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How to incorporate a BV in the Netherlands

Last updated: 10-01-2020

The Dutch B.V. is the most frequently used legal entity in the Netherlands for conducting business activities.

In 2012 Dutch company law was simplified as a result of which the procedure to incorporate a Dutch BV has become more easier and the cost of incorporation have significantly reduced. For instance, there is no longer a minimum capital requirement and also the requirement to provide for a bank statement upon incorporation has been abolished. It is now technically possible to incorporate overnight.  

Moreover, the BV is still one of the most popular entities to be used as a holding, financing or royalty company in international structures, and with the abolishment of the obligatory "blocking clause" in 2012 (which prohibited the free transfer of shares) is has also become a very suitable legal form for an investment fund.  

Below we will explain the incorporation procedure of a Dutch BV, and elaborate on the key issues to be considered when setting up a Dutch BV. We will conclude with an overview of the services which we can provide to you in this respect.    

You can find the following information on this page: 

Legal form of a Dutch BV
Substance requirements for a Dutch BV

The potential dual tax residence issue/ "effective management"

Involvement public notary
Minimum capital requirement for a Dutch BV 
Pre-incorporation period 
The incorporation procedure of a Dutch BV
Identification
Opening bank account
Time frame for the incorporation of a Dutch BV
Registration of the BV in the Trade Register

Registration of the Ultimate Beneficial Owners of the BV

Registration with tax authorities 
Registration, administration and filing requirements of a Dutch BV
Cost of incorporation

What can we do for you ?  and How to proceed

Please contact us if you wish to receive a concrete fee quote for the incorporation of a BV.

You can use our contact form for this purpose, or you can call us at our offices in Rotterdam +31 (0)10 2010466 or Amsterdam +31 (0)20 5709440. 

Legal form of a Dutch BV

A "BV' is a private company with limited liability; in Dutch: "Besloten Vennootschap met beperkte aansprakelijkheid". In comparison to other jurisdictions, the BV has similar features as the German "GmbH", the American "LLC", or the English "Ltd".

The BV has legal personality and it has an equity divided into shares.

A BV can only have registered shares, but these shares can be freely transferable; since 1 October 2012 transfer restrictions (like the "blocking clause") are no longer obligatory, although still possible and allowed.

The shareholders of a BV are - in general - not personally liable for acts performed in the name or on behalf of the BV, nor can they be obliged to make more funds available than that part of the capital for which they have subscribed.

Statutory directors can be held liable for "acts of bad management" ("onbehoorlijk bestuur"), or the forsaking of certain legal obligations of the BV such as applying certain tests before distributing dividends (statutory directors may also be held liable if the BV makes a distribution of reserves (dividend) or paid in capital and the BV cannot comply to its financial obligations in the year following the distribution), the timely filing and publication of the BV's financials statements in the Trade Register, etc. 

BVs are allowed to denominate their share capital in another currency than the euro.

Special classes of shares are possible, including shares without voting rights or profit rights.

Substance requirements for a Dutch BV

There are no legal requirements for a BV to have substance in the Netherlands. The only legal requirement is that the BV has a Dutch registered address. 

The BV can only have foreign directors and shareholders, and there must always be at least one shareholder, and one director, which can however be the same person (or legal entity).

The potential dual tax residence issue/ "effective management"

From a tax perspective it is in particular for international holding, financing and licensing companies recommendable to have a majority of Dutch resident directors. This is generally perceived as the minimum substance requirement for such companies to avoid dual tax residence issues and to qualify for treaty benefits.

For operational companies this risk is generally more remote, considered the local presence of the business in the Netherlands.     

The primary parameter for determining the tax residence of a BV (/corporation) corporation is the official registration as a tax resident. Once your BV is incorporated, it will by its nature be considered a Dutch tax resident by the Dutch tax authorities (incorporation principle).

However, when a foreign tax authority can make a case that the “place of effective management” of the BV is actually situated in their country, they may try to tax the BV as if it were a tax resident of that country. This is a generally accepted principle of international taxation.

Most tax treaties concluded by the Netherlands provide that in case both treaty countries claim tax residency of the BV, it will for the application of the tax treaty deemed to be a tax resident of the country where its "effective management" is situated.

 The term “effective management” is a technical term, and basically refers to the place from where the key management decisions of a corporation are taken. This does not necessarily be the place where the business is ran and managed, and it does not persé be the same place where the day to day (routine) management decisions of the corporation are taken.

An important factor for determining where the place of effective management of a corporation is located is the place of residence of the decision making director, and in case of more than one director, the place of residence of the majority of the directors. This is an important parameter although not the most important one: the place of effective management is the place where the actual management is exercised, which does not necessarily have to coincide with place of residence of the director(s).

