Starting your business

The first step in starting your business should be a plan. Think about how you want to achieve your objectives, the time this will take and how you will fund any period in which your expenses are larger than your revenue. It might be sound business to take initial losses as long you meet your growth objectives. You would then be able to offset your losses against future profits. 

Registering your business

Once you have decided on a name and business activity, you should decide upon the right type of entity (see also business entities). Before you start trading, it is wise you check with a tax adviser if you need to register your company with the Dutch chamber of commerce (Kamer van Koophandel or KvK). 

Most starters operate as a sole proprietorship (sole trader or eenmanszaak) or a partnership (VOF), and these are both straightforward to register. All you need is a name and an address. If you decide to start a corporate entity (B.V.), you must create a separate legal identity with the help of a notary.  

Business administration

Once your business is registered and operating, you will need to keep company records. Your records need to include information about your stock, financial transactions, payroll administration, sales and expenses. You must keep these records for a period of seven years. For real estate businesses, you need to keep relevant records for at least 10 years.

Bookkeeping in the Netherlands

Bookkeeping means recording your business’s financial transactions. If you are a small business owner, you may need to set up your own system. In The Netherlands, you need to record and classify financial transactions, sales and expense records and balances.  To make this easier, Blue Umbrella provides an online bookkeeping system for its customers.


When you sell goods and services, you'll need to issue and keep copies of invoices (see also Invoicing). For many business activities, you will also have to charge VAT (BTW or omzetbelasting). You may also need to charge ICP if you trade internationally (see VAT in the Netherlands). VAT charged to your business can be retrieved from the Dutch tax office, if you pay VAT yourself.

VAT, ICP and profit tax filing

You need to submit the VAT you have collected to the Dutch tax office, usually every financial quarter (three months). When you have filed a VAT return, you will receive a payment request from the Dutch tax office for the VAT due. When the financial year is completed, you must file an income tax return if you are a sole proprietor or a corporate income tax return (Vennootschapsbelasting) if you are a corporate owner.

Need help with your business taxes?