Netherlands 11 min

How to set up as an independent contractor in the Netherlands

Written by Ellen Sutton
Ellen Sutton


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Ready to take control of your career and make a living on your own terms?

Then the Netherlands is an ideal location to begin your self-employed journey.

With a vibrant and dynamic startup scene, an innovative spirit, and a famously laid-back lifestyle, you won't be short of freedom and opportunities. Independent contractors are celebrated, supported, and empowered to succeed here, while the capital Amsterdam is one of the world’s top destinations for remote work.

Before you get started, though, you’ll need to understand how to:

  • Register your business in the Netherlands

  • Avoid misclassification as an employee

  • Create compliant contracts that protect you

  • Invoice and collect payments from around the world

In this article, we’ll cover all these things. We’ll also help you navigate your tax obligations as a self-employed worker, and discuss some of the other risks and liabilities you should be aware of.

But first, it’s important to clarify how the Netherlands defines independent contractors.

What is an independent contractor according to Dutch law?

Independent contractors are workers who provide paid services to another party. However, they are classified differently to employees, and are not always entitled to the same benefits.

See also: Why businesses hire contractors vs. international employees

In the Netherlands, independent contractors and freelancers are known as “self-employed professionals without staff” (zelfstandige zonder personeel, or ZZP’ers). Under the country’s Employment Relationships Deregulation Act (DBA), you are generally considered a ZZP’er if you:

  • Determine your own work schedule

  • Perform work for other companies

  • Set your own rates

  • Are able to delegate or subcontract work

  • Set your own working hours

  • Work without direction or supervision

If you’re unsure about your status, you can contact the Dutch Tax and Customs Administration (Belastingdienst) for clarification. 

When setting up as an independent contractor, it’s important to be correctly classified to avoid penalties and fines.

Business registration in the Netherlands

To work as an independent contractor in the Netherlands, you’ll need to choose a legal structure for your business. Some of the most popular models include:

  • Sole proprietorship (eenmanszaak): A simple structure that is ideal for independent, individual contractors. You have full control of the enterprise, although there is no legal separation between you (the owner) and the business; you are personally responsible for all its debts and liabilities.

  • Commercial partnership (vof): A simple partnership agreement. Again, there is no legal separation between the individual and the business; you and your partners are personally responsible for any debts and liabilities.

  • Private limited company (bv): A formal, legal entity that is separate from you, the individual. All income and losses are attributed to the company as opposed to you personally.

There are pros and cons to each structure, but most independent contractors choose the sole proprietorship model, as it is fairly simple to set up and operate. If you’re unsure, the Netherlands Chamber of Commerce (KVK) has a short test you can take to identify the most suitable structure.

If you do opt for this model, you’ll need to choose a name and then register your business with the KVK. You can fill in the forms online, but to finalize your registration, you’ll need to make an appointment at your local KVK office.

Once this step is complete, you will receive a Standard Business Classification (SBI) code. This code is based on your business activity, and can influence your insurance premiums, bank loan eligibility, and permit requirements.

The KVK will also inform the Tax and Customs Administration that you are now self-employed.

How do I get paid as an independent contractor in the Netherlands?

As an independent contractor, it’s down to you to handle your invoices and payment collection. Unfortunately, this means billing each client individually and collecting payment through their preferred payment method — which can be inefficient and time-consuming.

Some of the most common ways to collect payments include:

  • Bank transfers

  • Direct deposits

  • Paper checks

  • Money orders

  • Virtual wallets

  • Digital transfer services like PayPal and Wise

These methods all have their own pros and cons. For instance, bank and digital transfers can be quick but often come with hefty service fees. And if you have clients in other countries besides the Netherlands, the payment collection process can be even more complicated. 

Alternatively, you can use a trusted solution like Remote. Our platform is a simple, secure, and reliable way to get paid quickly in euros — and with no hidden fees. Learn more about how our platform can help.

Independent contractor taxes in the Netherlands

As an independent contractor, you’re also responsible for paying your own taxes and social contributions. Like most countries, the Netherlands has a progressive income tax rate that indicates how much you will owe.

If you are a sole proprietor, you pay income tax on your business profits (inkomstenbelasting). You must file your tax return before May 1 using your tax ID; the Tax and Customs Administration will then calculate how much you need to pay. The KVK also provides a handy tax calculator (in Dutch) to help you generate an estimate.

You are also required to make health insurance contributions to the state (ZFW), even if you are already making private health insurance contributions. This is calculated and paid as part of your income tax.

On the plus side, you may be eligible for several tax breaks. You can claim a sizeable entrepreneur allowance (ondernemersaftrek) in your tax return if you:

  • Work for your company for at least 1,225 hours per year (800 hours if you have a long-term occupational disability)

  • Spend more than 50% of your working time working for your company

As in most countries, you can also claim deductions for multiple business expenses, such as:

  • Insurance premiums

  • Advertising and marketing costs

  • Education and training

  • Uniforms and equipment

  • Travel costs

VAT information for independent contractors in the Netherlands

In the Netherlands, almost all businesses must charge value added tax (VAT), regardless of their legal structure.

