The Netherlands ranks 10th in the world for foreign direct investment (FDI) inflows, according to UNCTAD's World Investment Report 2015; it received inflows of USD30 billion in 2014.
The Netherlands ranked 28th in the World Bank's 2016 Doing Business rankings, down three places from 25th in the year prior. The Netherlands' strengths came in the Trading Across Borders topic where it ranked first in the world. The rankings also recognised that the Netherlands made paying taxes more costly for companies by increasing employer-paid labour contributions as well as road taxes, property taxes and Polder Board taxes.
Key facts about starting a business in the Netherlands:
While investing in the Netherlands is a transparent and straightforward process, it is important to understand the nuances of any local regime. The manner in which people conduct business in the Netherlands may differ from the home countries of investors. Furthermore, variations on these distinctions may exist in different regions of the Netherlands and the industry in which a company operates.
Dutch is the official language in the Netherlands and therefore the lingua franca of business. Nevertheless, much of the Dutch population is proficient in English.
Punctuality is important when conducting business in The Netherlands. Business attire is typically conservative; nevertheless, this varies across different industries.
A handshake is the typical greeting for a new introduction and business cards may be exchanged after initial introductions. Gift giving is not expected in Dutch business culture.
Those looking to establish a business in the Netherlands will often look to countries across the European Union (EU) as alternative options. While membership of the EU ensures parity in many aspects of the legal, tax and audit regimes, the Netherlands can be differentiated on the following factors:
Although there are many benefits of investing in the Netherlands, foreign investors should remain aware of potential challenges. The Dutch domestic market remains small and characterised by high levels of competition. Despite ranking highly in the WE Forum Global Competitiveness Rankings, it was acknowledged that the labour market is still a relative weakness, particularly when it comes to flexibility of wage determination.
This guide has been developed to provide businesses with an overview of the Netherlands, its legal regime, start-up and market entry considerations, tax and customs requirements and a general summary of the factors that may affect the decision to do business in the Netherlands. However, the information contained in this document is generic in nature and you should not act or rely on it without obtaining specific professional advice.
Please note that the Country Guides may only be available in English.
|1||Chamber of Commerce|
|2||Tax and Customs Administration|
|3||Data Protection Authority|
|4||Immigration and Naturalisation Service|
|5||Benelux Office for Intellectual Property|
|6||Netherlands Foreign Investment Agency|
|7||Ministry of Social Affairs and Employment|
|1||UNCTAD World Investment Report|
|2||Doing Business Rankings|
|5||English Language Skills|
|6||Global Competitiveness Report|
Download Country Guide - Netherlands (4.51MB, PDF)
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