Starting your business

The first step in starting your business should be a plan. A business plan to prepare you for the steps your need to take to start your business and the objectives you want to meet. Give some thoughts about how you want to achieve your objectives. How much time do you realistically need to meet your objectives? Have you sufficient funding to run your activities over a timespan in which you are likely to accrue losses as expenses are initially larger than your revenue. Running losses to start you business can be completely sound as long as you meet your growth objectives. You can offset your losses against future profits. 

Registering your business

Once you have decided on a name and the business activity, you should register you company with the Dutch chamber of commerce (Kamer van Koophandel or KvK). Before visiting the Chamber of Commerce for registering your business, you will have to decide on the appropriate business entity (see also under business entities). 

Most starters choose for a sole proprietorship (sole trader or eenmanszaak) or a partnership (VOF), which is relatively straight forward to register. All you need is a name and an address. If you decide to start a corporate ownership (B.V.) it is more complex. This involves the creation of a legal identity separate from the owners. A corporate ownership needs to be passed by a notary.  

Business administration

Once you have your business registered and start your activities, you'll need to engage in business administration. You will need to keep records of your business and it's activities. Your administration contains information about your stock, book keeping. payroll administration, sales and expenses.  You are required to maintain you administration for a period of 7 years. For real estate, you need to keep relevant administration for at least 10 years.

Bookkeeping in The Netherlands

Bookkeeping is the basis of a company's accounting system. It records and classifies the accounting transaction of the business. If you are a small business owner you may need to set-up your own system (Blue Umbrella provides an online bookkeeping system for it's customers). The activity of bookkeeping in The Netherlands involves recording and classifying financial transactions, sales and expense records, and balances. 


When you sell goods and services, you'll need to issue invoices (see also Invoicing) and keep copies of it. Depending on your business activity, you may also have to charge for VAT (BTW or omzetbelasting) and possibly ICP if you trade internationally. See also under VAT in The Netherlands. VAT charged to your business can be retrieved from the Dutch tax office through a VAT filing.  

VAT, ICP and profit tax filing

Usually every quarter of the year you will need to file the collected VAT amounts with the Dutch tax office. Upon filing the VAT you will receive a pay request from the Dutch tax office for the VAT due. After the year is completed, you'll need to file income tax return if you are a sole proprietor or for corporate income tax return (Vennootschapsbelasting) if you are a corporate owner.

Blue Umbrella for Dutch tax matters

Living and working in the Netherlands for a time? We can help you with your Dutch taxes, so you don't have to deal with the Belastingdienst yourself. Whether you're employed or have a small business, we'll make your life easier and save you money.