The Beginner’s Guide to Freelancing in The Netherlands

23 November 2021

You’ve decided to start freelancing in the Netherlands, or maybe you’re considering registering as a freelancer in the near future? This article sums up everything you need to know about freelancing in the Netherlands.

This article is brought to you by our partner Blue Ninja. 

Freelancing is a great way to generate some extra income. Whether you’re freelancing full time or as a side income stream, freelancing brings plenty of learning and growth opportunities on top of the earning potential. Besides that, you’re also in charge of your own hours, so you can run things however you like.

If you feel you would enjoy the freelance lifestyle, the Netherlands has a great culture for freelancers. In 2019, over 1.6 million people in the Netherlands received some income from their self-employment activities. Almost a million of them declare freelancing as their main source of income.

Do you already know what kind of goods and services you want to provide? For some inspiration, you could consider some of the following freelancing ideas:

  • Monetise a skill by offering a service
  • Teach a skill
  • (Make and) sell something

What could you do to help make people’s lives better? Listen closely and you might come across some inspiration.

Registration at the Chamber of Commerce

Before you register at the Chamber of Commerce (in Dutch: Kamer van Koophandel, KvK), you first need to determine what legal structure you would like for your business. 

If you are planning on working alone, the choice is fairly simple: you can register as a sole proprietor (eenmanzaak / zzp).

If you would like to work with other partners, you can consider a general partnership, or VOF. Working with partners increases the responsibilities and risks involved in doing business. It is advisable to create a partnership agreement with your partners in a VOF. 

Lastly, you can register as a limited liability company (B.V.). This is advisable if you have a high level of turnover or need a lot of financing from loans and/or investors. Compared to the previous two legal structures, a B.V. is more complicated to set up and requires more resources to manage. 

As your business grows and expands, you can always change business structures later.

Freelancer vs Self-employed

A freelancer is more known for working alone. Quite often, this means being registered as a zelfstandige zonder personeel (ZZP) or eenmanzaak at the Chamber of Commerce (KvK).

A self-employed person could mean a number of things – but generally applies to people who own a business. Yes, a freelancer could refer to themselves as self-employed. With this definition, you also could consider startup owners and business owners as self-employed people, regardless of their legal structure.

Freelancer vs ZZP

The terms freelancer and zzp’er can be used interchangeably. The ZZP is a legal structure adopted by the freelancer. 

Other terms that you may hear are eenmanzaak (sole proprietorship), entrepreneur, ondernemer (Dutch for entrepreneur), or simply the job function that the freelancer carries out (example: I’m a consultant)

Freelancer vs Contractor

A freelancer typically works for multiple clients at one time. A contractor can have the same legal structure as a freelancer, but often works for only one company for a long period of time. Typically, a freelancer has more control over their working hours, while a contractor may have to adapt to the hours of the company hiring them.

Freelancing as an employee

Are you looking to make extra income next to your full time job? First, you need to check your contract to ensure that you are allowed to engage in other income generating activities. Some contracts may also carry non-competition clauses.

Once you have that cleared up, you can register at the KvK and start freelancing! 

It’s important to remember, to know your working capacity, be consistent with your effort and still set healthy working boundaries for yourself.

Taxes

Having to deal with taxes is a big topic when starting a business. As a freelancer, there are 2 types of taxes to pay attention to: BTW and Income Tax.

BTW is the Dutch version of Value-added Tax (VAT). The BTW rate in the Netherlands is 21% and is charged to all sales made in the Netherlands. There are several exceptions where you do not have to charge VAT.

You must declare and pay VAT every quarter.

Income tax is tax paid on your gross income (income once all costs are reduced). Income tax is paid once a year in the spring, between March 1 and April 30. The amount of income tax you pay depends on your turnover. 

Read more about taxes on the website of the Belastingdienst (Tax Authorities) 

Freelancing with no Experience

Are you concerned about not having enough experience? When it comes to freelancing, it’s important to show you can bring results. It may be an idea to start a few projects on your own, then showcase the results in a portfolio.

The most important thing is to get started. You’ll learn as you go.

What’s Next?

If you want to set up a business, but don’t know where to start, we have compiled a short course so you can get started. We understand that there are a lot of things to pay attention to. This course covers topics such as registering a business in the Netherlands, setting up a bank account, finding the right people, and so on.

Make sure you get everything right the first time and save over 30 hours of scrambling for information on the internet. Click here to learn more.