Prerequsites for starting a business

As a foreigner, am I entitled to start a business in the Netherlands?

Can I renew a residence permit for entrepreneurs?

A residence permit for entrepreneurs is valid for two years. Renewal is straightforward, provided you meet the initial conditions, and:

  • your business is still active
  • you still earn sufficient income
  • your personal situation did not change
  • you did not apply for unemployment benefits
  • you were not charged with any violation of the law

With this residence permit you are exclusively allowed to work for your own enterprise. If you take up any other form of work/employment, you need to apply for a separate work permit (TWV tewerkstellingsvergunning)

In some cases there will be an additional proof requirement:

Director or major shareholder

To be deemed as self-employed when acting as director or a major shareholder of a company, you must additionally prove you have at least 25 percent interest in the company, be liable for risks and be able to influence the level of your income. If this is not the case, your relationship with the company would be considered as an ’employee’ and you would be required to obtain a work permit for employees.


If you are applying to work as a freelancer you must additionally prove that at the time of application you have one or more work assignments in the Netherlands that you, as a freelancer, are going to carry out. For an explanation of what is considered a freelancer see

Healthcare practitioners

If you intend to provide healthcare services you are subject to regulation by the Individual Healthcare Professions Act (BIG) and must be included in the BIG register. With this registration a healthcare provider with a foreign diploma may operate in the Netherlands as a self-employed person.


What are the general residence requirements for entrepreneurs?