The Netherlands is open for business, with a particular interest in innovative companies. Of any size! This is why the Netherlands introduced a residency program, especially for startup companies that are still in their founding phase and developing their product. An important criterion of the program is that you are able to demonstrate the potential of the product you are developing. In short, convince us of the product-market fit of your product or service, although this is also something you will keep improving and testing while you operate your business in the Netherlands.
Bolder Launch has a lot of experience with Startup Visas and we work(ed) with facilitators throughout the Netherlands, such a B. Amsterdam, The Next Web and Cambridge Innovation. In fact, Bolder Launch is part of these communities as well, so we are able to show you around!
What do we need to start a Startup Visa Company in the Netherlands?
One of the first steps is that we review the (Marketing) Plan that you have already prepared, so we can make an assessment and decide how much work your plan needs. If necessary, Bolder Launch can also help you with your Marketing Plan.
The final marketing/business plan, together with a prototype/patent description, and (if available) a promo video/demo, would be a solid foundation for the interview with a facilitator that Bolder Launch can connect you to, depending on your type of business, and mentoring needs.
Next steps in applying for Startup Visa
To start a Dutch company, you need to consider a budget of around 3.000-4.000 EUR for the first year. Once you can provide us with a clear overview of your product and your planned corporate structure, we can advise you on the details and the legal consequences.
In order to submit the application, the Company Formation must be pending/finalised, and obviously, the (Marketing) plan must be ready.
In case you need our help to draft the Plan, we can provide you with a quote for this after we receive your input. Even if your plan is perfect, Bolder Launch typically spends 3-10 hours rewriting the plan, to ensure that the RVO/government will recognise the important matters for the application. But this is optional.
In order to submit the Startup Visa application, the company formation should already be done, so this is typically the first step.
In parallel, you can work on the Step by Step (Marketing) Plan for the first 12 months, including:
- Information about the organization. The starting entrepreneur must have an active role in the organization (CV of each entrepreneur can be part of the plan) This means that he is not only a shareholder or financier. In any case, the step-by-step plan contains information about:
- The organisation of the organisation
- The roles and tasks/personnel
- The corporate structure (holding company/subsidiaries)
- The purpose/vision of the company
- A description of the intended innovative product or service
- A description of the planning and activities associated with launching the services in The Netherlands
To be able to travel to the Netherlands, you need a provisional residence permit (MVV). The MVV is a sticker that the Dutch representation affixes to the passport. Some people do not need an MVV.
You apply for the MVV and the residence permit in one go. You submit the application yourself to the Dutch representation in your country of origin or country of permanent residence. The Dutch representation will forward your application to the IND. After you have submitted the application, you will receive a letter from the Dutch representation stating how the fees must be paid. Please contact the Dutch representation for the application form, submission and payment of the application.
Are you already in the Netherlands to set up an innovative company and do you have a short-stay visa? Or are you not subject to a visa requirement? In that case, the IND will not reject the application due to the lack of an MVV if you meet all other conditions for granting a residence permit as a ‘start-up’. An application for a residence permit as a ‘start-up’ can then be submitted to the IND in the Netherlands.
The IND checks whether you meet all the conditions and requests advice from the Netherlands Enterprise Agency (RVO.nl, part of the Ministry of Economic Affairs). The service provides advice on the facilitator, the innovation, the step-by-step plan and registration in the Trade Register. Positive advice from the RVO is necessary to obtain a residence permit. The IND assesses the income.
The IND must make a decision within a period of 90 days, however, start-up applications will be given the top priority at the IND in order to ideally process them sooner (the current estimation is 7 weeks).
- Negative decision. If you do not meet the conditions, you will not receive an MVV and a residence permit. We can object against this decision.
- Positive decision. If you meet all the conditions, you will receive an MVV and a residence permit. The IND also informs Bolder Launch.
For more information, click this link.
Here’s a description of what the facilitators are looking for:
- Your company owns the intellectual property (in your case, an IT platform, for example, preferably as innovative as possible) which is a competitive advantage and allows you to grow fast;
- Ideally, your founding team is complete and committed, which allows you to do sales, grow the company and build the product without outside dependencies.
- You have an operational marketing plan to grow internationally;
- Ideally, you are serving customers with the first version of your product or service already or expecting to do so within a couple of months;
- You have a working product or prototype;
- You agree to domicile in the Netherlands, with its main address at the facilitator and a Dutch Chamber of Commerce number.
- Ideally, The company or foreign entity is no older than 3 years and The Netherlands will be one of the first markets
The start-up entrepreneur must have an active role. This means they are not simply a shareholder or financer. At a minimum, the step-by-step plan must detail the following:
- the structure of the organisation
- the assigned roles and tasks
- the legal form of the company
- the personnel
- the purpose of the enterprise
- a description of the idea for the product or service and why it is innovative (see Innovativeness)
- a description of the planning and activities associated with setting up the company.
Details of the development activities planned for the first year.
