Volunteering in the Netherlands
What is the currency in the Netherlands?
The monetary currency of the Netherlands is the euro, and Eurozone countries share the same euro bank notes and coins. There are seven bank note denominations (5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 200 and 500 euros) and eight coins denominations (1 and 2 euros and 1, 2, 5, 10, 20 and 50 euro-cents). In the Netherlands, very few establishments will accept the 500 euro note and most small shops including supermarkets will not accept 100 and 200 euro notes and coins of 1 and 2 cents notes either. If you pay cash, the amount will be rounded off to the nearest 5 cents, e.g. €10.13 will become €10.15 while €10.12 will become €10.10. If you pay with your bank card you will pay the exact amount.
Which process should I follow when buying a house?
Buying a property in the Netherlands is relatively straightforward but there are some steps you need to take.
Finding a makelaar (real estate agent)
Buying a property without a makelaar is legal but not advisable. In the Netherlands you can work with only one makelaar, unlike other countries. When house hunting, submit a list of the characteristics you are looking for in a house to your makelaar. This enables your makelaar to make a selection of interesting properties for you to visit. To make sure that you get proper help, contact a makelaar who is experienced at buying houses for expats.
The makelaar can help you from the beginning to the end of the house hunting process, including the technical inspection, the negotiations, the understanding of the bidding system along with the administrative work that comes with buying a house.
When does the 30% ruling end?
The end date of the 30% ruling is stated in the documented decision issued to you and is usually up to a maximum period of five years. If you decide to leave your employer’s organisation before the end date, then the allowance ends on your last day of work. Your employer is not allowed to apply the 30% facility to income that you receive after your last working day.
Can you explain the numbering conventions used in the Netherlands?
The Dutch method of punctuating numbers and decimals is exactly opposite to the English system. Therefore, for example, twenty-five euros and fifty euro-cents would be written as €25,50 and five thousand two hundred euros would be shown as €5.200. Round figures are written with a comma and a dash after the number: e.g.15 euros is €15,-.
What other costs should I consider before buying a house in Netherlands?
When you buy a house, you have to pay the overdrachtsbelasting (property transfer tax) which is calculated based on a fixed percentage of the sale price agreed with the seller. No overdrachtsbelasting has to be paid if you get (part of) a house through divorce, marriage or inheritance. Currently (2021) the overdrachtsbelasting (transfer tax) is 2%.
What about my savings and investments? Do I have to transfer them to the Netherlands?
You can leave your savings and investments in your home country, but you have to inform the Dutch tax authorities about them when filling in your tax form. A holiday house or second dwelling in your home country will have to be declared too, but normally a double taxation deduction can be requested.
How can I open a bank account?
To manage your day-to-day finances, you will need a current or payment account called a betaalrekening in Dutch. Before opening a bank account, you need to be a legal resident of the Netherlands. You should register yourself with the municipality where you reside to make your stay legal (please have a look at our ‘First three months in the Netherlands‘ https://access-nl.org/relocating-to-netherlands/first-three-months/formalities/ for more information). As soon as you have completed your registration and have been given your burgerservicenummer – BSN (citizen service number), you can go to any bank of your choice to open a bank account.
The major retail banks in the Netherlands having their websites in English are ABN AMRO and ING Bank (limited information in English). Others in Dutch are Rabobank and SNS.
Is it compulsory to have a written contract to buy a house or is a verbal agreement binding as well in the Netherlands?
When buying, a verbal contract is no longer binding (contrary to rental agreements). A purchase agreement will need to be drawn up. After signing, you have three working days to change your mind and you also get a couple of weeks to obtain a mortgage from a bank.
What is the 30% ruling and when do I qualify for this?
This is a tax allowance incentive for employees recruited from abroad who bring specific skills to the Netherlands. It acknowledges that additional expenses are incurred by expats (extraterritorial costs) in settling into a new country.
You can find an overview of the 30% ruling here .
We suggest to ask your tax advisor for information related to your situation.
What are the requirements to open up a bank account?
You are advised to check with the local branch of your chosen bank for their specific requirements. The usual requirements are:
- proof of identity (passport or identity card)
- official proof of address, such as a tenancy agreement
- your burgerservicenummer – BSN (citizen service number).
- proof of your income, unless you are only opening a spaarrekening (savings account). Your contract of employment or three consecutive pay slips will be accepted by most banks as proof.
A valid phone number (preferably a Dutch number) for communication purposes if you are staying for more than four months. As a new client, the bank may wish to check your credit history. Hence, the bank may instigate a credit check and register you with the Bureau Krediet Registratie – BKR (Central Credit Registration Agency).
I have made an offer and signed a ‘contract of sale’ for a house. Can I still withdraw the offer?
Yes, there is a lawful period which is valid for three working days. During this period, you are legally allowed to turn down the property.
It is also standard to have a clause that allows you to pull out in case you cannot secure a mortgage. Always check if this clause is in your contract. In case you are unable to get a mortgage, you need to provide proof of this from two different banks; otherwise you face financial liabilities up to 10% of the deposit.
Do I need to pay taxes if I bring my own vehicle to the Netherlands?
If you are not a Dutch resident, you may use your car, motorcycle, caravan or trailer in the Netherlands for up to three months without paying tax. If you want to use your car, motorcycle, caravan or trailer in the Netherlands for longer than three months, you must register your vehicle with the RDW (Dutch Road Transport Directorate) and submit a private motor vehicle and a bpm motorcycle tax declaration. Depending on your circumstances, you may be liable to pay belasting van personenauto’s en motorrijwielen – bpm (private motor vehicle and motorcycle tax) and its CO2 emissions efficiency.
What are the accounts and services offered by banks?
