Skip to main content

Doing Business in the Netherlands: An Innovative and Competitive Environment

Veronica Gunther, executive director in the Netherlands, and Arno Vink, EMEA service leader for Global Capital Markets, discuss the Netherlands’ appeal to major international businesses and investors.

Fifteen of the world’s top 20 agri-food companies—such as Nestlé, Coca-Cola, Unilever, and Kraft Heinz—have major production or R&D operations in the Netherlands.[1] At the same time, the country is home to one of the world’s most concentrated life sciences and healthcare clusters—including more than 3,100 companies engaged in life sciences research and development—and 420 biopharmaceutical businesses.[2] The Netherlands is also host to chemical, petroleum refining, and financial services.

In other words, this is a small country that roars. The Netherlands is home to just 17 million people but is the sixth-largest economy in the eurozone and the regional hub for many of the world’s largest multinational groups.[3]

In our recent “Doing Business in the Netherlands” webinar, the second in our in-depth and insightful international series, we explored the secrets of the country’s success.

The Netherlands’ infrastructure and location offer a European gateway

The Netherlands is a beneficiary of its geography, sharing borders with Germany, Belgium (land), and the U.K. (water), connecting Europe’s largest economies. For that reason, it’s considered ideally placed for international businesses that want to expand across the continent. The Netherlands attracts companies from a range of industries that need a northern-European distribution hub.

While geography is important, the Netherlands has made the most of its good fortune. The World Bank rates it second in the world for logistics performance, thanks to both its location and excellent infrastructure.[4] For example, Rotterdam is Europe’s largest seaport.[5] Amsterdam Schiphol is Europe’s third-busiest airport.[6]

Forward thinking: The Netherlands economy

The Dutch economy is forward thinking and driven by science and technology. As well as being a center for life science and pharmaceutical research, the country is a leader in agricultural efficiency.

Its focus on precision farming has made a small northern European nation the world’s second-biggest exporter of tomatoes[7] and the second-largest exporter of agricultural products overall.[8] And, of course, you can get as many tulips from Amsterdam as anyone could possibly want.

The government encourages innovation through incentives and infrastructure investment. For example, The Netherlands has one of the highest rates of broadband penetration in the world.[9] It’s also a leading light on the march to sustainability. The government is committed to providing 75% of electricity through renewable sources by 2030.[10] To that end, the Netherlands is home to one of the largest offshore wind farms and the largest floating solar-energy park in Europe.

Starting a business in the Netherlands

All these are good reasons to invest in the Netherlands, and it’s generally easy to do so.

Businesses need to register with the Chamber of Commerce and relevant tax authorities. It takes less than four days to set up a business, which is much faster than the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) average.[11]

Nearly everyone in the Netherlands speaks English, and in Amsterdam, English can be used as a means of everyday communication. However, it’s worth noting that most publications and administrative documents must use Dutch. That’s one reason to enlist the support of a local partner, but there are a number of others.

Most importantly, newcomers can find Dutch tax and legal systems challenging to navigate. The interconnection of national and European law requires local expertise. New investments need the right structure—and in the Netherlands, there’s a wide range to choose from. Entities can be set up as limited companies, partnerships, foundations, branch offices, or orphan structures. Each structure requires different regulatory treatment.

Legal entities are, among others, subject to both the Dutch Civil Code and E.U. anti-money laundering (AML) directives. Specific licenses are required for some activities and E.U. securitization reporting is a complex ongoing responsibility.

An expert local partner can guide businesses through these complexities and help them take advantage of the opportunities available.

The Netherlands’ innovation drives investment

All told, the Netherlands has many advantages for investors looking for a foothold in Europe, whether through a fund, a holding company, or an operational business.

This is a stable and prosperous country with a government that actively encourages innovation. Its leadership in the sciences and sustainability is helping to create a future-proof environment for business success.

Why CSC?

CSC provides knowledge-based solutions for every phase of the business life cycle, helping businesses form entities, maintain compliance, execute transaction work, and support real estate, M&A, and other corporate transactions in hundreds of U.S. and international jurisdictions.

We work with some of the world’s largest banks and commercial lenders to reduce risk in their lien portfolios, improve their transaction speeds, and create a secure environment for their financial processing needs. We also provide solutions for secure real estate document preparation and recording.

We are the trusted partner for 90% of the Fortune 500®, nearly 10,000 law firms, and more than 3,000 financial organizations. Headquartered in Wilmington, Delaware, USA, since 1899, we are a global company capable of doing business wherever our clients are—and we accomplish that by employing experts in every business we serve.

Missed this webinar? Watch it on-demand here.

[1] Invest in Holland

[2] Invest in Holland

[3] CBS

[4] World Bank

[5] Port of Rotterdam

[6] Amsterdam Airport

[7] OEC

[8] Invest in Holland

[9] World Bank

[10] Government of the Netherlands

[11] Trading Economics