How to Become a Freelancer in the Netherlands

Job hunting online has never been easier for ex-pats and internationals in the Netherlands. Find out what you should search for with our guide to finding jobs online in the Netherlands.

How to Become a Freelancer in the Netherlands

Becoming a freelancer in the Netherlands can be quite lucrative, even if starting with limited experience or connections. This guide will tell you how to become a freelancer in the Netherlands. The Netherlands is one of the best places in the world to start a freelance career, with an economy based primarily on small businesses. In addition, 70% of Dutch people work in freelancing positions at some point in their lives; there's plenty of business to go around!

In the Netherlands, starting your own business as a freelancer is practically the easiest path to take. The term "ZZP'er" (zelfstandige zonder personeel) literally means "independent without staff." You don't require a company strategy or any startup money. Being a freelancer has several financial benefits as well, particularly tax benefits.

What is the Difference Between Starting a Business and Becoming a Freelancer (ZZP'erZZP'erhe Netherlands

The Dutch ZZP application process is simple and less complicated than in many other nations. As a result, over a million freelancers worked there in 2017; by 2020, when 17.2% of the population was self-employed, it had the highest rate in the EU. In the Netherlands, isn't much distinction between beginning a business and becoming a ZZP. However, while the technique is nearly identical, the legal business structures couZZP'erfer.

As a ZZP'er, you will likely start a business as a sole proprietorship or private limited company, which requires more financial and administrative resources. However, freelancers who want to collaborate on projects may choose a general partnership.

Being a freelancer has several advantages. For example, you can decide on your projects, team members, and working hours. You usually don't have such freedom while you're an employee. In addition, because only your profit is taxed, you can pay less tax while starting your firm in addition to significant tax incentives.

However, freelancing has significant drawbacks. For instance, you won't receive incentives, sick days, or vacation time, and you'll be required to make your pension arrangements. Additionally, you won't be eligible to apply the 30% ruling, robbing you of the opportunity provided by founding other types of enterprises.

Who Can Become a Freelancer in the Netherlands?

Anyone with a Dutch residency permit can start a business in the Netherlands as a freelancer or ZZP'er because it is legal. However, a value-added (VAT) number must also be obtained from the Dutch tax office, and you must register your company with the Dutch Chamber of Commerce. BTW, or belasting toegevoegde waarde, is the Dutch term for VAT.

If you come from another EU nation, you can apply for residency in the Netherlands once you arrive. Then and only then may you sign up to join ZZP'er. Your country is irrelevant as long as you have a Dutch residency permit. In other cases, you'll also need a license or to follow special rules and legislation that apply to a specific industry. For instance, whether you operate in the hospitality industry (e.g., a restaurant, hotel, or café) or deal with imports and exports.

The Netherlands Startup Visa

You should apply for a startup visa to start a business in the Netherlands if you are from outside the EU, EEA, or Switzerland and do not currently have a Dutch residence permit. This visa has a yearlong validity and costs €349. However, you must demonstrate in your business plan how your enterprise will advance the Dutch economy.

The criteria for applying for this visa can change. But there are five critical requirements for using precisely:

  • You must work with a skilled facilitator who can help you with the startup process.
  • You need an innovative product or service.
  • You must have a comprehensive business plan.
  • Both the business's owner and the facilitator must register with the KVK.
  • You must have enough money to support yourself financially in the Netherlands and run your business independently.

How to Register a New Business in the Netherlands

The Dutch Chamber of Commerce (Kamer van Koophandel or KvK) is where you register your new firm as your first administrative step toward becoming a freelancer. Since being a freelancer or ZZP'er has no particular legal form, you must select a legal structure for your company. Your financial and legal preferences determine the kind you choose. Fortunately, registering a new corporation or organization in the Dutch Business Register only costs €51.95. You can do this immediately if you already hold a Dutch residency permit.

You must first obtain your Dutch residency as an EU, EEA, or Swiss citizen by requesting a social security number (burgerservicenummer - BSN) and signing up with your municipality. Before registering a business in the Netherlands, if you are not from the EU, EEA, or Switzerland, you must apply for a provisional residence permit (MVV). Unlike the startup visa, you don't need a website or a business plan to registering a new firm in the Netherlands. Nevertheless, making one is advised.

Legal structures for freelancers in the Netherlands

For business owners, there are numerous distinct sorts of structures. Whether you intend to hire staff in the future, you need to choose a different business structure. If you wish to start numerous businesses, consider if you or the company will be answerable in the event of a financial failure, among other things. You're most likely going to be one of the following as a freelancer:

  • Sole proprietor: You are the only person in charge of the company under this arrangement. This includes whatever money you might ultimately owe.
  • A private limited company: Unlike the sole proprietor, a private limited company would place financial responsibility on the firm. You aren't the business. Instead, you are in charge of it.

The sole proprietor structure is ideal if you intend to work alone and do not need to make a significant financial investment in your business. There are various additional kinds of buildings. But most of them don't apply to independent contractors. Responding to a series of questions, you will be asked to choose the ideal structure when joining the KVK to become a ZZP'er.

How to Register as a Freelancer in the Netherlands

Filling out a form on the KVK website, which requests your name, business name, and contact information, will allow you to register as a freelancer easily. After completing this, you will receive a meeting date with a KVK staff. This appointment will most likely take place in the coming weeks. The wait times can occasionally be a little longer in Amsterdam, but they might be shorter if you're willing to travel to another city.

You will be questioned on some of the same topics as in the form during the meeting. A few documents will also be given to you for perusal and signature. You should feel free to ask the KVK staff any questions you may have at this point. After paying the required cost, you will formally become a business owner.

Notably, even though you don't officially sign the documents until you show up for the appointment, you should begin collecting VAT as of the date you specified for your business launch.

Final Thoughts

In conclusion, it cannot be easy at times to try to land clients as a freelancer. To locate work, there are numerous web services available. For instance, you can build your social media accounts and advertise your services in local expat Facebook groups (if this is permitted). For independent contractors, LinkedIn can be a valuable digital resource. Upwork, Fiverr, and Freelance NL are more helpful websites for independent contractors.

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