The types of accounts offered are:
- Betaalrekening (current account)
- Spaarrekening (savings account)
- Vreemde valuta rekening (foreign currency account)
Other services that banks may offer include:
- debit (PIN) and credit cards
- internet banking (internetbankieren), also on your phone
- investments (beleggingen)
- private banking (requirements can differ per bank)
- insurance (verzekering)
- loans (leningen)
- mortgages (hypotheken)
- fixed-term deposits (spaardeposito’s)
- life insurance (levensverzekering)
I am considering buying an apartment. I have heard that I will become a member of a VvE (Vereniging van Eigenaren, Association of Owners). Can you explain what this is and what they do?
A Vereniging van Eigenaren – VvE (association of owners) is responsible for, and makes decisions about, the common parts of a building and the ground that belongs to it. Their work consists mainly of making decisions about maintenance and use of these common areas. For apartments, it is law nowadays to have a VvE. The fire insurance for the building is always arranged through the VvE. The details of the property and the obligations towards it will be registered in your purchase contract.
What is the bpm?
If you buy a passenger car, motorcycle or delivery van in the Netherlands, or bring it to the Netherlands from abroad, you are liable to pay various taxes. One of these taxes is known as belasting van personenauto’s en motorrijwielen – bmp (private motor vehicle and motorcycle). If you buy a vehicle from a main dealer or importer, then bmp will usually already have been included in the purchase price for the vehicle.
If you bring your own vehicle to the Netherlands (importing it), you will be required to make a declaration and pay tax which is calculated on the value of the vehicle, its CO2 efficiency rating and the type of fuel that it uses. You may also be liable to pay customs duty and BTW (VAT), depending on how long you have owned the vehicle. You can gain an exemption from paying the bpm if you have lived in another country for at least one year and can prove that you have had the car in your possession for at least six months prior to moving to the Netherlands.
Please note that if you import your own vehicle, you cannot sell it within twelve months from the date of registration. If you do so, you will have to pay the tax which was exempted at the time you imported this car.
How does a current account operate?
The betaalrekening (current account) is used for day-to-day banking activities, such as depositing or withdrawing money. Your salary is normally paid by your employer via electronic transfer into your current account. You can also use this account for paying for goods and services by direct debit or bank transfer. You normally do not earn any interest on a current account; however, most banks will charge a fee for its administration.
The current account operates from the day it is opened. After opening a current account, the bank will normally provide you with a debit card (PIN card) and an electronic identifier for use with secure internetbankieren (internet banking).
When your debit card is ready for collection, the bank will either send it to you by post or notify you when it is ready. For the latter, you will have to go to the banking personnel, presenting your passport or other acceptable identification document. Your PIN (Personal Identification Number) code will be sent to you separately by post. This is a personal four-digit number needed to access your bank account using the electronic identifier for internet banking, to check your balance and withdraw cash from a pinautomaat (bank cash machine or ATM) or to pay using your card for goods and services in shops and restaurants. The bank will expect you to memorise your PIN number, which must not be divulged to any other person. If you find it hard to remember your PIN number, you can change it at your bank’s cash machine.
What does a notary do in the Netherlands?
Notaries occupy a special place in the world of legal professionals in the Netherlands, alongside advocaten (attorneys-at-law), deurwaarders (bailiffs) and belastingconsulenten (tax advisors). Notaries are authorised to draw up deeds, especially concerning: family law, property law and corporate law
Under the Dutch legal system, a notaris (notary) is required to weigh up and balance the interests of all the parties to a legal transaction. A notary is independent of all parties. For example, when a property is transferred, a notaris acts for both the seller and the buyer.
What taxes will I have to pay in the Netherlands?
The various forms of direct taxation (for the individual) are:
This tax is deducted from your salary at the source and is also applied to other forms of earnings that you must declare. Income tax is a ‘tiered’ tax in that the percentage of tax taken relates to the size of your salary and is taken in steps. You can find the latest information on the belastingdienst (tax office) website.
You must pay inheritance tax if you are have inherited more than the exemption amount. The amount of money that you can inherit before having to pay tax is dependent upon your relationship with the deceased. In certain situations, you may not have to pay any inheritance tax.
You will be liable to pay tax on a gift you receive, if the value of the gift is over a certain amount in any one tax year.
If you buy a house or other property, then you usually have to pay transfer tax. The transfer tax applies if you are the legal or beneficial owner of: property, rights in real estate, shares in immovable bodies (i.e. buildings).
It should be noted that your personal situation (non-working partner for example), type of work, residency status and other assets and earnings (particularly from abroad) will affect your position with respect to what taxes you must pay.
What legal services does a notary provide?
Apart from providing legal advice, a notaris (notary) also records agreements, either because the law requires it or it is in the parties’ request. The formal deed drawn up by a notary constitutes definite proof that the date and the parties’ signatures are correct. A notary is required to retain the original deeds and to issue the parties with certified copies.
The law requires a deed for a number of agreements and legal transactions such as transferring a property in the Netherlands and creating or cancelling mortgages. Normally, the procedures involved are as follows:
Lawful period to ‘think over’
This is known in the Netherlands as wettelijke bedenktijd. Through this act, a verbal agreement should be written down in a voorlopige koopakte (provisional purchase deed). This is valid for three working days so that the buyer can change her/his mind. During this period, you are legally allowed to turn down a property, and you can hire experts to inspect the property. Ask your agent for further details.
Agreement of sale
Once the deal has been made, the selling agent will draw up a koopakte (purchase deed) and will invite you to sign the purchase deed. Ensure that you have thoroughly and carefully read through the purchase deal. Do make sure that all the agreements are mentioned in the purchase deed before you sign. Only in Amsterdam is the notary involved in this part of the process and can help you with legal advice on judicial questions and terms of sales, etc. In the rest of the Netherlands the selling and purchase agent will do this part together with their clients.
