1. Why Amsterdam?

Aside from it being one of the most creative, bike-friendly and beautiful cities you’ll ever find, the innovation capital of Europe offers great advantages to the startup entrepreneur. It's no surprise that Amsterdam is home to unicorns (startups valued at more than €1 billion) Adyen and Elastic, the rapidly growing Catawiki and Picnic – as well as success stories such as Booking.com.

Three unique advantages of Amsterdam:

  • Amsterdam is a natural testbed for startups thanks to a tech-savvy, adaptive (and sometimes critical!) consumer base. Tech companies like NextDoor, Tesla, Netflix and Optimizely all based their European headquarters here with the intention of growing into Europe.
  • Amsterdam is an attractive place to live and work, so there is a huge international talent pool for you to draw from. This is the reason that companies such as Uber and 3D Hubs have based their tech teams here.
  • Once you are ready to scale, Amsterdam is your ideal launch pad into the world. Not only because of our infrastructural connectivity, but initiatives such as SCALE (Startup City Alliance Network) links us to other cities like Paris, Berlin, London and Stockholm helping you connect to peers and grow into Europe.

Another important advantage is the city's digital infrastructure. The Amsterdam Area has one of the world’s highest broadband concentrations, and it's home to an amazing digital foundation: the Amsterdam Internet Exchange (AMS-IX) – one of the largest data transport hubs in the world.

And Amsterdam is a cosmopolitan and compact metropolis with a historical centre cross-crossed by canals, and it boasts numerous world-famous museums and architectural highlights. Travelling through the city can brighten up any day. It can be as simple as the sun poking through grey clouds and casting beams across the canal, or noticing new details on that 400-year-old building you’re walking past every day. Amsterdam is also home to a diverse population, with residents from around 180 nationalities and a multicultural, multilingual, open-minded outlook. English is widely spoken (including in many companies), enabling non-Dutch speakers to comfortably live and work in the city.

In case you are still not convinced, check out our 10 reasons startups love Amsterdam!

2. Regarding taxation, costs and regulations, what should I be aware of before starting? 

Firstly, take a look in this page to find useful advice about financial and legal matters.

Before going further, it is helpful to know that the Netherlands is one of the top three countries with the lowest business costs, according to KPMG’s guide to international business location costs. Costs are especially low for digital and research and development services. The minimum cost of setting up your business in Amsterdam is €50, which covers your company’s registration at the Chamber of Commerce. For businesses with an incorporated structure (like a BV), you will need a notarial deed, which will cost you around €300. Note that you no longer need startup capital to register a BV. Prices of notary firms vary and it is worth shopping around for detailed quotations both in and outside of Amsterdam. For a clear overview of the process and model legal documents, see this blog post by Amsterdam-based Capital Waters.

Tip: The Belastingdienst website provides information in English on taxation for businesses. It is also recommended to seek out professional financial and administration advice before starting a business.

Once your company is successfully registered at the Chamber of Commerce, the details will be passed to the Dutch Tax and Customs Administration (Belastingdienst). Your company will be assigned a VAT registration number. As a business owner, you will have to pay tax to both the government and the municipality. These can include wage tax (loonbelasting), income tax (inkomstenbelasting), national insurance contributions (volksverzekeringen), employee insurance contributions (werknemersverzekeringen) and VAT (omzetbelasting). Read an overview of the taxes required for startup entrepreneurs.  

The Netherlands has a corporate income tax rate of 20% on the first €200.000 of taxable profits (25% over profits exceeding that amount). Find more information about taxes.

Tip: If you set up a legal entity, such as a Dutch B.V., and become an employee of that company, you are considered to be in an employment situation and could consequently be eligible for the 30% ruling, if you qualify as a highly skilled migrant.

More useful links:

3. Can I move to Amsterdam just like that and start up?

Yes you can. In fact, the Netherlands has a Startup Visa and innovation incentives in place to encourage you to do just that. Furthermore, IN Amsterdam is at your service to streamline procedures. IN Amsterdam is a one-stop-shop that offers a range of services to international entrepreneurs, companies and their highly skilled migrant employees, and international graduates.

Startup Visa - Entrepreneurs from outside of the European Union can apply for a Startup Visa: a residence permit that can be obtained from the IND. To be eligible for this visa you need to have a business plan for an innovative product or service and sufficient financial resources to last you a year in the Netherlands. Most importantly, you need to register your company at the Chamber of Commerce and find a facilitator (business mentor who is registered at Chamber of Commerce). DutchBasecamp can help you find your perfect mentor match. After one year, you may have the duration of your residence permit extended under the Dutch government’s self-employment scheme. Find more information about the Startup Visa.

