The purpose of this detailed manual is to guide you through the investment environment in the Netherlands. It offers practical information about the country and how to set up a business, adopt the ideal legal form, the subsidy schemes, the tax system, labour law and much more. For more detailed information, please do not hesitate to contact your personal Crowe Foederer accountant.
The Netherlands is an open economy, carried along by international economic trends. International economic or financial crises and the Brexit process mainly affect the Dutch economy through exports, as a result of a reduction in world trade. However, these have a relatively limited direct real impact on Dutch exports. It is still difficult to estimate how far Brexit will really affect Dutch exports and hence the Dutch economy. At the same time we can see that because of Brexit international companies are settling or expanding their existing operations in the Netherlands in view of their EU interests.
The worldwide Corona pandemic is also affecting the Netherlands. Partly due to various financial support measures from the Dutch government, the Dutch economy generally seems to be resisting the worldwide effect of the Corona pandemic relatively well.
For many companies and certainly companies operating internationally it can also be said that the financial situation of these companies (profitability and solvency) is on average in good health. This underlines the attractive investment climate in the Netherlands.
For a number of years the Netherlands has adjusted parts of its fiscal regime in line with the worldwide attempt to combat tax avoidance and undesirable use of national legislation and mismatches in the fiscal treatment of income and cost deductions between countries’ fiscal regimes. The Dutch government has decided as far as possible to link the fiscal benefits to the real economic activities from which the Dutch economy benefits. For example the Netherlands wants to shake off its reputation as a fiscal ‘transfer country’, by reorganising its corporation and dividend tax regime such that tax avoidance by involving the Netherlands is discouraged. Not only by fiscal adjustments, but also by introducing measures that lead to more government control and more transparency regarding the activities of these companies. By gradually pursuing this more the Dutch government wants to focus more on the fiscal stimulation of real activity and maintaining its status as an attractive host country.
Country and Government
The Netherlands has a total population of 17.6 million inhabitants (January 2022) and is governed by a monarchy. The ministers are the people’s representatives with respect to the actions of the government. The head of state does not bear political responsibility and can therefore not be held politically accountable by the parliament. The Netherlands has 12 provinces, each with its own local authorities. The Netherlands, together with the countries of Aruba, Curacao and Sint-Maarten form part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. The islands of Bonaire, Sint-Eustatius and Saba all have a separate status and belong to the Caribbean part of the Kingdom.
Most of the major industries in the Netherlands are situated in the country’s western regions. The Port of Rotterdam is one of the biggest ports in the world. The railway line, the ‘Betuweroute’, ensures fast and efficient transport from the port to the European hinterland, including Central and Eastern Europe and even China. Utrecht is a central traffic junction and Schiphol is also home to the main Dutch airport which is also one of the world’s biggest hub-airports. Eindhoven, in the southern part of the Netherlands, is known as ‘Brainport’ for high tech companies. The Low Lands, as the Netherlands is also known, play an extremely important role in the functioning of the transport artery.
Import and export
The country’s perfect location and healthy financial policy have helped to ensure that the Netherlands has grown into an important import and export nation. The country’s most important industrial activities include oil refineries, chemicals, foodstuff processing and the development of electronic products. Germany, Belgium, Luxembourg, China, Great Britain, France and the United States are the country’s main import partners. All the above-mentioned countries, including Italy, are also the country’s most influential export partners.
The Dutch National Bank (De Nederlandsche Bank, DNB) is responsible for the money flow in the Netherlands. One of the government’s most important objectives is to keep prices stable and thereby to contain inflation. Dutch banks offer an extensive range of financial services: some are specialized, while others offer an extremely wide range of services. Dutch banks are reliable: most financial institutions use organizational structures that prevent the possibility of entanglement of interests. The general prohibition on commission also contributes to this.
Right to establish a business
Foreign companies wishing to set up shop in the Netherlands can set up the existing foreign legal entity through a representative office or establishment in the country without the need to convert it into a Dutch legal entity. They will however be required to deal with both international and Dutch law. All foreign companies with establishments in the Netherlands must be registered with the Chamber of Commerce.
A most competitive economy
The Netherlands is an attractive base for doing business and for investment. Its open and international outlook, well-educated work force and strategic location are contributors. The attractive fiscal climate and technological infrastructure create favourable propositions for international business.
Below you find the full publication of Doing Business in the Netherlands. For more detailed information, please do not hesitate to contact your personal Crowe Foederer accountant.