Once all the parties involved have signed the deal, the notary will organise the transfer. He or she will draw up the akte van levering (the terms of delivery) for the handover. He or she will also help with the hypotheekakte (deed of terms and conditions of mortgage). The buyer is free to choose his or her own notary. The purchase deed includes a penalty clause in case any of the parties do not comply with its terms.
It is advisable to discuss the marital situation or registered partnership with the notary; it may have legal consequences while selling the property. A marriage or registered partnership in ‘general community of property’ means that all the property and debts of each partner are shared. The same holds true if you have an official cohabitation agreement older than five years, unless you have a notarised statement indicating otherwise (i.e. a prenuptial agreement or similar).
Once both the parties have signed the deed of purchase, the deal is closed and the property is technically yours. A verbal agreement is not binding. An important clause in the purchase deed is that the deed can be cancelled if the buyer cannot obtain the necessary finances – the financial clause. This financial clause has an expiration date normally after five weeks; within that period the mortgage has to be finalized. Between the provisional and the final purchase deed, which is usually on the day you get the key to the house, all details referring to the mortgage are finalised. Your mortgage provider will request an appraisal report (by an independent real estate agent) for assessing the value of the mortgage in relation to the value of the property.
The notary will register all deeds at the kadaster (land registry). This includes the leveringsakte (deed of conveyance) and the hypotheekakte (mortgage deed). All necessary papers will be drawn up by the notary, such as a deed of transfer. He or she will check all these papers for you.
Deposit or prepayment
A waarborgsom (deposit) of 10% of the purchase price or more has to be transferred by the buyer to the notary after the sale agreement has been made. In the meantime, it is wise to get a home inspection done by a technical expert. The deposit is made by the buyer to the account of the notary. A bank guarantee is also accepted as an alternative to a deposit. Before the final payment you can ask your agent to note down the meter readings and check the house to be sure that it has been vacated as agreed.
The levering or judicial transfer of ownership of the property is done by the notary on the day of the transfer mentioned in the purchase deal, and takes place at the office of the notary. The actual delivery of the property occurs when the keys are handed over.
How do I use my bank PIN card?
When you open an account with the bank, they will give you options regarding types of bank cards. The basic debit card (bankpas, betaalpas or pinpas) is used for withdrawing cash and for paying for goods and services in shops and restaurants. At the kassa (check-out points) in most shops in the Netherlands you will see a small numeric keypad. To pay with your debit card, insert the card and enter your PIN code (Personal Identification Number). The amount that you have spent will be debited from your account immediately. When making payments of €25 or less, you can simply hold the card against the reader to pay – rather than inserting a card into the chip and PIN machine and entering a PIN code. In just a few seconds, the payment will be completed and the lights on the reader will illuminate, confirming that the transaction has been approved. For higher amounts you can also use the contactless payment feature, but you will have to enter your pin code.
You can also use the PIN card at a bank cash machine. The withdrawal limit may be lower if the cash machine is not from your own bank and you may incur a service charge. Your PIN card and PIN code are also needed to operate your internetbankieren (internet banking) login device.
Are the costs for giving birth covered by my Dutch health insurance?
In most cases the costs for giving birth are covered by the Dutch health insurance. However, you will have to pay the costs yourself if you decide to give birth in a hospital or birth centre without a medical necessity for doing so. Sometimes the additional insurance covers some of the costs. Please check with your insurance about what is covered.
What types of indirect taxes are there in the Netherlands?
On top of the direct taxation for individuals, there are also various indirect taxes charged by the Dutch government. Below are some of the main taxes which are likely to affect you:
- Tax on the value of goods and services sold to you that is Btw-belasting toegevoegde waarde (VAT). This is levied at either 9% or 21% depending on the nature of the goods or services
- Excise duty is levied on goods which contain alcohol, tobacco or on fuels such as petrol, diesel or Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG)
- Consumer tax is applied to some alcohol-free drinks, for example: fruit juices and vegetable juices, mineral water and beverages such as lemonade
- Taxes on purchasing or importing private cars and motorcycles whilst living in the Netherlands
What if I want to use my PIN card abroad?
Most banks allow you to use your debit (PIN) card whilst travelling in Europe. However, there is a block to use your card outside of Europe. This action is intended to prevent fraudulent activity. If you wish to use your debit (PIN) card to access cash or make payments whilst travelling to a country outside of Europe, you can change this setting to world. Alternatively, you can use your credit card to pay for goods or services whilst abroad. Normally there is no restriction on where you can use your credit card (as long as the seller accepts credit cards as a method of payment). Please note that you may be charged a fee for withdrawing money from a cash machine abroad using your credit card.
How much do I pay for a notary service?
Notaries are free to set their own fees. The fees are based upon tariffs or rates, (which vary depending on the sale price of the property and on the amount of the financial loan) and it is sometimes possible to negotiate the notary fees and the percentage charged by the notary. It is advisable to contact more than one notary, in order to compare fees.
I am an international employer. How can I arrange a pension plan for employees who often move from one country to another?
Almost all pensions are based on the system in a particular country. This is also true for the Netherlands. There are several ways to arrange a pension yourself, e.g. if you are self employed but when you leave the Netherlands it is not sure if you can continue with it. For example, a lifetime annuity (lijfrente) is generally considered as an option but getting it paid outside the Netherlands is very difficult due to regulations.
