Complete guide to obtaining a Netherlands visa for startups and entrepreneurs, the procedures, requirements, and FAQs
If you want to move to the Netherlands to open your own company or work as a freelancer, you will have to apply for a Netherlands self-employment visa.
In some cases, Dutch authorities allow some entrepreneurs a preparatory year to get their company started. This is done through the Netherlands Startup visa.
What is a Netherlands Self-Employment Visa?
A Netherlands self-employment visa is a Dutch residence permit that allows the holder to stay in the country and work independently.
There are certain standard conditions everyone applying for a Dutch work visa has to meet. Then, there are additional requirements for each type of work visa. The requirements and conditions for the self-employment visa are stricter than all of them.
What are the requirements for a Netherlands Self-Employment Visa?
Before anything else, you must be able to prove that your services/products are innovative and serve an essential service for Dutch economy. This is measured through a point-based system by the Netherlands Enterprise Agency (RVO).
The system measures:
- Your personal experience (education, work experience, entrepreneurship)
- Your business plan (the service/product, market analysis, financing, organization, price)
- The value it adds to the Netherlands (employment opportunities, investments, innovation)
The maximum number of points is 300. A minimum of 30 points per each category is required, meaning you need a minimum of 90 points overall.
This scoring system does not apply if you have a Turkish nationality or are a long-term resident EC in another EU country. Other requirements for obtaining a Netherlands work visa for self-employment include:
- You must be registered in the Trade Register of the Chamber of Commerce (KvK).
- You have all the necessary licenses to practice your business or profession.
- You will be able to earn a sufficient income from your activities.
- For a freelancer: You must have at least one commission in the Netherlands that you are going to work on.
- For an individual healthcare company: You are registered in the BIG-register (Individual Healthcare Professions).
- For the Dutch American Friendship Treaty and Dutch Japanese Trade Treaty: You must have American or Japanese nationality; you must conduct business between the Netherlands and the US/Japan; you have invested or are investing significant capital.
How to Apply for a Netherlands Self-Employment Visa?
The way you apply for a Netherlands visa for self-employment depends on your nationality. Some nationalities need an MVV (provisional residence permit) before they apply for their Dutch residence permit for self-employment purposes. If you do need an MVV, you will have to apply for one at the Dutch embassy/consulate in your country.
If an MVV is not necessary, you can apply for your Dutch residence permit for self-employment at the IND (Immigration and Naturalisation Service) after you arrive in the Netherlands.
However, the Dutch authorities are aware that in many cases, new companies cannot adequately satisfy the point criteria set out for a self-employment visa. This is why they have offered the option of applying for a preparatory year in the Netherlands in order to get their company started. In this case, the applicant will have to apply for a Netherlands Startup visa.
What is a Netherlands Startup Visa?
The Netherlands Startup visa makes it easier for new entrepreneurs to get their company started in the Netherlands. It is a one-year Dutch residence permit which allows the holder to work with a “facilitator” in the Netherlands to get his/her company ready to meet the criteria of a self-employment visa.
A startup entrepreneur needs to have an active role in the company, meaning they cannot be merely a financer/stakeholder.
What is a facilitator?
A facilitator is the business mentor who the foreign entrepreneur will be working with. The facilitator provides the entrepreneur with support based on the specific needs of the startup company. This support could be by helping with marketing, operational management, research etc.
There is a number of conditions a facilitator has to meet:
- Experience in mentoring innovative startups
- They must be financially stable
- They cannot have a majority interest in the startup
- They cannot be a family member of the entrepreneur. This applies up to the third degree: child, parent, grandparent, aunt/uncle.
- They must be registered in the Trade Register of the Chamber of Commerce
The Netherlands Enterprise Agency (RVO) decides if someone meets the criteria to become a facilitator for a startup visa. They also have a list of recognized facilitators.
After the one-year startup visa ends, the facilitator can provide a recommendation for the entrepreneur to the immigration services to aid their Dutch self-employment visa application.
Dutch Startup Visa Business Plan
A startup entrepreneur has to provide a step-by-step plan detailing how they will move their idea from a concept to actual business. This is also done to provide the authorities with information about what the company will entail before they issue a Netherlands startup visa.
A step-by-step for a Netherlands startup visa includes:
- Information regarding the organization. This includes: the structure of the organization; the purpose of the company; roles and tasks; the company’s legal form; the personnel.
- A description on how the plans and activities that you will undertake to set up the company.
- A description of the innovative product or service you will be providing.
What makes a product innovative?
In order for a product or service to be of value to the Netherlands and be considered it has to be innovative. A product/service is innovative if:
- It is new to the Netherlands
- It has an innovative organizational method and procedure
- It produces, distributes, and advertises by employing new technologies
How to Apply for a Netherlands Startup Visa?
If you are a national of a country who does not need an MVV to enter the Netherlands, you can apply for your Netherlands startup visa at the IND.
Even so, if you are already in the Netherlands with a short-stay visa to open a business, you may not need to apply for an MVV even if your country normally requires one. If you meet all the other criteria, you can submit you application for a startup visa directly to the IND.
You can also authorize your facilitator to apply on your behalf.
However, if you are abroad and your country requires an MVV, you can apply for both the MVV and the residence permit at the same time. You can do this at the Dutch embassy/consulate in your country.
If you require an MVV, your facilitator cannot apply for the startup visa on your behalf.
When you apply, you need to have a completed application form as well as the required documents (and copies for each of them.) All your documents need to be in either English, French, Dutch, or German. If they are not, you have to get them translated by an authorized Dutch translator.