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ACE Blogs: start your business in the Netherlands

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Eenmanszaak literally means one-person company in Dutch.

Yes, the Dutch government has made entrepreneurship very easy. You can start your company by yourself, with 50 euros, through an online form, and with your personal bank account. You can even apply for a startup visa or self-employ visa through your own company and secure your resident permit to live in the Netherlands.

Securing your startup visa and self-employ visa is a big advantage as an international student/expat, especially if you a newly graduate during an uncertain time like now during the COVID-19 pandemic. This is exactly why I start this blog to share my experience in applying my startup visa, because I hope the information can help non-EU entrepreneurs who want to stay and contribute their talents in the Netherlands. You read the first article for an overview of this blog: Need a Startup Visa in the Netherlands? Get These 3 Documents Before Applying.

It actually took me way too long to overcome the fear of starting a company in a foreign country, because the idea of going through all those Dutch bureaucratic documents was just too intimidating. It was until I have to send my first invoice to my client, that I finally push myself through and got the registration done.

Funny enough, I then realized how friendly the Kamer van Koophandel (KVK, Chamber of Commerce) is. The staff spoke fluent English and does not discriminate me as a foreigner. All those fears and concerns were only in my head. What a waste of time! Do not let fear petrified you. Register your company as soon as possible.

In the following 4 steps, I will guide you through the process of registering your eenmanszaak at KVK, so you won’t be scared by the unknown like I was back then.

These are the bureaucratic info you need for logging into the subscribing system. You should have these numbers if you are a student or any person who holds a valid resident permit. As you can see, being an international student in the Netherlands gives you an advantage to start your entrepreneurship in the EU. I have elaborated more on this topic in this article 2 Reasons You Should Start a Company while Studying in the Netherlands.

Once you have your DigiD and BSN number, we can go to the registration page for an eennmanszaak.

1. To get to the subscription page, google search“ inschrijven eenmanszaak KVK”

Click the second link in the search result “Inschrijven eenmanszaak bij KVK-kantoor” or click this hyperlink I made for you. The Dutch keywords mean “Register, One-person company, Chamber of Commerce”.

2. Click the purple button “Inloggen met DigiD” to log into the registration form.

You need your DigiD login information or BSN number in this step.

3. Fill in the registration form in Dutch

Don’t let the Dutch language scare you! Almost all the questions are multiple choice questions, besides one part in which you need to fill in a short description of your company’s activities.

You can use Google Translate to translate your answers to Dutch. It worked for me. The KVK staff member will crosscheck the form with your at your appointment, and they will discuss the form with you (in friendly English) before finalizing in their system. So don’t worry about your Dutch. Just Google translate your answers when you need to.

There should be an English version of the form, at least I had one back then before they fully digitalized it. If you can only see the Dutch form, you can use Google translate to read through the questions. The translation should be good enough to get your through the form.

4. Make an appointment at KVK

Select a date and time for your appointment at the KVK office of your province. You will need to pay 50 euros at the appointment, and they only accept card payment. Bring your residence permit and passport.

Arrive on time! Dutch people are very punctual (not extremely like the Germans, but). They have an idiom saying afspraak is afspraak (an appointment is an appointment), which means if you make a deal or an appointment, you have to deliver accordingly. So be on time!

Once you pay the 50 euros, you will get your KVK number right on the spot. Your BTW number (VAT, Value Added Tax number) will arrive later in a mail. I will cover this BTW number in a later article. BTW tax is a very important administration errand you need to pay attention to, otherwise you might get a 5,000 euros (but could be reduced to 0 euros) fine like I did.

Congratulations! You can kick off your business in the Netherlands and the European Union. Additionally, you have obtained your first gadget to applying for a startup visa.

In the article next week, I will start covering the topics about the facilitators, i.e. startup incubators & accelerators, because their declaration is the second document you need for your startup visa application. I will explain what is a startup incubator/accelerator, what they can help you with your business, and how to pitch your business to them.

Follow me on Medium or LinkedIn to make sure you will see the articles when they are published. For specific questions, you can message me through the contact form on my company website workshop. I am very curious about your ventures and the challenges you are facing as a founder in the Netherlands (and around the world!). It might be something I have dealt with and I will be happy to help a fellow founder.

Author profile

Jon Jieh-hen Tsung is part of the ACE alumni network.

“I quit medical research to become a scientific illustrator. Accidentally started a biomedical communication startup in the Amsterdam and loving the venture ScienceVisionary. More stories can be found on my YouTube channel.”

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