Market Entry in the Netherlands

>> Advice for Market Entry to the Netherlands

The European market is highly fragmented with the Netherlands representing a small but extremely interesting and competitive but lucrative marketplace.

As in all cases, it is essential to do your homework and to find a local partner to assist you in avoiding costly mistakes and preparing your market entry both strategically and structurally.

The points below offer you good starting points and advice to start your exciting journey of entering the so-called „Gateway to Europe “- the Netherlands.

  1. Networking

Networking is essential for entrepreneurs that are considering expanding to the Netherlands. Informal professional networks and communities contribute more to entrepreneurial success than formal structures such as incubators and accelerators.

Main business networks in the Netherlands

  • StartupDelta provides support by strengthening, connecting and growing the startup ecosystem of the Netherlands.
  • Amsterdam American Business Club (AABC) is a professional business network group whose main purpose is to help improve business-to-business contacts between Dutch and American businesses.
  • Australian Business in Europe (ABIE) is a business organisation for Australians living in Europe and for Europeans wishing to maintain a connection with Australia.
  • Netherlands British Chamber of Commerce a bilateral non-profit membership business organisation dedicated to promoting and supporting Anglo-Dutch trade and investment and to serving its members’ needs.

You can also join our Expand to Europe Executive Network on LinkedIn.

  1. Consider Legal Aspects first

Finding the right business form for your company is important.  A business can be set up in different forms in the Netherlands for example, as a sole trader, a limited company, a general partnership or an ordinary partnership. The company must be registered at the Dutch Chamber of Commerce (KvK) and more information about the different company forms is available on their website. There are various advantages and disadvantages of these business types which make it essential for you to understand before selecting the trading form that is right for your business requirements.

Dutch law makes no distinction between Dutch citizens and foreigners in the establishment of companies and no restrictions on the repatriation of profits. Nationals from outside the EU/EEA/Switzerland will need a visa or work permit to legally reside and work in the Netherlands.

  1. Prepare a Business-plan specifically for the Netherlands

It is crucial that before any steps are taken to enter the Dutch market, the possible opportunities and risks for the business must be considered.

  1. Seek expert advice

Individuals or companies that are interested to expand to the Netherlands are advised to seek expert advice regarding the market potential, human resource management, legal, accounting and tax matters.

  1. Seek assistance from Dutch Government and non- government organisations:

  1. Find a local partner

Experienced representation is an important element of the market strategy. The primary competitors for foreign products are local companies, but foreign businesses can overcome this competition by offering high-quality products and services at competitive prices with locally based sales and after-sales support.

Local representation or market presence is important and obtaining a local partner/consultant to assist you initially is a recommended way to enter the market.

In the Netherlands relationships are important and it requires an investment of time and personal presence. Product training for the partner’s personnel and regular updates on developments is essential.

  1. Language

In general, English is widely spoken in the Netherlands, and by far the favoured second language used in the field of commerce. It is preferable for written correspondence to be in Dutch, but it may also be conducted in English. Trade literature should preferably be in Dutch.

  1. Meetings and Presentations

  • It is important to target the right person to establish contact with, preferably the decision-maker of the
  • It is also preferable to establish new business contacts via phone or e-mail, although the Dutch do not like cold callers.
  • It is recommended to make use of an introduction by mutual contact, someone the company already knows and trusts.
  1. Trade Shows and exhibitions

Exhibitions and Trade Shows are perfect places for companies and establishments to promote their business and attract potential customers. It is strongly advised to visit a trade show related to your business to get an idea of the market and the competition you will be facing. Several very good trade shows are held in most industries. More information can be found here:

  1. Letterbox company

  • Dutch legislation does not allow a business to establish its domicile in the Netherlands with only a mailing address for purposes of minimizing its tax liability.
  • The company must have a permanent office location and working environment which can be visited by a tax inspector and the possibility must exist that employees of the company can work in the office on a daily or frequent basis.

Latest version updated 6th December 2017

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