For international employers there are options to arrange an international pension plan. Companies offering this are usually international banks and insurance agencies. Examples are Swiss Life https://www.swisslife-global.com/corporate/solutions/expats.html, TMF Group https://www.tmf-group.com/en/services/family-wealth/executive-pensions-and-compensation/and Mercer https://www.mercer.com/what-we-do/wealth-and-investments/defined-benefit-pension-plans.html. These pensions can be called international pensions, mobile pensions or offshore pensions.
What dates does the tax year cover in the Netherlands and when do I need to provide a tax return?
The tax year in the Netherlands runs from 1 January to 31 December inclusive. You are normally required to complete and submit your belastingaangifte (tax return) before 1 May following the end of the tax year.
What factors should I take into account before buying a house or apartment?
A very important factor when buying a property is that you are clearly aware of the property’s legal standing. This means that you need to check whether it is eigen grond (freehold) or erfpacht (leasehold) property. If your potential house is freehold, then you fully own the plot and the house. Leasehold would mean that you only own the house but not the plot (this is the case for apartments as well). This means you will be paying an annual fee for renting the plot. Your real estate agent can provide this information.
Existing houses are usually sold as ‘kosten koper (kk)’. This means that all additional costs such as overdrachtsbelasting (property transfer tax) and notariskosten (notary costs) must be paid by the buyer.
New houses are usually sold as ‘vrij op naam (V.O.N.)’. This means that the purchase price includes BTW (VAT), property transfer tax and notary costs.
Bouwtechnisch onderzoek (construction inspection)
It is strongly advised to ask an expert for a bouwkundig onderzoek (construction inspection). This person will check things such as:
- crawl space (if accessible) and floors, drainage, ventilation, piping in crawl space
- state of the facades, roof, chimneys, window frames, gutters, roof, and chimneys
- determination of the presence of lead pipes and risk carbon monoxide
- fire safety and asbestos suspected.
The real estate agent who sells the house often recommends someone to do this. However, this person may not be independent. Therefore it is best to ask your own real estate agent for an expert. If you don’t have a real estate agent it may be useful to ask advice from the Vereniging Eigen Huis https://www.eigenhuis.nl/#/ (Dutch only). This is an interest group for home owners
Things to consider when buying a house or apartment
When buying a house or apartment, take the following things into consideration:
- Research appropriate neighbourhoods considering: housing prices, access to public transportation, green spaces, distance/time to your work, location of schools
- View properties during the day then again in the evening to notice any potential problems and have a sense of the area
- Limit your viewings each day
- Be sure to take photos and jot down notes
- Ask questions and strike up conversations with the estate agent, the seller and people in the area
- Take into account your estate agent’s advice
- Inquire about: who owns the property, how long it has been on the market, how many viewings there have been, how many bids have been made, why it is for sale, and how quickly it needs to be sold
- If possible, do not get into a bidding war and avoid sealed bid offers
What happens with my money if my bank goes bankrupt?
If your bank goes bankrupt or runs into trouble, you will not lose all your money. This is because there is a guarantee system in place to help account holders: the Deposit Guarantee Scheme .
All banks holding a banking authorisation granted by De Nederlandsche Bank (DNB) are covered by the Deposit Guarantee Scheme. Your money is safe with a maximum of €100,000 per person and per bank. In general this only applies to your current account and your savings account. Investments are usually not covered. Please contact your bank for more information which accounts are covered.
If your bank has its main office in another country, the rules of that country apply when it comes to a Deposit Guarantee Scheme. It is important to check if your bank has a Dutch licence or a licence from another country. You can find an overview of all banks covered by the Dutch Deposit Guarantee Scheme on https://www.dnb.nl/en/supervision/public-register/WFTDG/index.jsp
My employer doesn’t offer any pensions. How can I arrange a pension myself?
Yes, you can do so. However, if you arrange something in the Netherlands, such as a lifetime annuity, it may cause problems getting the money when you have left the Netherlands. Therefore, it is important to get in touch with a financial advisor who is familiar with problems expats may have.
How can I get help with my tax return?
In the first instance, especially if you are unfamiliar with the Dutch tax system and your ability to speak Dutch is limited, it may be advisable to employ a Dutch tax consultant who will be able to submit the tax return for you.
You can contact the ACCESS Helpdesk if you require help in locating a tax consultant in your area.
If you have any specific questions, you can also call the Belastingdienst (Tax Office) information line for residents on (055) 538 5385 or on +31 (0) 55 538 5385 if calling from outside the Netherlands. You may need to give your burgerservicenummer – BSN (citizen service number) when calling.
You can also visit your local Tax Office. However, this can only be done by making an appointment and usually requires you to contact them via telephone first. The location of your tax office can be found on: www.belastingdienst.nl/rekenhulpen/gvk.
What costs are involved in buying a house or apartment?
It pays to visit a bank or mortgage broker for free advice before you start considering buying property to get an idea of the total costs involved. In general, about 10% of the purchase price will be needed on top to pay for various taxes and fees:
- Hypotheekkosten (mortgage fee): around 1%
- Taxatierapporten (valuation/appraisal costs): if a mortgage is needed. Costs between 300-1,000 euros
- Makelaarkosten (real estate agent fees): not always involved but if it applies, costs vary between 1-2 percent of the price of the property
- Notariskosten: the notaris (notary) is needed to register the sale and the mortgage. It is usually between 1,000-3,000 euros
Note that the deposit on the property is 10% of the purchase price, paid six weeks after the purchase agreement has been signed. This may be replaced by a bank guarantee issued by a Dutch bank.
What is iDeal?
iDEAL offers the possibility to make online payments in a reliable, secure and easy way. Payments can be made by using the mobile banking app or the online banking environment of your own bank. iDEAL is a direct online transfer from your bank account to the bank account of a company.
Will I be entitled to Dutch state pension (AOW) when I retire?