For every company that operates internationally, senior management can be resident everywhere and be travelling all over the place. It is then quite inevitable that management decisions will have to be taken remotely, by e-mail, telephone, etc. However, in order to avoid dual tax residency issues referred to above, it is import that the center of all this activity with regard the affairs of the BV is located in the Netherlands.

Other factors relevant factors for determining the effective place of management are

  1. country of incorporation
  2. location registered office
  3. location personnel
  4. location physical office
  5. main bank account
  6. bookkeeping

As stated above the BV can have only foreign based directors. Ideally this person would become a Dutch tax resident. If this is not feasible or desired, the "effective place of management" will still be considered the Netherlands provided the foreign director is in the Netherlands on a regular basis manage the affairs of the BV, and to attend board meetings, shareholders meetings, etc.

There are also parties in the market place which offer domiciliation (registered address) and management services (statutory directors). See also the page "Management and  Trust Services".   

We have an extensive network of professional and reliable service providers which render the aforementioned services. We only work with parties who have experience with the international business practice and have proven to deliver quality for money. We can refer you to suitable parties or co-ordinate their input, if you prefer.  

Involvement public notary

The incorporation procedure of a BV requires the involvement of a Dutch public notary.

Under normal circumstances the incorporation can be done by proxy, so that personal attendance of the directors or shareholders is not required.

We have special arrangements with public notaries for the incorporation of (standard) BV’s, based on fixed prices. We have agreed on variety of “standard” articles of incorporation which provide all standard provisions suitable for acting as an internationally operating company of a certain nature: the articles will have to be tailored to the activities of the company.

The articles will be (and must be) drafted in the Dutch language, but we will provide a translation into English.

Minimum capital requirement for a Dutch BV

There is no minimum capital requirement for a Dutch BV.

Pre-incorporation period  

As soon as the incorporation procedure is started up, it is already possible to do business in the name of the BV. The BV should then however first be registered as a "BV in incorporation" with the Chamber of Commerce. Until the incorporation procedure is completed the "BV in incorporation" is in fact a branch/partnership of the incorporator(s).

On incorporation, the company must ratify all the transactions the founders entered into in the pre-incorporation period. The directors/incorporators are personally and jointly liable for acts performed during the pre-incorporation period until ratification by the BV.

The incorporation procedure of a Dutch BV 

The following steps are required to incorporate the BV:

Step 1: Fee proposal and confirmation fee quote

On the basis of your specific wishes and requirements we will issue a fixed fee quote for the turnkey deliverance of the BV.  

Before we can start up the incorporation process we will need confirmation that you agree with our fee quote. This can be done by return e-mail.

For UBO clearance, we will need to receive information and documentation on the party which we should consider our client. Usually this is the incorporator of the BV. If so, the information and documentation required for the incorporation will cover most of our needs in this respect.

Upon receipt of your approval we will ask you to pay a retainer fee as an advance on the work to be done by us and the public notary. After receipt of this retainer fee we will proceed with step 2.

Step 2: Request for required information and documentation

We will provide you with a list of information and documentation required to start up the incorporation process.

Copy passports and some of the documents requested may have be legalized with apostille. The legalization of passports can also be done face to face but will then require a personal visit to our offices or the offices of our public notary.     

Step 3: Provide draft Powers of Attorney and sign off of incorporation documents

After we have processed the required information we will provide you with the draft articles of incorporation of the BV and the forms and documents which will need to be provided by you for completion of the incorporation.

Step 4: Completion of the incorporation

Upon receipt of your approval of the articles and the signed documents/forms referred to above, the BV can technically be incorporated.

Step 5: Registration with the Chamber of Commerce and the Dutch tax office

The final step of the incorporation process is the registration of the BV with the Chamber of Commerce and the tax authorities

Identification

We will require certified/legalized copies of the passports of the future directors of the BV, the incorporator(s) if individuals, and UBO's with a qualifying interest.

If the incorporator(s) and future director(s) are individuals, the legalization can be done at the office of the public notary. If the incorporation is to be done remotely, a qualifying third party will need to legalize the documents.

If the incorporator is a corporation, we will require a legal opinion on the existence of this corporation and the person (director) representing the corporation.

Opening bank account

For a BV, no minimum capital requirement applies anymore, and hence, the BV does from a legal perspective does no longer require a (Dutch) bank account. However, it will in practice be very difficult, if not virtually impossible, to operate a BV without a bank account. 

The bank account does not necessarily be a Dutch bank account, but a foreign bank account only will complicate the daily operations of the BV.  

During the last couple of years the Dutch banks have become more stringent with regard to the procedure for opening a Dutch bank account. It is in any case required that the director(s) attend to the bank in person, identify themselves and fill out the necessary forms. Furthermore the banks tend to be quite critical towards the BV's business model, its actual presence/ substance in the Netherlands and the necessity for having a Dutch bank account. 

We have close contacts with the major international banks in the Netherlands (like ING, ABN-AMRO, Rabobank, Deutsche Bank) and we can co-ordinate this procedure for you.

