Living the Dutch Dream, Expand Your Business to the Netherlands

Do you think about expanding your businessto Europe? Then there are many European countries to choose from. The Netherlands is an enticing prospect.It has a diversified economy, is located in a part of Europe with many potential consumers and with its open borders it can be used to service the rest of Europe.

What can you expect from business and live overseas; is the NetherlandsaSodom and Gomorrah?The way the Netherlands and in particular Amsterdam, its capital, is often brought into the news. Although some of you will regret, the answer can be short: it is not. Legislation in the Netherlands on subjects as abortion and possession can differ in comparison to the US, though please note that also in a small country as the Netherlands opinions between individuals or regions can differ substantially. In this respect it is not that different to the US. In this article I would therefore like to focus on the more practical matters new comers have to deal with.

The tax treaty between the Netherlands and the United States contains favorable conditions. Also, the Netherlands is easily accessible for US companies, which can even bring their own personnel in case highly educated. Not commonly known is that under the Dutch American Friendship Treaty, self-employed USA citizens can apply for a Dutch residence permit to live and work in the Netherlands. Americans with plans to set up a business shall start a Dutch company and fund its bank account with € 4,500. The company and funding are the main conditions for obtaining a visa for a period of two years, also for spouse and children.  

The level of bureaucracy for new businesses in the Netherlands is acceptable. Dutch company formationcan be handled in a week time without any governmental approvals or minimum capital required. Registration at the trade register costs a day and the VAT number is issued automatically. Many regions provide support to incoming companies with finding the right advisors, business partners, obtain work and residence permits for personnel coming over and other relevant matters such as finding a plot of land for production facilities and finding housing for personnel.The expat centers can in one stop handle visa requests and register expats at the municipality.

The corporate income tax rates in the Netherlands are lower than in the US. The tax returns are assessed by the Dutch tax authorities on a yearly basis. The personal income tax has progressive system similar as in the US. In the Netherlands the rates are substantially higher than in the US. There is relief as most expats are eligible for a 30% ruling for a period of five years. The 30% ruling requalifies the top 30% of your salary to expense compensation for additional expenses for living abroad. The ruling will bring the Dutch personal income tax to a level comparable to the US.

The rent prices and grocery prices in the Netherlands are lower than in the US.You will be able to convert your American drivers license into a Dutch drivers license. Dutch banks can ask many questions or even be hesitant to open a bank account to US persons because of the American FATCA regulations.

The language shall not be a problem. Most Dutch people’sbasic command of the English language is good. In case the business activities are also focusing on other parts of Europe, it will also not be a problem to find German, French, Spanish, Italian or even Russian speaking staff. The problem will be to learn Dutch when you plan to stay in the Netherlands for a longer period.Most people will start conversations with you in English, what limits your opportunities to practice Dutch.

The education level in the Netherlands is good and there is not much difference in the level of individual schools or universities. Private schools and universities are rare in the Netherlands. The large majority of the Dutch pupils and students attend solely public education. International school where the pupils follow education in English are an exemption. Under the 30% ruling the costs of international schools can be compensated by the employer without having the compensationqualified as personal income. 

Infrastructure and public transportationare at a good level, allowing day trips to cities as Paris, Frankfurt and London, limiting the time for commute and enable you to both choose for a life in the city or enjoy the quiet life in a suburb.Quality of life in general is good in the Netherlands. To finish off, the Netherlands is almost always in the top five of the annual publication of the Happiness report of the United Nationsbased on respondent ratings of their own lives. What stops you from expandingyour business to the Netherlands?

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