Netherlands Self-Employment and Start-Up Visas
The Netherlands offers two potential residence visa routes for start-up founders: the “Start-Up Scheme” and the “Self-Employment Scheme”.
The Self-Employment Scheme – This route allows a third-country national to obtain a temporary residence permit to set up an “innovative enterprise”. In order to gain entry to the Netherlands, the third-country national will have to obtain enough points for personal experience, their business plan and the benefit of their enterprise to the national economy.
The Start-Up Scheme – This route allows third-country nationals to obtain a temporary residence permit to set up an innovative business in the Netherlands. The condition of this visa is that a reliable coach (facilitator) in the Netherlands must coach the third-country national.
For both visa routes, it is a condition that the new enterprise serve an “essential Dutch interest”. The following areas have been identified by the Dutch government as being the type of businesses that the Netherland’s is trying to attract:
- Creative industry;
- Agriculture and food;
- Life sciences & health;
- High tech.
Both schemes can lead to Permanent Residence (PR) or naturalisation after 5 years continuous residence. However, the Start-Up Scheme cannot directly lead to PR or naturalisation, you must switch onto the Self-Employment Scheme after 1 year.
The Self-Employment Programme – In order to meet the requirements for this route you will need to:
- perform work as a self-employed person, which serves an essential Dutch interest (as set out above);
- make a sufficient livelihood from the performance of work in that role in a sustainable and independent manner; and
- meet the eligibility requirements for the performance of that work and the requirements for conducting the business in question (if applicable) (Article 3.30(1) Aliens Decree 2000).
You will also have to meet the criteria of the points based system. The scoring system consists of three parts:
- Personal experience (education, entrepreneurship and work experience);
- Business plan (market analysis, product/service, price, organisation, financing); and
- Added value for the Netherlands (innovation, employment creation, investments).
The parts together consist of 300 available points. You must have a minimum of 90 points (30 points in each section) to qualify for the residence permit (Section 3.20a & Annex 8a Foreigners Regulations 2000).
The Start-Up Programme – In order to meet the requirements for this route you will have to:
- Demonstrate that you will be able to set up an innovative company in the Netherlands of which one of the following aspects is applicable:(a) the product or service must be new for the Netherlands;
(b) new technology has been used in production, distribution and marketing; and
(c) there is an innovative organisational structure and working method.
- Enter into cooperation with a Dutch facilitator. A facilitator is a mentoring party that provides the start-up entrepreneur with a tailor-made package, depending on the mentoring the starting entrepreneur needs. A facilitator can be an incubator or accelerator and recognised examples can be found at: https://english.rvo.nl/find-facilitator. However, generally a facilitator is any legal person which meets the following conditions:(a) The facilitator must have experience in guiding innovative start-ups.
(b) The facilitator must be financially stable.
(c) The facilitator may not, in any case, be in receivership or bankrupt and must have no negative equity.
(d) The facilitator may not have a majority interest in the start-up company.
(e) The facilitator may not be a family member up to the third degree. This means they cannot be a child, parent, grandparent or aunt/uncle of the start-up entrepreneur.The further requirements are:
- You and your chosen facilitator must be entered in the Commercial Register of the Chamber of Commerce (KVK)
- You must intend to perform self-employed work for that company;
- You must have sufficient means of subsistence (from 1 July 2020 until 31 December 2020 this is €1,270.08 for the main applicant or €3,360 if you are living with your partner); and
- You must prove that you will be able to meet the conditions applicable for the Self-Employment within a year from the grant of the temporary residence permit (Article 3.30(1) & (6) Aliens Decree 2000).
STEP 1 – Complete the MVV and Start-Up or Self-Employment application forms, gather your supporting documents and make an appointment at your local Dutch embassy or consulate online.
STEP 2 – Attend your appointment and submit the relevant supporting documents. The processing time for the MVV is between 1-10 working days. When you submit your application you will receive a “track and trace code” so that you can check when to collect your MVV. Once received, your MVV will be valid for 90 days.
STEP 3 – Travel to the Netherlands. Once you have arrived, your residence permit should be ready for collection within 2 weeks. You should make an appointment online to attend the IND desk to collect your permit. You must also:
· register in the Municipal Personal Records Database (BRP) in the municipality in which you are going to live, you will need a translated copy of your birth certificate in order to register;
· have a TB test, if you are from one of the countries where this is required (you must attend an appointment within 3 months of arrival in the Netherlands); and
· take out comprehensive health insurance, you must do this within 4 months of your arrival in the Netherlands.
Pathway to Citizenship
STAGE 1 – The Start-Up Scheme is only valid for a period of 1 year and cannot be extended. If you are on the Start-Up Scheme you will need to switch to the Self-Employment Scheme. In order to switch, you will need to meet the criteria of the Self-Employment Scheme. The Netherland’s government have made it easy for a Start-Up Scheme business to meet the points criteria for the Self-Employment Scheme, you will need to submit a declaration issued by the facilitator who has supervised your start-up for at least three months, stating that the counselling they have provided has led to a successful conclusion. This declaration is worth 30 points in each section of the application for the Self-Employment Scheme (Annex 8a Aliens Regulations 2000).