EU members - If you come from one of the EU Member States, the EEA (European Economic Area), or if you are a Swiss citizen, you are free to live and work on a self-employed basis in the Netherlands and do not need an entry visa or a residence permit. It is advisable to register with the IND, as many Dutch authorities ask for a proof of registration. You will also have to register at your local municipality (if you intend to stay over four months, which we imagine you do) and apply for a BSN number. IN Amsterdam is available to help with any of these formalities.

Innovation incentives – The Dutch government is eager to stimulate innovation brought on by entrepreneurs, which has resulted in numerous innovation incentive schemes. The SME+ Innovation Fund is of particular interest to small and medium-sized companies and the R&D Tax Credit incentivises entrepreneurs to invest in research. Read about (micro)credits and other small loans available to entrepreneurs) in the Netherlands and the associated regulations. 

4. What are the actual steps to getting that business up and running?

First of all, register your company at the Chamber of Commerce (KvK). You are ready for this if:

  • You are legally allowed to live in Amsterdam.
  • You have a business plan.
  • You have decided on a business name and legal form.

Registration has to happen in person and, as the Dutch are quite an organised nation, you’ll need to make an appointment via the KvK website. If your company needs to be incorporated through a notarial deed (e.g. a BV) you will have to make an appointment with a notary beforehand. Find a detailed guide to starting a business in Amsterdam or download the ‘Starting a business’ pdf from the KvK. The article on legal forms of companies is a particularly useful guide to your options.

5. What are my options when it comes to hiring talent?

With an ever expanding tech community and an education system that scores among the highest in maths and science worldwide, it’s easy to find exceptional talent for your startup.

BSSA & Growth Tribe - Not only does Amsterdam attract talent from across the country and globe, it actively educates talent. Startup academies like B. Startup School Amsterdam (BSSA) and the Growth Tribe Academy train the work force that can code and grow your tech company to world domination. Find out more about BSSA’s match making events and recruitable talents and about the possibility of submitting your project to the Growth Tribe superstars.

Job portals - You can post your job openings or internships at job portals such as Dutch Startup Jobs for a fee. LinkedIn is a much-used platform among the Dutch workforce, and should not be underestimated in your recruitment process. For other budget-friendly options try scouting Facebook communities such as ‘Startup and other jobs Amsterdam/The Netherlands’ or ‘Amsterdam startups’. For a great overview of Amsterdam's startup and tech job sites, visit our job boards page.

Freelancers - Another tip given by startups is to hire freelancers as this will provide the flexibility to scale up or down as the need arises. This article by StartupDelta explains the hiring rules for working with freelancers. Amsterdam-based startup Jellow has built a platform where startup teams can recommend and scout the best freelancers. Other freelance boards include Fiverr and Upwork. There are also several networking events and meetups that provide the perfect opportunity to scout for talent. Take a look at these upcoming events.

International talent – You can also search for talent outside the Netherlands. The 30% tax ruling is designed to make this easier. From a tax perspective, the ruling means that the salary agreed upon between the employee and employer will be reduced by 30%. In return, the employee should receive a 30% allowance as reimbursement for expenses. The ruling adds an extra incentive for internationals to come and work for you. Find out more about the 30% tax ruling.

Keep in mind the importance of retaining the talent you have, as they are your most valuable ambassadors. Introducing participation plans is an excellent way to do this.

6. What’s the deal with company tax in the Netherlands?

Once your company is successfully registered at the Chamber of Commerce, the details will be passed to the Dutch Tax and Customs Administration (Belastingdienst). Your company will be assigned a VAT registration number. As a business owner you will have to pay tax to both the government and the municipality. Read an overview of the taxes required for startup entrepreneurs.  

The Netherlands has a corporate income tax rate of 20% on the first €200.000 of taxable profits (25% over profits exceeding that amount). Find more information about taxes.

Tip: If you set up a legal entity, such as a Dutch B.V., and become an employee of that company, you are considered to be in an employment situation and could consequently be eligible for the 30% ruling, if you qualify as a highly skilled migrant.

7. Where do I find office space?

Work to live or live to work? Startup founders might find they initially spend more nights at the office than in bed. Luckily, there are many co-working spaces around town (that have comfortable sofas!) Depending on the stage, your company can rent out a desk, office cubicle or entire floor at these locations. If you would rather buy or rent a property, try Funda in Business. Learn more about renting a work space in the Netherlands.

8. Where can I find housing in Amsterdam?

Prepare for the search by reading up on buying and renting in Amsterdam. You will find all sorts of advice on housing rights, mortgages and the local neighbourhoods. From our experience, the best way to find housing is through word of mouth. Socialise as much as possible when you first arrive and spread the word that you’re looking for accommodation. Try Facebook groups and other social networks too. IN Amsterdam offers a helpful checklist to prepare you for the move to Amsterdam, and a booklet called ‘My First Month'.

