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Dutch legal business structures

What issues should I consider in order to set up and develop a business?

What are the fundamental requirements that I will need to comply with in starting a business?

The Chamber of Commerce (KVK) has created a guide in English to help you starting your own business. Below we have summarised the most relevant information. is a recently launched website initiative, providing answers to the many questions related to starting a business in the Netherlands. They also have several online webinars which can be watched for added information:

 The Citizen Service Number

You need to have a Citizen Service Number (BSN) issued by the municipality in which you reside. The BSN is used by all public organisations in your dealings with them.

Business plan

Providing a business plan is one of the prescribed criteria for entrepreneurs who are not EU, EEA and Swiss nationals and wish to begin their own business in The Netherlands.

The starting point should be a clear idea of your goals, targets and expected clients. According to typical advice, the main issues that need to be addressed are:

  • which legal form best suits the enterprise
  • which products or services will you offer– DO’s and DON’Ts
  • who will be your clients
  • promotional activities to get contracts;
  • how to optimize visibility toy our target group
  • prices and fees
  • financial plan (available budgets, expected turnover, investments)
  • which insurances do you need
  • permits and/or licenses required
  • form of administrational
  • what should be included in your General Terms and Conditions – if applicable?

Company Name

Choosing a good company name for your company is very important but not easy. A few tips:

  • Your business name should fit you and your company, now, but also in the future.
  • It is best if the company name is short, to the point, easy to remember and to search on the internet.
  • Make sure that your company name is unique and does not already exist as brand or domain name. Check in the Commercial Register. (You will find a tool in the KvK link below, Dutch only)
  • Be alert to cultural sensitivity and inappropriate or silly words in Dutch. Think about how the name sounds in English and other languages should you ever consider taking your business abroad.

Find out more about how to choose a business name on the KvK’s website:

 Legal Form

Entrepreneurs in the Netherlands have to choose a legal form for their business. That applies also to self-employed professionals and freelancers. The choice will determine, for example, liability and tax obligations.

 Types of legal forms

There are legal forms with and without corporate (legal) personality. An important difference is that forms without corporate (legal) personality involve debt liability for both the company assets and your private assets. For legal entities liability is tied solely to company assets. Visit the question different types of legal forms to get more detailed information on this topic.

How can I choose the legal form or business structure for my company?

Are there any entities that can give support for starting a business?

How do I terminate/dissolve my company?

What are the steps to start my own business in the Netherlands?