If you live in the Netherlands at the time you retire, you are entitled to AOW. As you haven’t lived in the Netherlands all the time you will receive a reduced AOW. If you don’t live in the Netherlands any more when you retire, you may be entitled to AOW if you live in a country that has a treaty with the Netherlands regarding social security. You can check what the regulations are for the country you are living in on https://https://www.svb.nl/en/aow-pension/claiming-an-aow-pension-if-you-live-outside-the-netherlands/deductions-from-your-aow-pension-if-you-live-outside-the-netherlands.
How do I know if I must pay income tax?
If you have demonstrable ties to the Netherlands (for instance, you live here, you work here, and your family is based here), you are generally regarded as a ‘resident taxpayer’ from day one and therefore must pay inkomstenbelasting (income tax). If you live abroad but receive income that is taxable in the Netherlands, you are generally a ‘non-resident taxpayer’. Non-residents can also apply to be treated as residents for tax purposes (in order to gain access to the Dutch deductible items). An additional category of partial non-resident taxpayers covers those eligible for the so-called ‘30% ruling‘.
As a resident taxpayer, you are taxed on your income earned both in the Netherlands and abroad. Hence, you should always investigate if the Netherlands has a tax treaty with the country where you may be gaining an income to avoid double taxation, that is, being liable for tax on the same income or capital from more than one country.
You are normally required to submit an belastingaangifte (tax return) if you receive a declaration letter or form from the Dutch Tax Office. However, also in the situation that you do not receive a notification from the tax office and tax would be due, you are liable to submit a tax return. Even if not requested to do so, it may be advantageous to do a tax return as a refund may apply, for example if you can make use of some tax deductions.
Can I pay in a shop by using my mobile phone?
Several banks offer the function to pay in shops using your smartphone. The systems used for these mobile payments require a special app that serves as a wallet. This is usually linked to your bank account, which allows your phone to serve as a debit card.
How do I submit my tax return?
You can get a paper tax form sent to you by contacting the Belastingdienst (Tax authorities) information line for residents on (055) 538 53 85 or on 0031 55 538 5385 if calling from outside the Netherlands. Alternatively, you can download the form from the Belastingdienst (Tax authorities) website on www.belastingdienst.nl.
To file a return, you will need to use the online DigiD service. DigiD (pronounced ‘didjidee’) stands for digital identity. It is a system shared by government agencies that they can use to verify your identity. You can find more information here.
If you find the whole process of providing a tax return too challenging, you can pay for a Dutch tax consultant to complete and return your tax declaration on your behalf.
Particularly in the year of arrival and the year of departure, filing a tax return may result in a substantial rebate. Tax returns can be completed retrospectively for a period of five years.
What is PSD2?
The Payment Services Directive (PSD) regulates payment services in the European Economic Area (EEA). Originally introduced in 2007, the revised version that came into force in 2019 is known as PSD2.
The most important changes for consumers are:
- Webshops are allowed to charge additional costs for the payments, but only the costs that the webshop has to make for that payment. An exception has been made for credit cards. In addition it is allowed to charge extra costs to discourage use of inefficient payment methods.
- Access to your banking account by third parties. The bank must give third parties access to your bank account under the condition that you have given permission for that. This third party must have permission from the Dutch banking authority (De Nederlandse Bank) or a banking authority from another EU country. An example of this is a party that offers digital expenditure books. Such a company has direct access to all your banking accounts, even if you have accounts with several banks (if you give this company permission to have access to all your bank accounts). In such a way you can get a complete overview of your income and expenses.
How is my income assessed?
The types of income are treated differently for tax purposes on the tax return and categorised on the tax return into one of three boxes:
Box 1 – Income from business profits, employment and home ownership
This includes wages, pensions, social benefits, benefits provided by the employer (such as the provision of a company car) and earnings from renting out a house.
Box 2 – Income from substantial shareholding of a company
You must hold at least 5% of the company’s shares.
Box 3 – Taxable income from savings and investments, e.g. interest earned and dividend payments
The amount of tax payable is calculated by applying the various tax rates to the various taxable incomes in the boxes. The amount calculated is then reduced by one or more tax credits. For more information click here.
How to exchange foreign money in the Netherlands?
The wisselkoers (exchange rate) is fixed every day and will be posted wherever you exchange money. The rate does not vary from one company to the next, although the charge for exchanging money may differ. The most common place to exchange money is at GWK Travelex offices which can be found in all the major cities throughout the Netherlands (as well as Schiphol Airport). It is not possible to exchange foreign money at banks any more, as most branches do not handle cash other than to replenish their cash machines.
Can I claim any tax benefits against my declared income?
Everyone is entitled to a general tax credit. However, the amount that you will be entitled to is dependent upon your age. It should be noted that there is a larger decrease in general tax credit entitlement for those who are at the top income tax tier.
You may be entitled to other credits which will either be part of the income tax assessment or come under social security. In general, people who are not covered by the Dutch social security system are not entitled to the social security section of the tax credit. Examples of tax credits are:
- Salary/wage from employment
- Work bonus
- Income-related combination tax
- Single parent tax credit
- Parental discount
- Tax credits for AOW (state pension) beneficiaries
- Temporary tax credit for early retirees
- Young disabled discount
- Discount for green investments
Your employer will take the general tax credit into account when deducting wage withholding tax but not any other personal circumstances. You can claim other allowances and potential refunds when you file your tax return or request a provisional refund.
Where possible, partners are taxed individually but, when only one partner works, the other partner is generally entitled to a refund of general tax credit and deductible expenditure can be apportioned to take advantage of tax credits.
Details of income tax deductions and entitlements are provided (in Dutch only) on the Belastingdienst (Tax authorities) on Belastingdienst.nl and general information on taxes can be found on government.nl/topics/income-tax/types-of-income-tax.
