You are willing or considering the possibility to become a freelancer in the Netherlands but you just don’t know where to start or what to do. Great news, you are at the right place 🙂
You might also be afraid of everything your freelance business would involve in terms of costs, taxes and administration.
Well, let us tell you first that going freelance in the Netherlands is probably much easier than what you think.
And when it comes to administrative puzzles, the Netherlands have this reputation to simplify everything as much as possible through digitalization.
The freelancer “status”, also commonly known as “ZZP’ER” or “ZZP” – Zelfstandigen Zonder Personeel literally meaning “Self-Employed Without Staff” greatly represents how launching a company in the Netherlands can be a simple, down-to-earth process.
Here is for you a step-by-step guide to become a freelancer in the Netherlands within a matter of days.
- Find an accountant
- Register on the KVK website
- Go to your appointment at the KVK
- Open a bank account
- Start freelancing
Of course, before starting this process you just need to ensure that you are eligible to work as a freelancer in the Netherlands.
If you have any doubt about this, just read the related article. You can also join our Facebook community here and ask your questions if you have any 😉
Step 1: Find an accountant
So let’s get down to the point.
The very first step for you to become a freelancer in the Netherlands would be to find an accountant. And if possible a not too expensive one J
Why do you need an accountant? How to find one? How much does it cost a year? We’ll explain you everything right away.
First, do you even really need an accountant as a ZZP?
Honestly, you could survive without one, especially if you have just a few invoices the first year you start as a ZZP.
However, an accountant is highly recommended for several reasons.
One of them is that you will obviously save time dealing with the Dutch administration, especially if you do not speak Dutch.
When you start freelancing, you want to do everything but wasting time trying to translate Dutch to English correctly and try to understand how to declare your taxes to the Belastingdienst.
And even though you are very good at translating, you are always likely to miss a few crucial details you need to be aware of or not to understand everything.
If your finances are simple, you can definitely determine the amount you pay for VAT and income tax.
However, knowing exactly how much tax you will have to pay as a freelancer is one thing but mastering the declaration process, especially for the income tax, is another. This can become quickly tricky, especially when you just start, trust me 🙂
Based on the various quotes we’ve collected so far, if you are for instance a consultant with simply 10/15 customers a year and have just a few expenditures every month, an accountant could cost you on average around 500€/year excluding tax to declare your VAT and income tax.
Actually, the price itself is very variable upon diverse criteria such as:
- Your level of activity: how frequent your expenditures and investments are, how many clients you’re working with etc.
If for example you have only a few clients (3/4 let’s say) and you charge them every month a regular amount, your accountant will not spend his/her whole life determining how much VAT you need to declare every quarter.
On the other hand, if you have dozens of clients who you charge irregularly with different amounts every time, it could take your accountant slightly more time to calculate and declare your taxes. Consequently, it would cost you more a year.
- The complexity of your personal financial situation to declare your income tax
- Or even how you have decided to coordinate with your accountant: if you send him/her invoices in bulk, he/she will obviously need time to process, organize and calculate everything whereas if you send a synthetic table of your spending and earning with invoices that are already sorted out, that will be much more simple for him/her.
Just keep in mind this basic principle: the more time your accountant has to spend to do your declarations, the more expensive it will be.
What you could also do as a freelancer is delegating your whole accounting to a web company: there are a few websites who offer you an online accounting service combined with the trust and knowledge of a team of accountants.
Here is an example of one of these companies
Nevertheless the cost of a yearly subscription is not necessarily cheaper than a “physical” accountant, especially when you just start freelancing.
An interesting alternative could be to start testing such solutions during your first year(s) of freelancing in the Netherlands and see whether you could switch, at some point, to a fully based online-managed accountancy, under the condition that it is ultimately cheaper.
If your freelance business grows, you are indeed likely to generate more and more invoices, which could have an impact on your accounting costs.
How to find your accountant?
There are multiple ways to find a reliable, thorough, not-too-expensive accountant. Yet, let’s quote the most common channels.
Just ask around: one of the most common and oldest fashioned method – but usually functioning – is just to ask people you know and especially if you already know a few freelancers in the Netherlands just ask them how they manage their accounting and what you should consider when you start freelancing.
Another valuable tip: there are a lot of ZZP communities on which you can easily ask for recommendations.
And if you are really lost you can ask your daily best online friend: Google 🙂
If you really do not find what you are looking for, you can always indeed use the most visited website in the world to contact a few accountants – let’s say 4/5 (you do not need to make contact with all accountants on earth) – and compare their prices and services.
A bit more time-consuming but still definitely worth it if you are looking for specific services or need accurate answers related to your own business accounting.
By the way, a very basic but terribly efficient business practice as a freelancer – and we have all omitted it at least once in our life – is the following: when you do not know something, just ask Google!
It may sound stupid but sometimes you would be surprised how quickly most of your seemingly complicated questions have actually already been answered on the web!
By the way, Google is not just a search engine: it can also benefit your business tremendously if you know how to use Google smartly to grow your freelance business.
Step 2: Register on the Chamber of Commerce (KVK) website
Assuming you have found your accountant and know the price he/she will roughly charge you per year, you now need to register on the chamber of commerce website.
Thank God, the Netherlands have made it really easy!
Registering at the Dutch chamber of commerce or “Kamer van Koophandel” is actually made in 2 steps: the online registration first – this will take you less than 20 minutes – and your appointment at the KVK – lasts about 30 minutes – to officially register as a freelancer in the Netherlands.
So how to register online first?
You just need to fill out a form on the KVK website in order to give them all the necessary information required to officially register you as a freelancer the day of your appointment.
This way they speed up the process and know exactly who you are and what you are going to do as a ZZP.