STAGE 2 – If you have been issued a Self-Employment Scheme temporary residence card it will be valid for a period of 2 years. 3 months before the expiry of the initial term you must submit an application for an extension. A further residence permit will be granted so long as you continue to meet the conditions set out at the grant of your initial residence permit. It may take up to 6 months for a decision on your application. The term of this residence permit will be valid for a maximum of 5 years.
STAGE 3 – After 5 years continuous residence on either both the Start-Up and Self-Employment residence permits or just the Self-Employment residence permit, you can apply for PR. In order to obtain PR, you must continue meet the requirements set out at the grant of your initial residence permit. You must have also obtained a civic integration diploma which will show that you are able to read, write, speak and understand sufficient Dutch (Level A2).
STAGE 4 – After 5 years, you also have the option of applying for Dutch citizenship. In order to apply, you must have obtained the civic integration diploma (as above), you must renounce your current nationality (you may not be a dual national (unless one of the exemptions apply) and you must take the declaration of solidarity.
Your dependents may also apply for PR or naturalisation after 5 years continuous residence in the Netherlands. Any children must be over the age of 18 to apply for naturalisation.
Documents You Will Need
The Self-Employment Programme – supporting documents
For the self-employment scheme you will need these supporting documents for the visa application:
- Your valid passport or other travel document;
- MVV application form;
- “Application for a residence permit with the purpose of residence ‘to work on a self-employed basis’” application form;
- Degree certificate;
- CV outlining entrepreneurial experience (and annual accounts, proof of function within enterprise etc. if relevant)
- References from former employers for any work experience;
- Tax assessment document, annual accounts, annual salary statement etc. to prove gross incomes 12 months prior to the application; and
- Your business plan.
The business plan must contain information on:
- the potential market i.e. products/service (e.g.. features, applications, demand, unique selling point), market analysis (i.e. market survey, potential customers, competition, market barriers, risks, marketing/promotion), price (i.e. clear pricing target based on integral cost calculation;
- organisation i.e. analysis of relevance of proposed structure, competences, knowledge and skills for product and service;
- financing i.e. solvency ratio and liquidity forecast;
- innovation (as described above);
- creation of labour;
- investments (Annex 8a Foreigners Regulations 2000).
N.B. There are also an additional 30 points on offer for a highly educated person who has a thorough business plan (Annex 8a Aliens Regulations 2000).
The Start-Up Programme – supporting documents
You will need the following documents:
1. Your valid passport or other travel document;
2. MVV application form;
· A completed “Application for the purpose of residence ‘Start-up’ working on a self-employed basis (foreign national)” visa form;
· Evidence of registration in the Commercial Register;
· A “step-by-step plan” – you must present a step-by-step plan, from which it is evident what your role is in the start-up and the further structure of your organisation, the roles and duties, the legal form, personnel and object of the company. In addition, the idea for the product or service the start-up will offer must be explained. The innovative nature provided by the product or service must be dealt with in this regard. Finally, the planning and activities (steps) you will take in the first year must be specified;
· Agreement between you and the facilitator signed by both parties – this agreement must discuss the nature of the mentoring and information on any interest of the facilitator in the company (there may not be a majority interest);
· Proof of the reliability and expertise of the facilitator (unless the Netherlands Enterprise Agency has given a positive advice on the facilitator in the year preceding the application), this may include presenting annual accounts, audit opinions and bank statements to prove the facilitator is financially stable; and
· Bank statements or similar proving that you have sufficient funds in your account to support yourself and any dependents.
N.B. You will also need a translated copy of your birth certificate once you arrive in the Netherlands to register your address for either route.
Can I bring my family members?
Yes, you can bring your spouse or civil partner or a child under 18 for both the Start-Up and Self-Employment Schemes. They must each submit an “Application for the purpose of residence of ‘family and relatives’ (foreign national)” form and an MVV form. They will be granted the same residence status as you, but they will be able to do any work not just for the start-up company.
Fee for Self-Employment Resident Permit application: €1379
Fee for Start-Up Visa Resident Permit application: €333
Fee for switching onto Self-Employment Resident Permit from Start-Up Resident Permit: €369
Extension of Self Employment Resident Permit: €369
Spouse or Civil Partner and Child:
Fee for first application and extension application to stay with family member: €174 for an adult and €58 for a child over 18
PR application: €174 for an adult €58 for a child under 18
Five-yearly renewal of PR permit: €58 for an adult €31 for a child under 18
For just 1 person (i.e. you as a sole applicant): €901
Request for naturalisation together with a partner: €1150
Child under 18 together with a parent: €133
I have a separate note on the law governing the Netherland’s start-up and self-employment visa programs.