We would always recommend that you seek professional advice to get the appropriate guidance depending on your personal situation. If you need a list of tax and financial advisors in your area, please contact the ACCESS Helpdesk here or check the Partner page.
What is an acceptgiro?
Acceptgiro’s (transaction forms) are a widely-accepted method of payment in the Netherlands and have been used by businesses and domestic users for decade. It is based on a paper acceptgiro form, which is made available by a creditor (usually a business), but nowadays it can be used for online banking too.
Bills are generally paid by bank transfer. You receive an invoice and an acceptgiro form from the company concerned, sometimes with the payment details already filled in. You add your signature and fill in the number of your bank account and mail the form back to your bank. You can also drop your acceptgiro directly in the dedicated letterbox at the bank. Most people are now using it via internet banking.
Do I need to file my tax return even if I stay for short time?
As a general rule you must file your tax return if you receive an invitation from the Belastingdienst (Tax authorities). Therefore, it is not obligatory if you have been registered in the Netherlands only part of the fiscal year (1 January to 31 December inclusive).
The most common form to use is the ‘M form’ for those who arrived in the Netherlands and became a resident during the year. This cannot be filed in electronically with your DigiD. Therefore, if you did not receive an invitation but you still want to file your tax return, you will have to request to the Tax authorities to post it to you. More general information on the Dutch income tax system for non-residents is available on Belastingdienst.nl. The non-residential information pages are provided in both English and German.
Can I directly invest money in the stock exchange?
If you wish to make an investment, you will have to open a separate investment account. Your bank will normally offer you three different approaches. If you are experienced in making investments, you can simply instruct the bank to buy stocks and shares for you. Alternatively, you can ask the bank for advice before making any investment or you can let the bank make decisions regarding what investments to make on your behalf. This third option is called vermogensbeheer (managed portfolio fund). You will usually be given a choice of various types of managed fund, depending upon how much risk you are willing to take on your initial investment. Needless to say, the higher risk funds may yield larger returns, but normally require a commitment for considerable time (more than 10 years). Depending on the bank, you can directly purchase shares on the Nederlandse effectenbeurzen (Dutch stock exchange) as well as from some overseas markets. Managed funds will typically be managed by the bank’s own fund managers (and include investments in liquid assets, bonds, real estate and shares). The bank will charge a fee for administering your investment portfolio.
Can I have the 30% ruling if I start my own business?
If you are working for an employer under the 30 per cent ruling, you can continue to make use of the 30 per cent ruling if you start your own business in The Netherlands.
One of the requirements is that you, as an entrepreneur you are employed by your own private limited liability company (BV), that is, that you are on the payroll of your company. It is important that the company is a legal entity paying taxes in the Netherlands. It is advised to consult an expert in this.
For more information on the conditions please see:
Can you give me an overview of the Dutch tax system?
For those new to the Netherlands, the Dutch tax system can seem complicated. It is not helped by the fact that much of the online government information on tax is only provided in Dutch (the English pages are intended for non-resident taxpayers).
The Netherlands is a socially aware country and you can expect to pay a substantial proportion (up to 52%) of your salary in taxes. There are many other forms of direct and indirect taxation levied by the Dutch Government to raise revenue.
Direct taxation is applied to both individuals (who are either living, working or obtaining income in the Netherlands) and to commercial organisations.
What types of loans are available?
A wide range of loan facilities is offered by the Dutch banks. Personal loans (usually for a fixed term and a fixed interest rate during the term of the loan), overdraft facilities and credit loans (the ability to withdraw as much as you need and repay in full whenever you can afford to do so) are typical. They offer varying degrees of flexibility, but it is better to discuss your requirements in detail with your bank before deciding which type of loan will suit you best. Insurance to protect your repayments is available should you become unable to pay due to disability, unemployment, etc. Generally, anyone between the ages of 18 and 65 years who is a resident in the Netherlands and in possession of a residence permit (where applicable) and has proof of a regular income is eligible for a loan. All loan applications are also checked and registered with the Bureau Krediet Registratie – BKR (Central Credit Registration Agency). The loans must be fully repaid before leaving the Netherlands.
Can I apply for a start-up permit if I currently have highly skilled migrant status in the Netherlands?
Yes, provided all other conditions are met. In principle, if the purpose of your stay changes you can apply for a different, that is new, residence permit. One condition in this regard is that they are supervised by a reliable business mentor (facilitator) in the Netherlands. Some facilitators work on commercial basis (not all), alternative is you go through the self employed person procedure: ind.nl/en/work/pages/self-employed-person.aspx
If you have a highly-skilled migrant (kennismigrant) residence permit and would like to start your own business under the start-up rule you can apply for the start-up residence permit if you fulfil the requirements for the start-up scheme.
For frequently asked questions see: ind.nl/en/Documents/FAQ_Startup.pdf
Are credit cards issued by banks to all customers?
A credit card is a separate bank card used to effectively pay for goods and services or to access cash using credit from the bank. A bank credit card usually provides customers with the benefits of protection against fraud and can be used worldwide, including for internet purchases. The credit card will have a monthly spending limit and all costs incurred must be repaid within a given time period, if interest charges are to be avoided. There is normally an annual fee charged by the bank for owning a credit card. In the Netherlands, most commercial banks have an arrangement with either MasterCard or VISA. The bank may choose to give you a credit card straight away, or after a certain period of time whilst they establish your spending patterns and that you have a regular source of income.
What are the steps to start my own business in the Netherlands?
Registration with the Dutch Chamber of Commerce (KvK Kamer van Koophandel)
Before you are allowed to start your business operations you must register your enterprise in the Dutch Trade Register at the Chambers of Commerce (KvK). Registrations in the Trade Register are public.
