Starting your own business

Independent enterprise is the backbone of the Dutch economy. There are thousands of small and medium-sized firms, the so-called "MKB-ers" (Midden en Klein bedrijf).

In the European Union and in International Organisations, such as the World Bank, the United Nations and the WTO they are called "Small and Medium Enterprises" (also SMEs, small and medium businesses, SMBs). The abbreviation SME occurs commonly.


The Netherlands recognises the contribution these entrepreneurs make to the economy and actively encourages them. The majority of new businesses are found in the Randstad area (Amsterdam, The Hague, and Rotterdam).

The Royal Association MKB-Nederland is the largest employers' organisation and tries to introduce new policies to a better socio-economic climate.

The Ministry of Economic Affairs (Ministerie van Economische Zaken) initiated action in 1996 to help small and medium-sized businesses enter the export market. It is a positive environment for smaller businesses.

However, there are regulations which have to be complied with. These are outlined in the ACCESS guide "Partner support". At the same time, you should be aware that while meeting the relevant regulations when establishing your business, the government also assists new businesses with finance, tax relief, subsidies and even loans sometimes.


General requirements

To start at the beginning, you must have entered the country legally and have a valid residence permit. This is not applicable to the European Union (EU) or the European Economic Area ("EEA") citizens.


Burgerservicenummer (BSN)

Everyone who is registered at the Gemeente (Municipality) in the GBA (Gemeentelijke Basis Administratie- municipal personal data base) has a Burgerservice nummer. This number replaces the Sofi number. While The Sofi number was issued by the Tax Office, the BSN is issued by the Gemeente. The BSN is used by all public organisations.


Registration with The Chamber of Commerce:

From July 1, 2008, every business has to be registered in the trade register of the Chamber of Commerce (Kamer van Koophandel). The Dutch Chamber of Commerce or Kamer van Koophandel has a very good web site with information in English about Starting your own business; (The information in Dutch however, is a little more comprehensive).


To know more about the orientation, the legal form, the business plan, the taxes and administration, business and liabilities, important issues such as pension and contracts and to get useful links, please refer to our ACCESS guide "Partner support".


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