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Tips from a Dutch Accounting Firm
Following BREXIT, citizens of the United Kingdom experienced many changes to the ease and access of travel they were accustomed to as previous members of the European Union. Since the passing of BREXIT, The Immigration and Naturalisation Service (IND) in the Netherlands now classifies citizens of the UK as “third-country nationals”. This change led some travelers to ask, “Where can I live with a British passport after BREXIT”? Although this new classification puts a few extra hurdles in place for those seeking to move from the UK to the Netherlands, it’s still completely possible!
As a top Dutch accounting firm based in the Netherlands, Lead Out Finance specializes in helping ambitious globetrotters as they permanently transition their life and work to the Netherlands. Although there are several avenues for making the move from the UK to Holland, including those around marriage, highly-skilled work/employment, student visas, employment sponsorships, etc. – this guide will be specific to those who are curious about how to start their own business, expand their current business and/or to be self-employed as a UK citizen moving to the Netherlands permanently.
Moving to the Netherlands after BREXIT
Although you’ll be required by law at certain points of this process to work with a Dutch accounting firm/professional (i.e. to verify your business accounting/finances), it’s best to begin working with a firm now, at the very beginning of the journey.
Why start now? Because much of the paperwork, instructional documents and governmental communications in general will be in Dutch. If you’re not a native speaker, we highly recommend you reach out to our team before you take the next steps outlined below. Additionally, you’ll likely also need a legal resource such as Maes Law to help you navigate all of the complex employment laws and regulations that apply to your unique situation.
Before we dive into the details of starting a business in Holland, let’s talk about the basics of how to move to the Netherlands from the UK.
What you’ll need as a self employed person moving from the United States to the Netherlands:
- UK citizens are permitted to stay in the Netherlands for up to 90 days without a visa. Once you exceed the 90 day grace period, you will have to begin the official residency and business registration process.
- Be sure to gather all of the necessary personal information (i.e. any necessary translated birth certificates, marriage licenses, etc.) from the embassy in your native country before you depart for the Netherlands.
- NOTE: If you want to move to Amsterdam specifically, keep in mind that it’s one of the most popular cities in the Netherlands for expats, which means that the housing market can be competitive. Be sure to have a plan in place (as much as you can plan for these things) to ensure you have a place to stay while you seek out a more permanent residence.
At this point in the process, you will work in tandem with a team of professionals, such as Lead Out Finance – as you begin to gather the necessary documents, plans and research to make your move a permanent one.
How to get an entrepreneurship visa as a British citizen moving to the Netherlands
Decide on your Dutch business structure
Many self-employed people elect to go with either the Private Limited Company (BV) or the one-man business/LLC structure (also known as a ZZP) when applying for their visa. Each has its pros and cons and it’s important to determine which suits you best before moving forward. If you need a bit of help choosing the structure that’s right for you, take a look at this tool.
Apply to The Immigration and Naturalisation Service (IND) and Netherlands Enterprise Agency (RVO)
Those hoping to secure a visa for self employment in the Netherlands must apply to the IND for approval. The IND must make a decision on your application within 90 days. The IND can extend the decision period by a maximum of 6 months if they decide to ask for advice from the Netherlands Enterprise Agency (RVO).
The Netherlands Enterprise Agency (RVO) is an organization that measures the validity and necessity of your business’ services/products to the Dutch economy. Your business may be approved or denied through their point-based system that measures:
- Your personal experience (education, work experience, entrepreneurship)
- Your business plan (the service/product, market analysis, financing, organization, price)
- The value it adds to the Netherlands (employment opportunities, investments, innovation)
The maximum number of points is 300 and a minimum of 30 points per each category is required, meaning you need a minimum of 90 points overall to be approved.
Book a biometrics appointment with the Immigration and Naturalisation Service (IND)
Assuming you’ve traveled to the Netherlands by this point, now is the time to book your biometrics screening appointment. At your biometrics appointment with the IND, you will have your information, photograph and fingerprints imputed into the system. Officials will then stamp your passport with a unique mark (needed for step 4). At your biometrics appointment, you’ll need a valid US passport and the fee with you in cash form. You can check the current fee amount here. Once you’ve paid your fee and completed your screening, you’ll receive an extension to your temporary visa.
Acquire your BSN number
Comparable to the NIN (National Insurance Number) in the UK, the citizen service number (BSN) is a unique personal number allocated to everyone registered in the Personal Records Database (BRP) of the Netherlands. Your BSN allows you to identify yourself if you need care, receive tax returns, apply for healthcare, open a Dutch bank account, etc. To obtain your BSN, you should make an appointment with the Gemeente (in the city you plan on living in).