All entrepreneurs are required to register with the Chamber of Commerce (KvK). You qualify as an entrepreneur if you supply goods or services independently with the intention to make profit.
Self-employed without personnel (ZZP) and freelancers also have to register if their business satisfies the criteria for an enterprise. If unsure about whether you need to register your business contact the KvK.
You need to choose the legal form of your business before registering it at the KvK. A checklist of what you need to do when starting your own business is available on https://business.gov.nl/starting-your-business/checklists-for-starting-a-business/how-to-start-a-business-in-the-netherlands-a-checklist/
You should register with the Chamber of Commerce:
- No later than one week after starting your business; OR
- One week prior to starting your business; OR
- Earlier, in which case, the registration (with Chamber of Commerce registration number) will become official one week before the start of your business.
There is a registration fee that cannot be paid in cash.
You can register at the KvK by filling in an online form before you make the necessary appointment that will complete your registration procedure. At the appointment you will receive your KvK registration and VAT number. The appointment can be made online or by telephone.
In principle there is no need to register separately with the Dutch tax office (Belastigndienst) as that is automatically achieved when registering with the KvK. You will receive a VAT-number (btw-nummer) and a KvK number (identification number for legal entities and associations). If you are unsure whether the registration with the Dutch tax office has been done, we suggest you to check it with the KvK officer.
You do need to register separately with the Tax Authority (Belastingdienst) if you are starting a business as a limited company (BV) or a foundation (Stichting), because different criteria are used to establish whether you are an entrepreneur for VAT or income tax purposes.
Licences and Permits
Most businesses operate without permits or licenses, but for some, like the catering business, transport, or a taxi firm, a license is needed. If your products or business operations affect the environment an environmental permit may be required.
Permits and licenses are issued by the municipality or the provincial authorities.
Regulated professions and professional competence requirements
A diploma or permit is usually not needed for starting a business in The Netherlands. There are, however so called regulated professions and professions subjected to professional competence requirements.
A regulated profession is one you can practice only if you meet the professional qualifications established by law. The legal profession is a typical example. The list is long and can be checked here:
Professional competence requirements apply to professions, such as: personnel in healthcare and child care, architects and town planners, financial service providers, bailiffs, bus and lorry drivers, driving instructors, crew of seagoing vessels, security guards and other.
European agreements on mutual recognition of diplomas enable access to regulated professions in member states.
You can have your foreign credentials evaluated by IDW (International Credential Evaluation): www.idw.nl/en/
See comprehensive information at: business.gov.nl/regulation/professional-qualifications/
For some businesses/professions it is advisable to register at, or become member of an umbrella organisation. For example, tourism.
A tour operator will find it hard to attract customers without registration at the General Dutch Association of Travel Agencies, (ANVR), which prescribes travel and booking terms conditions, or membership of the Travel Guarantee Fund Foundation (SGR) which guarantees repayment in case of default of the tour operator. Over the years both memberships have become almost a necessity.
How easy is it to pay using my credit card in the Netherlands?
Unlike in some other countries such as the US or UK, the facility to pay by credit card in shops, supermarkets and restaurants is less widely available in the Netherlands. This is because the retailer or restaurant is charged a fee by the credit card company. Hence, the Dutch tend to use their credit cards only for internet purchases, high value purchases and whilst travelling abroad to pay for items or to withdraw cash from cash machines.
What are the general residence requirements for entrepreneurs?
To qualify for a two-year residence permit as a self-employed entrepreneur, the business should serve an essential Dutch interest.
That is assessed by the IND upon advice of The Netherlands Enterprise Agency (RVO), a part of Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs, which uses a point-based-system to grade the enterprise in three categories:
- personal experience
- business plan
- added value to The Netherlands
Each of these criteria is allotted points. With 90 points out of a possible 300, the applicant is eligible for a residence permit.
There are exemptions according to your nationality:
Long-term EU resident EC
In a number of EU Member States it is possible to obtain long-term resident EC status, a European type of permanent residence permit.
With that status you do not need to score points under the point-based system when applying for a residence permit for entrepreneurs. You do need to present evidence that your enterprise has a viable chance of success in the Netherlands, by providing:
- a business plan including: market analysis, product/service, pricing, structure of organization, financing
- proof of expected turnover: prognosis made by a registered bookkeeper/accountant over the next 3 years
- the necessary licenses to practice your profession
- copies of degrees/diplomas if applicable
- copy of the long-term resident EC permit issued by another EU Member State
The list of EU states that grant resident EC status can be found here:
Citizens of the US and Japan
They are exempt from the criteria and point system, based on inter-state treaties. They must develop and direct an enterprise in which they have made (not borrowed) an investment of at least 4.500 euros. They also need to have full control of the funds and be subject to the entrepreneurial risk.
Nationals of Turkey
Are exempt from the point system, based on a treaty with the EU. They do, however, need to submit information and evidence required by the prescribed criteria.
In order to avoid initial rejection it is necessary to be well informed and fully understand the set criteria when applying for this type of residence permit.
Further details on how the Dutch government determines whether you are an entrepreneur can be found at:
What is internetbankieren (internet banking) and how to use it?
There has been a huge growth in the use of internetbankieren (internet banking). More than 70% of bank customers use internet banking and all Dutch banks offer this facility. Internet banking provides the benefit of being accessible 24 hours a day, 7 days a week (although some banks may operate with time restrictions).
Not only the traditional banks offer internetbankieren, but there are also some banks without any physical offices that only offer banking via the Internet. Examples are Bunq and Knab. These banks are just as legal as any other Dutch bank.
