The Netherlands was one of the world’s first great maritime powers and generated enormous wealth through its dominance of the sea. It’s a tradition that continues into the 21st century. Its port city of Rotterdam is the largest seaport in the world outside East Asia.
But it’s not all docks and container ships: picturesque villages and rainbow-coloured tulip fields dot the low-lying landscape, and its cities are progressive economic powerhouses connected by ancient waterways.
This guide will explore the key considerations when starting a company in the Netherlands.
Is the Netherlands a good place to start a business?
The Netherlands has a pro-business outlook and welcomes foreign entrepreneurs and investors. With some of Europe's most attractive tax incentives, over 1000 new businesses choose to set up operations in the Netherlands each year.
In 2022, the Netherlands was named the second-best country in the world for entrepreneurs. Only the UAE was judged to offer new businesses better opportunities for growth, innovation, and access to professional services.
At the heart of the country is the capital city, Amsterdam. For over 300 years it’s been a key centre of global trade and cultural influence.
Amsterdam welcomes over 8.8 million tourists yearly, despite only having 883,000 residents. The city is also home to Schiphol, the third-busiest airport in Europe and an increasingly important hub for connections from East Asia.
What is the market potential in the Netherlands?
Businesses in the Netherlands can take advantage of its strategic location and access to 300+ million potential customers across Europe.
The Netherlands has one of the highest GDP per capita rates in Europe. An affluent population that is quick to embrace new ideas is a recipe for commercial success. An advanced logistics and distribution network and a history of progressive economic and social policies make this adaptive environment possible.
The Euro has been the official currency since 2002 and is used domestically and professionally. Other currencies aren’t ordinarily accepted, so access to domestic banking services is essential for any Dutch company.
The EU created the Single Euro Payments Area (SEPA) to streamline Euro payments between nations. Millions of cross-border payments happen each day in the Netherlands. As such, access to fast and secure financial services is essential for all businesses looking to establish themselves in the country and scale with ease.
3S Money helps businesses from 190+ countries access the SEPA network through local EU IBANS, connected to our International Business Account.
What is the business culture like in the Netherlands?
The business culture across the Netherlands is professional, punctual, and progressive. Collaboration is seen as a vital element of success.
That collaborative spirit, together with open-mindedness and strategic stability, creates a fertile business environment for every industry. With a highly educated, culturally diverse workforce, the Netherlands is a hotbed for innovation. Indeed, it was placed in the top five countries in the world by the Global Innovation Index (GII) 2022.
Dutch is the official language of the Netherlands, spoken by 96% of the population. But Amsterdam’s position as a global city means that many other languages are widely understood. Around 90% of the Dutch population is also fluent in English, while French and German are spoken to a higher standard than in many other European countries.
Ease of communication is another reason why Amsterdam is a popular choice for international companies.
Can a non-resident set up a business in the Netherlands?
Yes, a non-resident can start a business in the Netherlands. Listing a business on the Dutch Business Register doesn’t require personal proof of residency. However, every company must have a registered proof of address in the country.
Every new foreign-owned business that operates in the Netherlands must legally do the following:
List on the Dutch Business Register (Handelsregister)
Register with the Chamber of Commerce (KVK)
Register with the Dutch Tax and Customs Administration (Belastingdienst)
People who want to live or work in the Netherlands must have a residency permit or recognised work visa. The documents people need will differ based on their citizenship status.
Fortunately, the Netherlands has a simple business legislation structure. This system helps streamline processes and remove bureaucracy which could otherwise hamper commercial enterprise.
EU and EEA residents
Citizens of the EU and EEA (European Economic Area) are free to live and work in the Netherlands. They can also freely access business, financial, and domestic services. Some restrictions still apply to Swiss, Bulgarian and Romanian nationals.
Non-EEA citizens must obtain a provisional residence permit (MVV) or work visa (TWV). The application process involves a points-based evaluation and additional immigration checks.
Startup visa system
The startup boom in the Netherlands has coincided with the introduction of specialised visa programmes.
The Dutch startup visa is a fast-track work and residence permit valid for one year. The requirement is that the holder introduces an innovative product to the Dutch market under the guidance of local facilitators.
Do business owners need to open a bank account in the Netherlands?
There’s no legal requirement for companies to hold a business account, but it’s considered best practice.
Non-residents can apply for a business account with high-street lenders such as ING, Rabobank, and ABN Amro. The application process for a business account can be difficult for non-residents, requiring extensive documentation and interviews.
Online competitors such as Bunq, N26, and KNAB also provide business account services. However, these accounts are not necessarily suitable for all international businesses. Some only offer services in Europe, while others don’t match 3S Money’s global reach of 65+ currencies and 190+ countries.
Every 3S Money Global Business Account comes with a dedicated NL IBAN. Using this, our clients can accept, send, and exchange payments in the Netherlands without opening a local bank account.
What support is available for new businesses in the Netherlands?
Many schemes and initiatives are available to entrepreneurs looking to start a business in the Netherlands.
The Chamber of Commerce operates a Business Finance Help Desk. Similar services are available in all major cities and ex-pat centres such as The Hague.
Regional Development Corporations have also been set up to help localise funding in specialised business districts.
Here are some examples of the funding and business support services available in the Netherlands:
This scheme exists to provide entrepreneurs with access to professional and legal services. €75 million in funding is available to help boost the startup economy and attract foreign investment to the Netherlands.
Under the Ambitious Entrepreneurship Action Plan, the following services are available:
Early-stage finance for product marketing
The opportunity to invest in Dutch startups
Access to funding from the European Commission
At 3S Money, we know first-hand how difficult it is to scale a business in a new market. We pride ourselves on supporting clients from 190+ countries, when they need us most.
Each 3S Money account comes with a dedicated Client Manager. They will help support you and your business when expanding into new markets.
Is the Netherlands safe for businesses?
The Netherlands is one of the most economically secure countries in the world. Strict local and European regulations protect businesses.
These regulations help keep the market fair, competitive and transparent. They also encourage companies to provide the best service for their customers.
In August 2022, 3S Money received our Electronic Money Institution (EMI) licence from the Luxembourg Commission de Surveillance du Secteur Financier (CSSF).
A Netherlands business bank account alternative for non-residents
3S Money is a bank challenger, not a challenger bank.
We offer human customer support, with a forward-thinking approach to risk management. This allows us to remove bureaucracy and make decisions quickly.
Here’s a taste of what we offer:
Local EU IBANs
With 3S Money, businesses enjoy the benefits of a local bank account without the hassle. This means faster payments, reduced fees, and instant access to domestic markets.
Human client support
This means no more call queues, chatbots or automated replies. We provide tailored payment support and local expertise across five international offices.
Send and receive high-value payments in 190+ currencies
Wherever in the world a business operates, 3S Money makes payments possible. With the widest global coverage of any provider, we bring global markets to our clients.
5x cheaper FX rates than traditional banks
A 3S Money International Business Account is a perfect solution for businesses looking to scale their operations in Europe. Our clients can seamlessly send and receive high-value payments in 65+ currencies, to 190+ countries, while benefiting from five times cheaper FX fees than traditional banks.
Open a 3S Money International Business Account
Are you looking to open an EU business account or want to learn more about 3S Money? Contact our EU sales team today at [email protected] or +31 203 699 870.
Ready to get started? Start your application and begin your 3S Money journey today.