigration and Naturalisation Service), it is advisable to do so because documentation may be requested, for example, by an insurance company. If you are neither a Dutch national nor EU citizen and do not have permanent residency, you should check carefully with the IND (or a lawyer) concerning your individual situation and residency rights. Highly skilled migrants, for instance, are unable to establish a private company with their existing residence permit. However, there are some other options, such as the scheme for start-ups: a residence permit programme that affords ambitious entrepreneurs from outside the EU one year to launch an innovative new business in the Netherlands.

Registering the company

Registration with the Dutch Chamber of Commerce is compulsory for every business. There is an online form (in Dutch) that needs to be filled in before making an appointment. In order to do this, the business name and legal form of company should be established. The business or trade name must be clear, unique (existing trademarks can be checked with the Benelux Office for Intellectual Property), appropriate and advertise only the services actually provided. The legal form of company, i.e. how the company should be structured, depends on such issues as whether the business is operated by one or several owners, whether there will be financial partners and so on. Find an overview of the legal forms of companies in the Netherlands here and learn more about registering a company here