9. What does it cost to live in Amsterdam?

Costs are crucial for startup founders and it is important to live in a place where you can keep expenses low. TechCrunch wrote that “One of the biggest advantages Amsterdam has in the tech world is that it’s a place where people want to live – and can actually afford to, even on a startup budget.”

When comparing costs between cities, a city apartment in Amsterdam is 130% less expensive than in San Francisco. Amsterdam also rates highly in quality of life compared to other cities. The Economist points out that Amsterdam is more affordable than other startup cities like Paris and London – and that baguette or cuppa is only a few hours away. This helpful video explains the costs of living in more detail.

10. What if I want to bring my family?

You can find extensive information on family life in Amsterdam through IN Amsterdam. Find out more about accompanying partners, English-speaking employment opportunities and international schools, along with plenty of other resources to make moving to Amsterdam easier.

Ready, set, startup! See you in Amsterdam.

11. What type of visa can I get?

Entrepreneurs from outside of the European Union can apply for a Startup Visa: a residence permit that can be obtained from the IND. To be eligible for this visa, you must have a business plan for an innovative product or service – as well as sufficient financial resources to last you a year in the Netherlands. Most importantly, you need to register your company at the Chamber of Commerce and find a facilitator (business mentor who is registered at Chamber of Commerce). After one year, you may have the duration of your residence permit extended under the Dutch government’s self-employment scheme. Find more information about the Startup Visa.

This FAQ about the startup permit organised by IN Amsterdam provides a great overview of all the possible questions that may arise during the process. 

  • EU members – If you come from one of the EU Member States, the EEA (European Economic Area), or if you are a Swiss citizen, you are free to live and work on a self-employed basis in the Netherlands and do not need an entry visa or a residence permit. It is advisable to register with the IND, as many Dutch authorities ask for a proof of registration. You will also need to register at your local municipality (if you intend to stay over four months, which we imagine you do) and apply for a BSN number. IN Amsterdam is available to help with any of these formalities.

12. How can I find someone to act as a my facilitator for getting the Startup Visa?

One of the requirements for obtaining a StartupVisa permit is working together with a business mentor: a facilitator. The Netherlands Enterprise Agency made available a list with possible facilitators –together with some explanation about the role of the facilitator when starting up in Amsterdam. You can also find more information about facilitators here.

13. What forms of registered offices are possible?  

  • The foreign company registration page prepared by the Netherlands Chamber of Commerce provides information with options for establishing a legal entity.
  • The Chamber of commerce has also prepared a forms for registration or reporting changes page. Here, you can find the forms to register a company or legal entity, a branch, persons and information on how to change or end a registration.
  • Virtual office: in order to have a virtual office, you need a branch or a subsidiary of your current company here in the Netherlands.

14. What legal form of company is the most suitable for my business?

It depends on factors such as the amount of people and the purpose of your business. The Netherlands Chamber of Commerce provides a helpful list of possible forms of business. In addition, they provide a test (in Dutch) to help you find out the best definition for your business.

15. How can I open a bank account?

On this page, under the heading “Financial requirements and bank accounts” you can find enough information on all the requirements and procedures related to the opening of a bank account.

16. How can I get financial advice/support?

On our access to capital page you can get the information that you are looking for regarding financing, funding, investors, types of capital, subsidies and the Amsterdam Capital Week which consists of a five days of an intense focus on capital, creating exceptional opportunity for startups, scale-ups and investors.

17. Can I get a subsidy?

The Dutch government supports new businesses due to their potential for innovation. There are credits, subsidies and schemes you can apply for.

  • This article by StartupJuncture offers an introduction on the rules and regulations for applying for public credits in the Netherlands.
  • The Answers for Business website helps businesses navigate the large amount of information that is provided by the Dutch government. There are, for example, tax reliefs and allowances for starting entrepreneurs and schemes to start a company while still retaining your benefits. Answers for Business provides a full overview here.
  • The Netherlands Enterprise Agency (RVO) encourages entrepreneurs in sustainable, agrarian, innovative and international business. For example, the innovation credit from the Ministry of Economic Affairs supports small companies in taking up risky innovation projects. There are also subsidies and schemes for doing business internationally, including subsidies for exports that operate in emerging markets and for joint ventures between companies based in different countries. Find more information here.
  • The Startup Box website has information on the six most appropriate schemes.

18. How is the entrepreneurial ecosystem in Amsterdam?

The entrepreneurial ecosystem in Amsterdam is flourishing. That is obvious not only due to the increasing number of startups but also the number of initiatives that are popping up and developing here. To have an overview of how things are going here, you can check our list of co-working spaces, incubators and accelerators. You can also take a look in our Startup Map. This is a map of Amsterdam on which startups, scaleups, investors and other parties in the ecosystem can place themselves, and search for other startups in the same industry, for example. In our event calendar, you can discover meetups, conferences and workshops currently taking place in Amsterdam.

