If you dream of working in the Netherlands but don’t want to be dependent on an employer, you can consider the self-employment option. It’s a form of business that gives you a lot of freedom and flexibility to manage your time and finances, offering much broader opportunities for development than a classic job. Being self-employed means taking your destiny into your own hands and taking 100% responsibility for your professional life.
A self-employed person in the Netherlands is referred to by the abbreviation ZPP ‘Zelfstandige Zonder Personeel’, which translated means ‘self-employed person not hiring employees’.
This solution has a range of both pros and potential cons, so it is worth preparing well for this step and considering whether self-employment in the Netherlands is definitely the right solution for you.
This article will help you to assess if you are ready to set up a business, learn about the advantages and disadvantages of self-employment and properly prepare for self-employment in the Netherlands.
What are the advantages and disadvantages of self-employment in the Netherlands?
The main advantage is of course… making money in euros 😉 Earnings in the Netherlands are significantly higher than in Poland, also in terms of real purchasing power, which means considering the cost of living.
Self-employment allows you to have ‘something of your own’ – develop and build your personal brand, where you have the ability to set your own prices or your own work schedule, and over time, if you are successful, to grow it, for example by hiring additional Employees.
Turning a one-person business into a company is actually a step closer than you may think. If you are a valued professional, the number of assignments will start to exceed your personal time capacity sooner or later – and that means the chance to grow and hire additional Employee(s). By working for someone, you will never have this opportunity!
It also means flexible schedules and working hours – after all, you are now your own boss! You decide for yourself when you have time off and what hours you work.
Of course, self-employment isn’t just about benefits – if it were, everyone would start their own business!
Running your own business requires a high degree of self-discipline and motivation. Although you don’t have to worry about being reprimanded by your boss, this doesn’t mean that you are free of obligations! You are directly responsible to your customers – who, like your supervisor, will demand punctuality, personal culture, and a high quality of service. Many people find it much easier to perform their duties when they have a clearly defined schedule and tasks set by their supervisor. It is worth considering whether you can handle yourself under circumstances where your success depends 100% entirely on you.
Self-employment also involves a number of formal requirements and obligations, such as paying taxes, taking care of your insurance and pension. Remember, too, that you are fully responsible under the law for your work, such as for damage caused because of improper workmanship. If you want to know exactly what requirements you have to fulfil when setting up your own business in the Netherlands, you will find out later in this article.
What requirements do you have to meet if you want to work on a self-employed basis in the Netherlands?
Being self-employed in the Netherlands is possible for any European Union citizen who wants to be independent. However, in order to be legally self-employed in the country, several requirements must be met:
- Possession of a valid ID document.
- Register as a resident in the Netherlands and receive a BSN number (Burgerservicenummer), which is necessary for contact with the authorities and institutions. To register and obtain a BSN number, you must go to the local municipality of your place of residence.
- Register your company with the Dutch trade register Kamer van Koophandel (KvK) and obtain a tax identification number (RSIN) and a VAT number (BTW-nummer). You will need these for invoicing and tax accounting.
- Register your company with the Chamber of Commerce (Kamer van Koophandel) and with the UWV – the Social Security Office (cost approximately €50).
- Choose the form of your business. The most common legal form used by the self-employed is the single-person company (eenmanszaak), which does not require share capital or independent accounting.
- Have a company account that will be used exclusively for accounting and registering company incomes and expenses.
- Arrange an income tax and VAT settlement with the tax authorities. Self-employed persons can benefit from various tax reliefs and deductions if they meet certain criteria.
- Insure yourself in case of illness, incapacity or retirement. There is no obligatory social insurance for the self-employed in the Netherlands, so you have to take care of your financial security yourself. You must also remember to pay income tax and health and pension insurance contributions.
- Show professional independence (zelfstandigheid). This means that you must not be subordinated to any employer or client, neither must you do exclusive work for one company – Dutch law requires that you perform services for at least three different contractors in a year.
- Own the work tools, make individual business decisions and take the risks of running the company.
- Maintain the accounts of a one-person business.
- Work 1225 hours per year for the business – this includes time spent on training, finding clients or building a website. Meeting this criterion is required if you would like to be able to benefit from entrepreneurs’ tax relief.
How to register a company in the Netherlands?
The registration process begins by arranging an appointment electronically at the KvK (Kamer van Koophandel), at which you must appear with comprehensive information about the business you wish to set up (name, sector of activity, services offered, etc.) and a set of documents. This must be fresh data – no more than one month old.
Kamer van Koophandel will check that the company meets all the legal conditions and that it does not already have the same name in the register. Once the registration is complete, you will receive a KvK number (company registration number) and an RSIN number (company tax number). Registration is chargeable and costs €50.
Everything here is done in Dutch, so if you don’t feel up to it, you should hire an interpreter to accompany you or at least get help from a friend.
Self-employment in the Netherlands – are you ready?
As you can see, self-employment and work on your own in the Netherlands has many benefits that go hand in hand with additional responsibilities and risks. For some, this solution will be a fulfilment of a dream, but many people will be better off with a classic full-time job.
In the following articles, we will explain the opportunities for those wishing to relocate their business to the Netherlands and give practical tips on running a business, finding clients, building a professional image and completing legal and tax formalities.