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Company Formation
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Open a shop in the Netherlands

Updated: Dec 15, 2023

Can’t wait to open a shop in the Netherlands?

The Netherlands is becoming a favorite destination among foreigners who are looking to open a business overseas or expand their current businesses to foreign markets. This is due to the resilient and growing Dutch economy, the welcoming and stable business environment in the Netherlands, as well as favorable tax rates for overseas businesses to establish an office in the country. The Netherlands is also known for its strong tech industry, leading many tech start-ups to set up shop in the Netherlands.

Another draw-card is the ease with which one can open a shop in the Netherlands. There are very few licenses and permits, if any, required to open a shop in the Netherlands, the country has an incredible logistics infrastructure that ensures the swift delivery of products, and the majority of goods sold are sourced from local producers, especially fast-moving consumer goods. This makes opening a shop in the Netherlands a potentially lucrative option for investors. There are almost endless opportunities to open a shop in the Netherlands.

House of Companies consultants are experts in business development in the Netherlands and they can help you to identify opportunities and how to take advantage of them. Call one of our consultants now!

Are you considering opening a retail shop in Amsterdam or another Dutch city? If so, you need to be familiar with the Exploitatievergunning. This license is required for every entrepreneur who wishes to start a brick-and-mortar store in the city.

How do I open a shop in the Netherlands?

Starting a retail business in the Netherlands can be a rewarding venture. But, before you can begin, there are several steps you need to follow, from choosing the right legal structure to obtaining necessary licenses and permits. This guide will walk you through the process of opening a retail shop in the Netherlands with a special focus on deciding between setting up a Branch or a BV (Besloten Vennootschap).

  • The first thing you have to do when starting a Dutch business is to register a Dutch company with the Dutch Trade Register, which must include the mandatory NACE (Nomenclature of Economic Activities) number. For shops, the numbers are as follows (depending on the type of operation): Section G; Division 47; Group 47.1 - 47.9; Class 47.11, 47.19, 47.21 - 47.29, 47.30, 47.41 - 47.43, 47.51 - 47.59, 47.61 - 47.65, 47.71 - 47.79, 48.81 - 47.89, 47.91, 47.99.

  • If you plan on selling FMCG goods, you need to get the relevant licenses. These include:

  • License from local municipal authorities to market FMCG products.

  • Import licenses if you’d like to import goods.

  • Special licenses to sell goods like tobacco, food, and beverages.

  • One of the most registered types of companies to start a Dutch shop is the limited liability company, or Dutch BV.

Obtaining Necessary Permits and Licenses

Depending on the nature of your retail business, you may need to obtain certain permits and licenses. One crucial license for food and drinks (horeca) businesses is the 'Explotatievergunning'. This is a permit that allows you to legally operate your retail store at a specific location. It ensures that your business complies with the local zoning plan and building regulations. The permit is issued by the local municipality.

Financing Your Retail Shop

To kick-start your retail business, you may need some form of financing. One option is 'Qredits', a Dutch non-profit organization that offers microloans to small businesses. They offer loans up to €250,000, which can be used to finance the start or growth of your business.

Finding the Right Location

One of the most important steps in opening a retail shop is finding the right location. Factors such as foot traffic, accessibility, and proximity to similar businesses can greatly impact your store's success. When choosing a location, consider your target audience, competition, and the type of products you will be selling. Once you've found the ideal location, you'll need to negotiate a lease agreement. Whether provided by the landlord or supplied by you, this agreement sets the terms of your tenancy. You can customize a commercial lease agreement to suit your needs.

Hiring Staff

Once your shop is set up, you may need to hire staff. In the Netherlands, employers are obligated to verify the identity of all workers and register as an employer with the Dutch Tax and Customs Administration. Additionally, you are required to provide a healthy and safe workplace and pay at least the Dutch minimum wage.


As a business owner, you are responsible for obtaining the necessary insurances. These can include property insurance, liability insurance, and product liability insurance. These insurances protect your business against potential damages or legal claims.

Keeping Track of Business Records

In the Netherlands, every entrepreneur is required to keep business records. This includes invoices, receipts, contracts, and bank statements. These records must be kept for at least seven years.

Paying Taxes

As a retail business owner, you are required to pay various taxes. This includes corporate tax on your business profits and Value Added Tax (VAT) on most products and services. Depending on your business structure, you may also need to pay income tax.

Sales of Alcohol and Tobacco

If you plan to sell alcohol or tobacco products, additional permits and licenses are required. Make sure to check the specific regulations for these products.

Understanding Business Structures

The first step in opening a retail shop is understanding the different types of business structures available in the Netherlands. The two most common structures are a Branch and a BV.


A branch is an extension of a foreign company. It is not a separate legal entity, meaning the parent company is liable for all debts and obligations of the branch. The advantage of opening a branch is that it's relatively simple and cost-effective. However, it's important to remember that any liabilities incurred by the branch will extend to the parent company.

BV (Besloten Vennootschap)

A BV, on the other hand, is a private limited company. It is a separate legal entity, meaning the owners' liability is limited to their investment in the company. A BV requires a minimum share capital of one euro. It offers more protection for the owners but also requires a more complex setup and ongoing administration.

For most retail businesses, a BV is the preferred choice due to its liability protection. However, if your business is an extension of an already established foreign company, a branch might be more suitable.

Business Registration

Whether you choose to operate as a Branch or a BV, you will need to register your business with the Netherlands Chamber of Commerce (KVK). The registration process includes selecting a unique trade name, defining the nature of your business, and providing information about the business owners or directors. After successful registration, you will receive a KVK number, which is required for all official business activities.


Starting a retail shop in the Netherlands can seem daunting, but with the right preparation, it can be a smooth process. Whether you choose to open a branch or a BV, remember that the key to success lies in thorough planning, adhering to regulations, and maintaining a customer-focused approach. And remember, companies like House of Companies are here to assist with any license requirements, making the process easy and streamlined. So, are you ready to start your retail journey in the Netherlands?

Frequently asked questions:

Do I require a license to operate a shop in the Netherlands?


Why is The Netherlands such a good place to start a shop?

  • The Netherlands is a popular international tourist destination.

  • Cutting edge infrastructure and expertise to ensure the swift delivery of your products.

  • One of the fastest-growing economies in Europe.

  • The Netherlands has a very resilient and stable business environment.

  • Highly skilled workforce.

  • Increasing disposable income of Dutch residents.

  • Moderately competitive marketplace allows small and medium businesses to thrive.

How long does it take to start a shop in the Netherlands?

Starting a Dutch company usually takes between 2-5 days. However, if you require a license to run a particular type of shop in the Netherlands, it may take a bit longer. Call us to find out more.

Can I start a shop in the Netherlands as a non-Dutch or EU citizen?

Yes. The Dutch government allows foreigners to start a Dutch company or bring their existing business from abroad. However, certain legal conditions apply.