What's more, there are numerous news sources on the Dutch and Amsterdam startup scene, such as StartupJuncture, Sprout.nl (Dutch link) and Silicon Canals. And on our latest news page, we bring it all together: who got funded, which opportunities are available and how the city’s developing.

19. Is there still space for my business?

The answer is: of course! And you can get more details by participating in one of the multiple events that take place here. Just check-out our event calendar, which shows all startup and tech-related events that take place in Amsterdam. Becoming part of the community is all about making connections: by joining meetups, conferences and workshops, you’ll understand why this cosmopolitan city is renowned for its village-like feel. You can also submit your own startup event, and if you want an additional social-media push from us, fill in this startup-event promotion form.

20. Could you recommend me a good:

Co-working space? 

We have prepared a list of co-working spaces available in Amsterdam. Keep in mind that it is always important to check if the goals of your business match with the goals of the co-working that you will chose.

Mentor?

Amsterdam is full of mentors. They can be found mainly taking part in incubator and accelerator programmes. There are also mentor programmes such as O3NL which aims to support new entrepreneurs.

Tip: join co-working spaces and startup-related networking events to help you find a mentor

Investor?

Use our startup map to see an overview of investors located in Amsterdam. The map offers information on which stage companies invest at, the round types, companies’ additional locations around the world, the number of deals they have done, and the size and volume of the investments. In addition, you can filter the list to show results based on industry, the type of investments made, experience and recent activity. By clicking on an investor, you get to see their latest news, who they co-invest with, which companies are in their portfolio and more. Go to investors on our Startup Map.

Accelerator or incubator?

We have prepared a list of incubators and accelerators  available in Amsterdam. Don’t forget to keep in mind that it is important to find one that matches with the goals and category of your business.

Co-founder?

In order to find a co-founder the best to do is to expose your idea. Some tips for doing so are:

  • Attend startup competition events such as Startup Weekend. You can find similar events using Eventbrite. Hear what people are talking about, tell them your idea and who knows? You might just find your co-founder!
  • Visit and work from co-working spaces, and don’t hesitate to network! This is one of your main tools and the one that will certainly take you closer to finding your future co-founder.

21. How can I get in touch with corporations willing to partner up/ invest/act as launching customer? 

The best thing to do is to take a look at our Corporate Network Profiles page. Here. you'll find an overview of our corporate partners, which type of challenges they are trying to solve and possible forms of partnership. Feel free to contact the corporations by filling in their contact forms.

23 How can I obtain a working permit for a new employee from abroad?

  • If you are looking for an international intern, visit this page
  • If you want to attract specialised employees from abroad, head to this page. Besides getting information about how to obtain the working permit, you'll also find information on communicating your vacancy online, recruitment, legal matters and freelancers.

26. Can StartupAmsterdam promote my business?

No.

27. Can StartupAmsterdam provide me with inputs for my thesis project?

We are pretty sure that we can! Send us a short description of your project ([email protected]) and an explanation of how we can help you, and we'll get back to you ASAP.

28. Can I work or do my internship at StartupAmsterdam?

We don’t always have open positions, but we are curious to know who you are! So write us a small motivation with your CV attached. Send it to [email protected], and we'll get back to you ASAP.

29. What are my options for finding a job in a startup?

We prepared a  nifty startup jobs boards page with different options of initiatives specialised in in the type of opportunities that you are looking for. Dig into their websites, register your profile, select and apply for the positions that match with your searching criteria. Good luck!

30. What are the working permit requirements if I am from outside the EU?

  • If you just finished your studies here in the Netherlands you can apply for the orientation year permit.
  • If you're coming from abroad or your orientation year is coming to an end, check out the highly skilled migrants page.
  • If you're still a student in search for an internship, take a look at this page.

31. I have an idea and I think it might result in a startup. What can I do? 

We are happy to know that you're thinking about being part of our startup ecosystem! There's some special advice that we'd like to share with you:

  1. Attend startup competition events such as Startup Weekend and spread your idea around. Don’t ever be afraid of being copied. The most valuable thing that you can get before going into action is feedback.
  2. Find events using Eventbrite. Hear what people are talking about, tell them your idea and you might find a facilitator
  3. Visit and work from co-working spaces, and don’t hesitate to network!

32. Does Amsterdam collaborate with other startup ecosystems? How? 

Yes, we do. One example is SCALE (Startup City Alliance) – a platform that helps establish a transparent European startup ecosystem and enables startups to scale to the various countries in Europe and unify Europe as one solid market.

In addition, StartupCity Summit is where you can share insights and discuss the current and future role of local governments in creating flourishing tech ecosystems.

33. Can you promote our event?

  • If your event is taking place in Amsterdam and it is startup/tech-related, you can request to have it included on our event calendar.
  • If your event is taking place outside Amsterdam, send an email to Alexandra with more information, and she will reply ASAP. Email her at [email protected].