Legal advice for starting a business in Amsterdam
The Amsterdam Area is the setting for many inspirational startup success stories. As a motivated entrepreneur, you’re looking to chase your own in this global city, but where do you begin? The web of legal requirements to take care of when starting a business may seem difficult to untangle. However, with the right resources and support, it may be easier than you first expected.
From registering your new company and searching for operational space to hiring talent and getting your taxes right, launching a business in Amsterdam may seem overwhelming at first. But have no fear – the Dutch capital is home to a thriving network of entrepreneurs and has a reputation for both embracing and supporting new business ventures. This support network will help you to navigate your way through the legal and administrative legwork that needs to be done.
Resources providing important legal information and support
When considering the legal requirements and implications of launching a company in the Netherlands, there are many resources you can access for tips, tricks and advice. The first point of call should be the Dutch government’s business page, which provides detailed English-language information for entrepreneurs. From launching to closing your business and everything in between, this step-by-step guide in particular is an essential read for anyone looking to step into Amsterdam’s startup scene.
And for overarching legal questions, there are several initiatives that can help. The Dutch Chamber of Commerce (KVK) can be contacted for information and advice on everything from choosing a business name to finding appropriate insurance. In-person appointments are available, as well as lots of online articles and checklists to keep you on the right track. For free legal advice, you can turn to the Amsterdam Law hub. Their legal ‘hubs’ are there to answer any queries you may have on a variety of legal topics, including consumer, contract, administrative and labour laws. Alternatively, if you’re looking for personal mentorship from someone who has ‘been there, done that’, you can visit nlgroeit (site in Dutch, but advice available in English).
Key factors to consider if you want to launch a business in Amsterdam
Another important aspect to consider in your planning is your legal entitlement to start a business in Amsterdam (or elsewhere in the Netherlands). The ease with which you can do this often depends on your current nationality or residency. For example, nationals of EU/EEA countries and Swiss citizens will have a more straightforward road ahead than those from the rest of the world who do not hold a permanent residency in these regions. You can find more information about this on the webpage of the government’s Immigration and Naturalisation Service (IND), as well as this helpful guide from I amsterdam.
A roundup of our top 10 most frequently asked questions
At StartupAmsterdam, we often receive questions from both locals and internationals about how best to approach entrepreneurial projects in Amsterdam. We understand that there is a lot of information to process and an excitement to get started. For these reasons we have compiled a list of our most frequently asked questions to point you in the right direction and get your startup journey on the road. Read on to learn more:
1. I’m currently residing in a country outside of the Netherlands but want to start a company in Amsterdam. What steps do I need to take?
We would recommend that you first check the requirements of moving to and working in the Netherlands as an international citizen by checking out the Dutch government’s website, as well as the IND’s page. From visas to finding housing and registering with a local municipality, these resources will provide you with all the information you need on relocating to the Netherlands. All sorted and looking forward to starting your business? We would next advise you to once again check out the government’s website on starting a company. They have a handy checklist that will keep you on the right road and help you on your way.
2. How do I apply for and renew a startup visa in the Netherlands?
As an entrepreneur from a non-EU country, you may need to obtain a startup permit to launch your business in Amsterdam or elsewhere in the country. This permit gives business minds from outside Europe one year to produce or launch a new product or service in the Netherlands. There are opportunities to extend this visa beyond the initial year. To learn more about this permit, including how to apply or extend, visit the Dutch government’s business page or the Netherlands Enterprise Agency site.
3. How do I go about setting up a business entity in Amsterdam?
You’re excited to get started but where do you begin? The KVK has outlined a handy 18-point checklist for setting up a business in the Netherlands that notes steps such as writing a business plan, selecting a name for your company and creating business accounts. Depending on the city you’re looking to operate in, the type of business you’re launching, or your personal circumstances, this list may grow. For more detailed information about the steps you’ll need to take, head over to the Business.gov.nl site for accurate and reliable information related to your case.
4. Does Startup offer personalised help and advice on starting a business?
We make sure to keep our finger on the pulse of Amsterdam’s renowned and bustling startup scene, so, naturally, we receive a lot of questions from spirited entrepreneurs looking to set up shop in the city. Although we do not offer personalised help and advice, we are happy to help steer you towards the relevant parties who can offer this. To find out more on how to get started check out the links on this page, or to learn more about Amsterdam’s startup scene in general, head over to our homepage. Here, we offer useful guides on everything from gaining funding to scaling up your business.