When you initially register your business, the Tax and Customs Administration will determine your VAT obligations. In most cases, you will need to charge clients at the standard Dutch VAT rate of 21%, although some goods and services are charged at a lower rate of 9%. 

Some goods and services are exempt from VAT entirely, such as:

  • Healthcare services

  • Financial and insurance services

  • Educational services

  • Sports organizations and clubs

  • Care services and home care

If your annual turnover is less than €20,000, you don’t need to charge VAT. Note, too, that if you are supplying goods or services to clients outside of the Netherlands, different VAT rules apply.

Liability considerations for independent contractors in the Netherlands

As a sole proprietor, you are personally liable for finance and tax debts, which means your private assets can be forcibly used to settle your business debts. Many independent contractors purchase liability insurance to help mitigate this risk.

When starting out as a sole proprietor, the KVK recommends taking out several types of insurance, including business liability, professional indemnity, and disability insurance.

It’s also important to cover yourself when drafting and signing agreements with clients. Our legal experts can provide you with fully compliant contract templates, for both Dutch and international clients.

Accounting requirements for independent contractors in the Netherlands

As a sole proprietor, you do not need to publish financial statements. However, you are required to keep business records for at least seven years, including:

  • Invoices

  • Transaction statements

  • Cash flow records

  • Business contracts and correspondence

  • Time tracking records (you will need this information to claim the entrepreneur's allowance)

  • Travel records

You can manage your bookkeeping records digitally or on paper. You can also discuss how detailed your record keeping needs to be with the Tax and Customs Administration.

The dangers of contractor misclassification in the Netherlands

As we’ve mentioned, independent contractors are classified differently to employees. Many of the protections and benefits employees enjoy do not typically apply to contractors.

As a result, companies may deliberately misclassify you to circumvent their legal obligations (known as false employment), while at other times, it may happen accidentally. In the Netherlands, the Tax and Customs Administration regularly checks working arrangements. If they suspect false employment — intentional or otherwise — you and your client can both receive fines and penalties.

As an independent contractor, you can work with your clients to ensure this doesn’t happen. Discuss your role and responsibilities with them, and review the working arrangement regularly. If you’re still not sure what you should be classified as, you can contact the Tax and Customs Administration to draft an agreement.

If your working relationship changes over time, and you become more integrated into a client’s company, you can ask to be converted into an employee.

How do I ask the company I’m working with to convert me to an employee in the Netherlands?

Open a dialogue with your client and carefully discuss the risks and benefits of moving to an employer-employee relationship. In particular, be clear about how it can benefit both parties — not just you.

You can even suggest the help of a third-party solution, such as Remote, to ease the transition. Our global employment services help both parties stay compliant by taking care of key HR functions (like payroll management and benefits administration) in line with Dutch law. Remote can help even if your client isn’t based in the Netherlands.

Note that the law around misclassification is due to change in 2025, and will supersede the existing Employment Relationships Deregulation Act (DBA). The new legislation aims to create a fairer balance between contractors and employees and provide more clarity on working arrangements.

4 ways Remote makes life easier for contractors and their clients

As you can see, there’s a lot to take on board when setting up as an independent contractor. Remote can help you with many of these challenges, allowing you to focus on growing your business and delivering to your clients. Here’s how:

1. International payments in countries around the world

Navigating all of your clients’ different invoicing, approvals, and payment systems can be complicated and time-consuming. And manual methods of invoicing and collecting payments can increase the risk of fees, errors, and delays.

Remote gives you access to a highly secure, streamlined dashboard that makes invoice management and international payments cost-effective and efficient. You can use our platform to get paid in euros hassle-free, without any hidden fees.

2. Localized in-app contracts and advice

When you draft agreements and contracts for your clients, you run the risk of non-compliance with local labor laws — especially when working with international clients. Remote offers localized contracts tailored to Dutch laws, ensuring that you stay compliant. Our legal experts can also provide guidance on complex issues, such as local classification and intellectual property protections.

3. Invoicing automation

With Remote, you no longer need to rely on spreadsheets and other manual tools to invoice for payments; we remove many of the inaccuracies and delays caused by archaic processes and manual management. Our platform lets you create invoices, submit them for approval, and subsequently get paid in your local currency without needing to switch to any other tool or software.

4. Tax management

Tax management is notoriously complex work. Remote helps you quickly and efficiently deal with tax management by compiling data about your income based on your invoices and payments received.

Setting up as an independent contractor in the Netherlands

Having the freedom and flexibility to work on your own terms is liberating. But your administrative responsibilities can distract from what you really want to be doing: helping your clients, delivering great work, and collecting invoices.

By using a stable, trusted platform like Remote, you can manage these obligations quickly and efficiently, allowing you to focus on your business goals. Specifically, we can help you:

  • Avoid intermediary fees and delays with international client payments

  • Draft compliant contracts for Canadian and foreign clients

  • Enhance your invoice management and avoid manual processes

  • Comply with local labor laws regarding work practices

Our platform makes it quick, simple, and seamless to get started as an independent contractor. Learn more about how our expertise can save you time and resources today.

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