In order to register for your BSN with your municipality, you’ll need to provide:
- A valid passport
- A rental agreement/deed of conveyance/written lodgings agreement with a copy of the proof of identity of the owner/main occupant of the house.
- An apostille birth certificate – find out more on how to obtain this here
Once you’re able to complete this step, you will receive your BSN within 5-10 days in the mail.
Open your Dutch bank account
Once you have your BSN, you can use it to open your personal bank account (among other things).
If you’re wondering what banking solution to start with, we suggest Revolut for both your personal and business banking.
Register your business with the Dutch Chamber of Commerce (KVK)
All businesses operating in the Netherlands must register with the Dutch Chamber of Commerce (KvK). Registration is essential to obtain a Value Added Tax (VAT) number, which is required for conducting business in the country. To register your business with the KvK, you will need to book and appointment on the KvK website and bring the following items with you to your appointment:
- Your passport with the stamp the IND provided in previous step
- Your BSN number (obtained in step 4)
- €65 in cash or your new Dutch PIN/bank card to pay the business registration fee
- A brief description of your business (must be written in Dutch so be sure to have a native speaker help with this step)
- Around €15 in cash or your new Dutch PIN/bank card to pay for the official extract you’ll need (more info below)
Make sure you receive this official extract of your business’s registration during this appointment as you’ll need to submit it to the IND in order to finalize your certificate of registration with the KVK.
Completing this appointment and obtaining your extract will automatically enroll you with the tax office. You should be provided a VAT number at this time.
Open a Dutch Business Bank Account
Now that you have your BSN and KVK number in hand, you can apply for and open your business account for your business at a Dutch bank. Revolut is a great place to start.
Hire a certified Dutch accounting professional
Depending on the business structure you chose in the first steps of this guide, you will need to work with a professional accounting team, such as Lead Out Finance to generate and turn in the proper documentation, accounting, reporting, bookkeeping, etc.
If you chose the BV structure for example, you will likely have a few outstanding documents (i.e. a balance sheet) due to the IND to finalize your application process. Everything in this stage will be customized to you, your business structure, your unique financial situation and needs.
Conducting business in the Netherlands after BREXIT
Now that you’ve set up your business in the Netherlands, it’s time to start conducting business. Dutch tax laws and regulations, of course, differ greatly from the UK’s so at this point, our team at Lead Out Finance will work closely with you to ensure you are remaining compliant with the law while also running a sustainable business.
Another hurdle you’ll likely encounter at this point is the language barrier. Translation is one of our specialties here at Lead Out Finance so you’ll never have to worry about navigating forms in a language you don’t yet understand. We know you’ll get there! But in the meantime, lean on us to demystify those pesky form fields.
What are the overall benefits of starting a business in the Netherlands?
The Netherlands is well-known for its business-friendly climate, and there are many benefits to starting a business here. From our highly-skilled and educated workforce to the excellent infrastructure, there are countless benefits to beginning your new life here in the Netherlands as a self-employed professional.
If you’re passionate or experienced in professions related to sustainability, there may be added benefits for you to enjoy such as tax reductions and subsidies. These incentives can help reduce the cost of doing business in the Netherlands and make it easier for you to invest in new technologies and processes.
What are the biggest challenges of starting a business in the Netherlands?
The most obvious drawbacks to living and working in the Netherlands is the high cost of living, especially in cities like Amsterdam. Housing, in particular, can be very expensive, so it’s important to budget accordingly.
Another challenge is the high competition level, which spans across several industries. The Netherlands is home to many innovative and successful businesses, which can make it difficult for new entities to break into the market. This high level of competition means it’s crucial to have a compelling business plan that clearly differentiates your business from the others in your market.
Working with our team at Lead Out Finance, you’ll learn how to more easily navigate these hurdles, build a budget that meets your business and personal needs, and maintain a business plan that ensures you succeed in the market.
Immigrating to the Netherlands and starting a business here can be a great opportunity for citizens of the United Kingdom looking for a new challenge. Although BREXIT led to a few additional steps in the process, it’s still very possible for British immigrants to build their life in this country and to be successful. By following the steps outlined here and working with our trusted team of professionals here at Lead Out Finance, you can successfully navigate the process of immigrating and starting a business in the Netherlands.
- Not a UK citizen? Read our guide on moving to the Netherlands as a US American via the Dutch American Friendship Treaty.