Portrait of beautiful young woman standing with colleagues reading some documents in office. Business people in office reading their contract papers.

Around 400 companies each year set up their Business in the Netherlands, coming from Europe, North and South America, and Asia – and continues to be a place of choice for business expansion.

Expanding your business to the Netherlands brings with it plenty of excitement and opportunity. There are many good reasons to open an office in the Netherlands, whether in Amsterdam, Rotterdam, or any of the other amazing cities the country has to offer. If you decide to make the leap, ensure that you are fully compliant with local tax regulations, as well as outsourcing a Data Protection Officer role to a native Dutch speaker to ensure that you are fully compliant with GDPR in the country. In Dutch this is called ‘externe functionaris gegevensbescherming’. This, alongside all other business considerations should be taken very seriously in order for your business to be a success.

What are the tips you should take on board to navigate Dutch business culture when expanding your business to the Netherlands?

Why move your business to the Netherlands?

Many entrepreneurs and business owners have decided to open up their business to operate in the Netherlands in recent years, and with good reason. Here are just a few of the benefits of expanding your business to the Netherlands:

A good location – the Netherlands has fantastic trade links and transportation routes both within the country and out of it. To the west is the UK and Ireland within easy reach via the sea, road, rail and air, whilst links to the rest of Europe, Asia, and to every part of the globe is possible through its large ports and Amsterdam Schiphol Airport, which is an international travel hub.

Well-developed cities – an established and growing market awaits you, with well-developed cities such as Amsterdam, Rotterdam, Eindhoven, and The Hague, that all have great transport links between them and a market that is ripe for you to sell your products and services to.

A fantastic working population – the labour pool in the Netherlands is well-educated and highly-skilled within a wide variety of industries. The world class education system in the country has led to the development of a workforce eager to learn and with high standards of productivity and focus.

Easy migrant visas – the government issue work visas to a large number of people, enabling businesses to expand into the country whilst bringing certain numbers of existing staff to come with them.

Great tax incentives – the tax system is favourable to businesses in the Netherlands, with 15% statutory corporate income tax on the first €395,000 of profits and 25.8% on the next €395,000. The transparency of the benefits to incoming businesses makes it attractive, with 30% personal income tax advantages for skilled foreign workers.

What are the specific parts of Dutch business culture you need to know?

There are a few key parts of Dutch business culture that are very important. We’ll break it down into different sections below so you can see exactly what to expect and what is expected from you when conducting business in the Netherlands. The biggest thing though, across all aspects of Dutch life is punctuality. Dutch people are always on time for any type of meeting. If you are late, you will not build relationships.

Business meetings – there are a few key ones here, including the punctuality mentioned above. Always shake hands with every person in the room when arriving, expect business talk to start right away, and don’t waste any time during the meeting. Dutch people expect any proposals to be backed up with concrete facts and figures, so always be fully prepared before bringing up a potential thread of conversation.

A task-oriented society – you’ll find that many Dutch people don’t find it a necessary part of business life to create personal relationships with counterparts before conducting business. A business relationship is often kept formal and does not bleed into the personal lives of people who interact with each other daily as part of their work life. You can become friends with your Dutch colleagues but generally they will only do this if there is no potential negative impact on business.

There are a few steps you need to work through when expanding your business in the Netherlands. It is an extremely welcoming place to conduct business, with ample available and flexible workspaces to choose from, enticing tax incentives for a wide range of businesses and sectors, and a working population that is well motivated, highly educated and skilled, and always ready to learn more. Add in the great transport and logistics within the country itself, to wider Europe and the World, and you can see why it is such a popular choice of country when it comes to expanding businesses, especially from British firms looking to plug back into the EU market post-Brexit. As long as you follow the local rules and laws, ensure compliance with GDPR, and understand the specific business culture of the Dutch people, you can make a success of expanding into the country with your company.