5. I have a company outside the Netherlands and want to expand to Amsterdam. Where can I go for advice on how to do this?
With a strong economy and a host of innovative industries at play, plus a strong consumer base, it’s easy to see why companies outside the Netherlands would want to expand their offering to the Dutch capital. For tailored advice we would recommend that you make use of the KVK’s contact channels and appointment service. They will be able to advise on how this journey may differ from establishing a company from scratch. Also, make sure to contact amsterdam inbusiness, the official foreign investment agency of the Amsterdam Area. Amsterdam inbusiness assists international companies with establishing and expanding their operations in Amsterdam – it’s free and strictly confidential. Additionally, you can check out this quick list of handy tips about scaling up your company in Amsterdam.
6. Where can I go for advice and information on bookkeeping services for my business?
An incredibly important aspect of conducting business in Amsterdam is to make sure you’re following the legal financial requirements. This can include everything from insurance payments and taxes to payroll and VAT expenditure. As such, it’s understandable that you would seek professional help to keep on top of your bookkeeping. With many accounting services available for businesses in the city (some specifically for international entrepreneurs), we recommend conducting thorough online research to discover what is on offer. And with a flourishing startup community in the city, it’s also always a good idea to reach out to peers in a similar field. Communities such as Startup Grind and nlgroeit offer opportunities for business owners to connect, seek mentorship and share best practices. For more communities, check out this page.
7. Do you have any recommendations for where to find contract templates for hiring employees?
In the Netherlands, employees are strongly protected by labour law and the terms of employments contracts. There are several contract types that employers offer, including fixed-term contracts (temporary) and contracts for an indefinite period (permanent). There are strict rules that business owners must follow to adhere to the legal requirements surrounding labour contacts, such as offering employees certain benefits (minimum number of holiday days, notice periods, sick leave etc) and the length of time they can work under a temporary contract before being offered a permanent one. These regulations must be followed by everyone who employs people in the Netherlands, even if the company is registered elsewhere. Many Dutch companies are also subject to a collective labour agreement (CAO). More information on contract types can be found on this page from Business.gov.nl. For such important matters, you may want to consider seeking the services of a lawyer with knowledge of the Dutch labour market who can draft up a legally compliant employment contract for your business.
8. What do I need to be aware of regarding term sheets?
Investment and financing play a vital role in the establishment of a new business. Term sheets state a series of important conditions that must be met in an agreement between a business and an investor such as a shareholder or venture capital provider. In this document, certain provisions are outlined, such as the amount of money that will be invested, the length of time this investment will occur for and the goal of the investment, among other clauses. The first draft of the term sheet is often drawn up by the investor, but can also come from the startup. Either way, it’s a good idea to seek out the advice of a lawyer when considering the points you wish to use in a term sheet. Details invariably depend on the specific situation and the business in question. And while these documents are not legally binding, they tend to be significant for further business dealings.
9. I am a business owner searching for legal help. Who can I turn to?
There are many legal demands that need to be met when initiating and conducting business. Therefore, it is always handy to know where to turn to for legal advice. In Amsterdam, there are organisations that exist specifically to support entrepreneurs – one of them is Amsterdam Law Hub, which offers free legal advice and education at various locations in the city. They also host several events where entrepreneurs can educate themselves on a variety of legal matters. Another organisation offering free legal advice on more general matters is Het Juridisch Loket (The Legal Counter) which hosts walk-in hours and appointments at two locations in the city. Looking for more in-depth services? You can visit the Zoek een Advocaat (Search a Lawyer) database to find registered professionals in the Dutch Bar Association (NOvA). Only those operating under this association can legally call themselves a lawyer and offer their services.
10. I want to close my business in Amsterdam. What steps do I need to take?
Has your Amsterdam business journey come to an end? Learn the steps you need to take to close your company here. This features information, provided by the Netherlands Enterprise Agency (RVO), on a number of financial and legal matters that relate to actions such as informing clients and shareholders, letting go of employees, cancelling contracts, and more. Officially de-registering your company will occur through the KVK. Check out their website for more information.