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If you want to set up a business in the Netherlands, you can apply for a residence permit as an entrepreneur.

RVO (Netherlands Enterprise Agency) assesses whether your business has a good chance of success and serves the Dutch economy’s vital interests. RVO evaluates your application with a point-based system. 

Point-based system

You score points for the following 3 aspects:

  1. personal experience: education, work, and entrepreneurial experience
  2. business plan: market analysis, your product/service, pricing, organization, and financing
  3. economic value added to the Dutch economy: innovation, creation of jobs, investment

A minimum of 90 points is needed to qualify for the permit. To achieve this, you must:

  • score at least 30 points for each of the three aspects, or
  • score at least 45 points for (1) personal experience and (2) business plan

The point-based system is notoriously strict: it is not easy to score sufficient points. It is particularly important to have a solid financial plan, to substantiate investments and to exemplify your experience as an entrepreneur. The more solid evidence you present, the more points you will score.

Among other things, you need to demonstrate in your business plan that you will earn at least 70% of the statutory minimum wage. You also need to prove that you have the necessary licenses (if applicable) to carry out your business.

On the plus side, you do not need to pass a civic integration exam for this type of permit.

The residence permit

A residence permit for entrepreneurs is valid for 2 years. Renewal is straightforward, provided you meet the same conditions, and:

  • your business is still active
  • you still earn sufficient income
  • your personal situation did not change
  • you did not apply for unemployment benefits
  • you were not charged with any violation of the law

With this residence permit, you are exclusively allowed to work for your own enterprise. If you take up any other form of work/employment, you must apply for a separate work permit (TWV).

Family members qualify for a residence permit of the same duration. They do not need a work permit for any kind of work/employment in the Netherlands. They have free access to the Dutch labor market.

Other routes

In certain circumstances, the road towards a residence permit for entrepreneurs is somewhat easier.

  • First-time entrepreneurs with little to no experience in starting a business can apply for the more lenient start-up program.
  • To American, Japanese, and Turkish nationals, a distinct set of rules apply, based on the Friendship Treaties between the Netherlands and these countries. 
  • Alternative facilities are available to artists.
  • If you are a non-EU citizen, but you have spent considerable time in another EU country, you may fall under the requirements for EU long-term residents.

Entrepreneurs with an EU nationality do not need a residence permit to set up business in the Netherlands.

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