Time frame for the incorporation of a Dutch BV

The total incorporation procedure for a Dutch BV can normally be completed in a couple of days. 

For the entire procedure, including the gathering of necessary information and documentation, in our experience you should consider a period of one to two weeks. We emphasize that an accelerated procedure is possible.

As an alternative for an incorporation procedure, one may consider to acquire a shelf company

Registration of the BV in the Trade Register

Upon incorporation the BV will be registered in the Trade register of the Chamber of Commerce. 

The Chamber of Commerce keeps the Trade Register which contains information about all BVs (and other business entities) incorporated and/or registered in the Netherlands, like statutory name, date of incorporation, registered address, name and authority of directors.

It is noted that also the name and address of 100% shareholders is included in the Trade Register. If it is not desired to disclose the identity of the shareholder, it is recommendable to arrange for shares to be held by a Dutch or foreign third party.

The information in the Trade Register is freely accessible by the public. In day to day business the Trade Register is an important source of information for possible business partners and it is common practice in the Netherlands that the Trade Register is consulted before doing business.

Registration of the Ultimate Beneficial Owners of the BV

On the basis of fourth EU Anti-money Laundering Directive the UBO register must be in force by the 10th of January 2020, but this is still not the case. Dutch Parliament is still to adopt the bill of law introducing the UBO register. 

The Dutch UBO register will contain information about UBO's holding an direct or indirect interest of 25% or more in a Dutch BV (or other qualifying Dutch entity). Only part of this information will be accessible by the public.  

Registration with tax authorities  

The B.V. needs to be registered with the Dutch tax authorities and also with the social insurance office if any employees are to be hired or assigned within the group. 

The tax registration will in essence be done automatically with the first registration of the BV with the Chamber of Commerce. For obtaining the VAT number in most cases a separate request for registration is required.

We can monitor the registration process for you to ensure proper registration.  

Administration and filing requirements of a Dutch BV

In essence every Dutch BV has the ongoing obligation to keep and maintain an administration, to register for tax purposes and to file periodical tax returns.

The administration forms the basis for the preparation of the annual financial statements according to Dutch GAAP. This can also be done also on the basis of IFRS, but then a statutory audit will be required. 

After the end of the year the General Meeting of Shareholders should approve of the Financial Statements as presented by the board of directors and discharge the board for any liability in this respect.

An abbreviated version of the Financial Statements must be filed with the Dutch Chamber of Commerce for publication in the Trade Register. The Trade Register is accessible by the public.

It depends on the nature of the activities of the BV for which taxes the BV must be registered and which periodical tax returns need to be filed. Most BVs are subject to Dutch corporate income tax and VAT and, if they have employees, Dutch wage tax.   

We offer a full compliance package for foreign owned Dutch BVs, including: 

  • administration
  • corporate secretarial
  • payroll and employer's assistance
  • VAT services and compliance
  • corporate income tax compliance

Cost of incorporation

The cost of incorporation depends on various parameters such as volume nominal capital, number of incorporators/ directors, required special provisions in the articles, etc.    

The all-in cost of incorporating a standard BV is around € 1,000 to € 2,500 (VAT excluded), which includes English translations of the articles of incorporation/association.  Our fees for set up advice, co-ordination, etc. will depend on time spent. If no special circumstances occur they usually vary between € 500 and € 1,500 (excl. VAT) per incorporation.

We have trusted relationships with various public notaries. We only work with parties who have experience with the international business practice and have proven to deliver quality for money. We can refer you to suitable parties or co-ordinate the incorporation process on your behalf.     

What can we do for you ?

We are engaged on a daily basis by non-residents (corporations and individuals) who want to incorporate a Dutch BV. 

It usually starts with an inventory of the plans for the BV and the potential tax consequences and tax compliance requirements. Once the decision to set up the BV has been taken, we can execute and arrange for the incorporation on your behalf.

To the extent required we can further co-ordinate the input of other parties involved (like banks, lawyers, etc.) and make sure that the incorporation process goes smoothly and efficiently.  

Once the BV has been set up we can monitor the tax registration and handle the administration, payroll and ongoing tax compliance matters. 

The services we provide include:

Advice on corporate law and tax issues linked to the incorporation
Advice on appropriate legal form
Coordinate the incorporation procedure
Advice on the tax efficiency of the structure
Negotiation of an advance tax ruling
Deal with registration requirements
Employer's assistance and payroll services
Accounting and tax compliance
Ongoing support on administrative, legal and tax matters

We are gladly prepared to co-ordinate and to assist you with the incorporation process of your BV and handle the associated registration and filing requirements.

If you wish to receive more information, please feel free to contact us via e-mail or call us at our office in Rotterdam +31 (0)10 2010466 or Amsterdam +31 (0)20 5709440 for more information. 

We will make time for you!