Not only is internet banking easy for paying your regular monthly bills, but it offers the possibility to monitor and manage your own bank accounts. Transfers into and out of your personal or savings accounts, international transfers, and managing your investments are just a few of the many things you can do online.
In order to access your bank account details online, you will need to log in to your bank’s website using your electronic identifier provided by the bank and your debit (PIN) card. Follow the instructions which appear on the computer screen to log in.
How do I terminate/dissolve my company?
For various reasons the time may come, or you may decide to stop with your business. You may wish to close down or sell, or find yourself facing bankruptcy. It is also good to know what happens in case of your death, or succession within the family.
When closing down or selling you will need to settle your debts, follow the rules on dismissal if you have employees and you will have to file a final tax return.
- Debtors can be granted a six month statutory grace period for paying back their debt. This has to be done by the court. Keep in mind that the court doesn’t always grant this. During that time creditors cannot claim any money or confiscate any goods. If you are no longer able to pay your debts and you have an Eenmanszaak or are partner in a partnership (maatschap or vennootschap), you are personally liable for your business’s debts. You can appeal to your municipality for debt restructuring. If this fails you can appeal to a court for debt restructuring. For more information: business.gov.nl/regulation/debt-restructuring/
- If you have employees you are expected to follow dismissal procedures. There are various dismissal procedures that you should familiarize yourself with.
- Finally, you will have to file a final tax return. Settling your tax obligations may vary depending on how/why the business is being terminated, whether it is closing down, being sold, or whether it is an issue of family succession or death or divorce.
If you are closing down your business you need to report that to the Chamber of Commerce (KvK) which will pass on the information to the Belastingdienst (tax office). They will send you a written confirmation. In case you do not receive it, you need to inform them yourself.
You must also:
- close the accounts of your discontinued business
- file the annual reports and accounts up to and including the cessation date as soon as possible
- make a final calculation and submit a final VAT return
You need to send in final tax returns for all relevant taxes, such as income tax, VAT or any other type of tax. If you have built up a retirement reserve, you need to settle that with your income tax. If you withdraw goods from your business for private use, you must pay VAT on these goods.
Selling your business
If you transfer your business (or a part of your business), you must calculate the discontinuation profit (stakingswinst) and pay income tax on that amount. As well as being relevant for income tax, wage tax and VAT purposes, selling your business may also have capital gains tax consequences or affect social insurance benefits.
For further details visit the Dutch government website:
If you are no longer able to pay off your debts, then another procedure applies:
You can petition the court to be declared bankrupt. You can do that for yourself or for the company you represent. You do not need a lawyer to submit the application to the court.
If you have two or more creditors, they can file for your bankruptcy through a lawyer.
All your assets are seized in a bankruptcy. Depending on the legal form of your business, you may also be declared personally bankrupt.
If the court declares you or your company bankrupt, it will appoint an official receiver. That will be the only person allowed to administer your company from the day that you have been declared bankrupt. The receiver can sell your assets and divide the proceeds among your creditors. The receiver can decide whether you have to stop your work at once or at a later moment in time. The receiver can also give permission for certain activities you are allowed to do., for example, concern selling, concluding contracts or paying or collecting bills.
For further details visit the Dutch government website:
How can I access my bank details using mobile devices?
Most banks now provide an app which can be downloaded to your smartphone or tablet. The banking app allows you to access your bank services via the Internet, such as to check your account balance and view your transaction history, as well as conveniently make payments and look up your receipts and payments. You can also find out the status of your investments, inform yourself of the latest financial news and stock market.
Several banks even have an app to pay back small loans very quickly. Tikkie, an initiative from ABNAMRO, is the most popular one. It is a free app for iPhone and Android to send payment requests using WhatsApp or text messages. You only need a smartphone and a Dutch bank account. Recipients don’t need to have the Tikkie app installed themselves.
Can I change the legal form of my company?
Yes, although changes in the legal form have fiscal and administrative consequences. They need to be reported to the tax authorities and the Chamber of Commerce and may entail application for new municipal license.
You can find the forms related to this topic on the KvK’s website:
What if I have lost my bank card or had it stolen?
If you believe that you have lost your PIN card or had it stolen, then visit or call your bank right away. To find the telephone number to report a lost or stolen card, type on the search function of your bank’s website ‘verloren’ or ‘gestolen’. These contact numbers are usually available 24/7.
What is a contactless payment?
Contactless is a payment feature that has been introduced by banks in the Netherlands (as in other countries) on their payment cards. The aim is to make small value purchases quicker and more convenient for both retailers and consumers. The idea is that by using the contactless facility on the debit card, the customer’s payment transaction will be quicker, as no cash needs to change hands and entering a PIN (Personal Identification Number) is not required.
When making payments of €25 or less, you can simply hold the card against the reader to pay – rather than inserting a card into the chip and PIN machine and entering a PIN. In just a few seconds, the payment will be completed and the lights on the reader will illuminate, confirming that the transaction has been approved. For higher amounts you can also use the contactless payment feature, but you will have to enter your pin code.
To use this feature, you should look out for retailers who display this payment reader sign.
What is IBAN?
The IBAN code, which stands for ‘International Bank Account Number’, has been introduced to standardise the identification of bank accounts within the European Union. In the Netherlands, the IBAN reference number consists of your current bank account number preceded by the country code NL, a 2-digit control number and the (abbreviated) name of your bank. For example: NL89-BANK-0123-4567-89.
Are contactless payments secure?
Contactless cards are secured by the same advanced technology that underpins chip and PIN. Although a contactless transaction does not require a PIN to be entered, from time to time the terminal may ask that the cardholder undertake a full contact chip and PIN transaction. This is designed to deter fraudulent use should the card be lost or stolen; each time a PIN is used it re-affirms that the cardholder is in possession of their card.