Click here to start your registration process at the KVK.
“Inschrijven eenmanszaak” means register a sole proprietorship. The sole proprietorship is the legal form of your business whereas ZZP – Zelfstandigen Zonder Personeel – is rather a specific branch/division of it.
Click on “Begin met inschrijven” to start your online registration.
You first need to enter your contact details so that the KVK sends you an email to confirm your identity. Once you have done so you will see the following page…
…and receive the below email.
Click on the link provided in the email to be able to continue your ZZP online registration. You have 7 days to confirm your account and be able to continue your registration process.
Once you have clicked on the link provided by the KVK you will see additional lines that have been added to the left menu. You need to check each section and enter as many details as possible and especially fill out the blanks that are marked with an asterisk.
Filling out the KVK form is not rocket science and quite straight forward.
Just give to the KVK as much information as possible about yourself and your future freelance business and you will review it with a representative the day of your appointment.
Here are a few tips to help you filling out some specific blanks and sections
a) Registering several branches or activities
Being a freelancer in the Netherlands does not necessarily mean offering one single service. You can actually perform a set of different activities under 1 single sole proprietorship or eenmanszaak.
Go to the eenmanszaak tab and just describe in the second tab which one of your activities is the most important one in case you offer a range of distinct services.
b) Offering services or distributing products?
If you offer services only just choose “Nee” for all items below.
c) Entering your accountant’s professional details
You can enter the personal details of your accountant in the “Belastingadviseur of boekhouder” tab so that the Belastingdienst gets directly in touch with him/her if they have any question.
Just ask your accountant for all his contact details and especially for his/her “Beconnummer”.
d) Do you have other sources of income already?
If you already benefit from other sources of income – lucky you 🙂 – you can specify this under the “Gegevens voor de Inkomstenbelasting”. This will help the Belastingdienst know that your freelance business may not be your primary source of income.
If you are for example already employed by a company, click on “Loon” to indicate that you earn a salary.
Eventually, once you have filled out your form and confirmed everything you will reach the following page inviting you to make an appointment with the KVK to review your information and officially register as a freelancer in the Netherlands.
Click on the provided link or go back to the main KVK page and click on “maak een afspraak” this time, which means “make an appointment”.
From there, select the KVK that is the closest one to your city.
If you live in Amsterdam for example, select the Kantoor of Amsterdam and “Bedrijf inschrijven of overnemen” (Registering or taking over the company) in the “Reden afspraak” field (reason for appointment).
Select the date that suits you best and confirm – in Amsterdam you are usually likely to have an appointment within 2 weeks.
Once you have confirmed you will receive a confirmation by email.
Be on time the day of your appointment, lest you are not accepted by the KVK due to their tight schedule.
You are soon a real ZZP, gefeliciteerd!
- Is there an ideal time to register at the KVK?
Technically you can register at any time of the year. That being said, when you start freelancing in the Netherlands you can benefit from great tax facilities and pay less taxes
The Startersaftrek is for example one of them. You can benefit from it 3 times during the first 5 years of your activity.
Therefore, if you want to fully benefit from it, you better officially register at the KVK at the beginning of the year to avoid “wasting” one year: if you register for example at the end of the year, you could have the Starteraftrek for just a few months instead of a full first year.
Step 3: Go to your appointment at the KVK
You are almost an official freelancer in the Netherlands!
Go to your appointment with the KVK – again, be on time! – to review with a representative all the information you have given out so far.
At the end of the appointment you receive a paper confirming all your details and giving you your VAT number – BTW Nummer – plus an official extract from the KVK – Uittreksel Handelregister Kamer van Koophandel – that sums up all the details about the company you just created (business name, activities, date of creation etc.)
You will also be listed in the Commercial Register (Handelsregister).
Well done! You’re now officially a freelancer in the Netherlands. Welcome to the club!
Step 4: Open a bank account
All what you have left is to open a bank account dedicated to your ZZP revenue and spending so that your private and professional earnings become distinct.
Although the ZZP “status” is not a business entity in itself, which means your legal entity and natural person are the same, you still need to differentiate your business revenue from your personal finances.
In order to so and depending on your bank, you usually have 2 options.
Either you open an extra private/current account that will be your freelance bank account or you open a business account (zakelijk).
But again, this depends on your bank: most banks do not allow you to use a private account for your ZZP activities.
If you ask for instance a bank like ING if you could use an extra current account for your ZZP business, they would tell you that they do not recommend using a private account for your freelance business and can close that account at any moment if they find out business spending or revenue on it. Not cool, huh? 🙂
So just check with your bank what would be the best option for you.
You can of course open a bank account at any moment during the process of becoming a freelancer: you actually do not need to provide your account number when registering at the KVK.
Opening a bank account is quite easy and straightforward. Just keep in mind that you will need to provide your bank your VAT number if you want to open a business (zakelijk) account.
And no matter if you are a customer of ING, ABN AMRO, or any other bank in the Netherlands, you usually do not need to go to an agency physically to open a second bank account: you usually do that when you open a brand new account / are not a customer of the bank yet.
Step 5: Start freelancing in the Netherlands!
Now that you are an official freelancer, your main first challenge is probably to find your first clients.
To have a good start and promote yourself the best way you definitely order or start building a great website if you have not one yet.
Having the right website will enable you to speak to your future clients and business partners in your most representative way.
And if you already have clients, there are many ways you can develop your freelance business.
That’s all dear readers!
Did that guide help you? How did you find the process to start freelancing in the Netherlands? Quite easy, huh? What would you improve in that guide? Don’t hesitate to share your thoughts with us 😀
By then, Good Luck, All the Best to you and don’t forget to have Fun! 😀