The Hague, July 23rd 2023. Last week I was asked by a colleague from abroad, in this case India, whether I could write a short article for foreign entrepreneurs/entreprises what to think about when they contemplate starting a business in The Netherlands.

For manufacturers/businesses from abroad that want to do business in The Netherlands, there is a lot to think about.

First think about in what form or legal entity you want to run your business. This could be a sole proprietorship or a limited liability company, or other forms of legal entities. You have to think this through, because of the fiscal consequences. You don’t want to be liable with your entire assets. In case you have to establish a legal person after consulting your own Dutch lawyer to think through out loud the whole set up, you have to visit a public notary that can do the work for you. Then you have to register your company with the Chamber Of Commerce and ask the IRS (Belastingdienst) for a VAT number. In The Netherlands this is called a BTW number. Normally you have to tell the IRS every three months what your gross turnover during that period was and you deduct your costs of doing business.

In case you think it costs too much in the beginning to set up a business of your own you can also work with Dutch parties that can help you sell your products on the Dutch market, or elsewhere in Europe. They can act for you as sales agents, or sales representatives.

In case you do business with consumers, in The Netherlands being a part of the EU, EU consumer protection rules are applicable.

As soon as you have to bring people from abroad into The Netherlands you have to deal with the Immigration and Naturalisation Service of the Ministry of Safety and Justice (IND).

You can ask for all kinds of visa. A tourist visa is only valid for 3 months. As soon as you want to bring in people more permanently you better inform yourself with the Dutch Embassy in New Delhi, because they can give you detailed information what you have to do in which specific situation. The thing is you can ask for staying permits and work permits and in case you want the families of your employees to come over to The Netherlands you have to arrange for that also. After a certain period of time you can apply for permanent residence. For the details go to the website of the IND, or the local Dutch embassy or consulate.

In case of permanent family reunion the spouse has to do a course to get to know the country and its cultural and historic background, and to learn Dutch, and after that he/or she has to pass a mandatory exam.

Hire an accountant. They know about bookkeeping and fiscality. They can help you with buying a company, expanding your business, or selling your business. Some of the bigger firms have fiscal advisors on board and legal departments, or corporate finance departments that deal with mergers and acquisitions (M&A).

© Robert Oosthout, LL.M., Dutch attorney at law, member of the The Hague Bar.

Although this article was written with the utmost care you cannot make any legal claims based on it. In case you have specific questions ask Robert Oosthout, advocaat in The Hague, The Netherlands. You can call me at +31 70 2505661 or send me an e-mail at