The start-up entrepreneur must have sufficient financial resources (income) to be able to reside, live and set up a business in the Netherlands for at least one year. Start-up entrepreneurs may not rely on public funds, such as welfare benefits. The start-up entrepreneur can prove he has sufficient resources in various ways:
- The Start-up Entrepreneur will transfer an amount of EUR 14,202 to the bank account of B. Management B.V.: ABNANL2ANL11ABNA0539902071. B. will keep this amount in deposit until The Start-up Entrepreneur has opened a bank account in the Netherlands, which can be done after receiving the Startup Visa. Directly after The Start-up Entrepreneur has opened a Dutch bank account, B. will transfer the deposited amount to this Dutch bank account.
- Another (legal) person, may fund the stay by providing financial resources (only valid if shown on a DUTCH bank account) to the start-up entrepreneur. The support must be available for the entire stay of the start-up entrepreneur (maximum of 1 year).
Application Processing and Costs
If the application is complete and includes all relevant documents, applicants will be notified of the official decision within 90 days, however, start-up applications will be given the top priority at the IND in order to ideally process them sooner (the current estimation is 7 weeks)
The one-time application costs charged by most Startup Facilitators are € 2000. The application costs at the IND are € 317.
We ask you to become a one-year member at B.Amsterdam, by renting a (flex) desk starting at € 175 p/m
Contact the Bolder Launch team for a full proposal and overview of the incorporation procedure for your specific situation.
7 Useful tips when starting a startup in The Netherlands
Tip #1 The cheapest way to start a business in The Netherlands
A common technique for startups is to stay as lean as possible. Therefore as a startup, your first plan would probably be to look at the cheapest and quickest way to set up a company in The Netherlands.
However, setting up a company at a low fee might come at a high price.
The easiest way to register a company in The Netherlands as a startup would be to register a ‘branch’ (liaison office) of an existing overseas company, or register a sole proprietorship. In both scenarios, there is no notary involved, and the formation fees are close to zero (excluding professional guidance).
We do suggest discussing with a legal professional your plans for the next 12-24 months, to avoid any expensive and/or unnecessary restructuring of your business, as soon as you reach your first milestone.
Tip #2 Start doing business without any local company registration
In case you are not planning to relocate to The Netherlands, and you are not performing any activities in The Netherlands yet, you are able to create a Dutch ‘virtual office’.
A Dutch virtual office would consist of a local phone number, mailing address, and maybe even a phone answering service. A virtual office would allow you to explore the market, and test your marketing strategy, or product-market fit before you invest in a fully-fledged office.
Tip #3 Prepare to involve investors and new shareholders
It’s difficult to grow a company. And it’s even more difficult to grow it all by yourself. It’s likely that your company will attract investors or shareholders at some point, which will help you grow. If you decide to start your business as a sole proprietorship, while you are planning to attract investors, you will be certain of the fact that you will have to adapt your corporate structure to this new situation. Because an investor would not be able to take any equity in a sole proprietorship, for the simple reason that a sole proprietorship has no shares to be divided. It’s not considered a ‘company limited by shares’.
Even if you do establish a ‘company limited by shares’, it’s not unlikely that you will have to negotiate the contents of your Articles of Association or shareholders agreements once you onboard an investor. This means that you can already consider the extra expenses of implementing these changes with the help of a notary public in The Netherlands.
Tip #4 Limit your (personal) liabilities
Keep your liabilities at a minimum at all times. Especially when you are incorporating a company into a new market, in which you don’t fully understand the tax and legal requirements yet. Although it can be cheap to register a branch in The Netherlands, if you decide to do so, make sure you have a full understanding of your risks and liabilities, so you can reduce them as much as possible.
Tip #5 Apply for a Dutch Startup Visa
In case you are a non-EU national, and planning to start a business in The Netherlands, then the Startup Visa could be ideal for you! The Startup Visa allows innovative entrepreneurs to easily get a residency permit in The Netherlands, to grow their business.
Tip #6 Get a tax calculation and filing requirements timeline
Once you have decided that you like to start a company in The Netherlands, we advise you to prepare a full timeline of the administrative requirements of your company and the expected taxes that you are likely required to pay. Of course, you might not have a good expectation yet on the amount of turnover or profit that you might achieve, but aside from that, you can consider any salary taxes, VAT, and the appropriate filing dates (to avoid penalties).
Tip #7 Find a professional partner to keep your company in Goodstanding
Aside from the tax filing requirements, you need to make sure that your company complies with Dutch Company law. It’s important that you prepare a proper Financial Statement, and file these statements at the Chamber of Commerce, after being approved during an Annual Shareholders Meeting.
In case you use the services of a Business Center, it’s important that the Business Center has a manned reception during working hours, and that they are able to contact you within a reasonable time. Even if you are residing overseas yourself.
Bolder Launch can appoint a dedicated corporate secretary, to ensure that your company fully complies with all Dutch laws and standards.