An entrepreneur’s guide to the Startup Visa

Have you decided that starting your own business is next on your agenda? Are you in the process of creating your final small-business checklist? The Netherlands is actually one of the best places for startups; put that on the long list of reasons to study in Holland! Startups receive a whole lot of support to become successful businesses and do well in the market. One thing that is key, even perhaps the most important component of your business plan, is your working permit. If you’ve read about work permits for students, you might have come across the Startup Visa. The Startup Visa is a good way to launch your business while you are still working out all details! Continue reading to find out more about what it is and how you get it...

Image of success with the startup visa

What is the Startup Visa?

In short, this entrepreneur visa gives ambitious startups a year to start and build on your new business ideas. You may know about the points-based system needed for receiving a self-employment permit. In any case, Dutch authorities know that it might be difficult to satisfy these criteria; this is why the Startup Visa was introduced! It gives entrepreneurs one year to prepare for this scoring criteria when applying for the self-employed working permit.

It is considered a work residence permit all-in-one, and is only valid for one year. The Immigration and Naturalization Service (IND) are the ones who take care of all kinds of permits.

Are there any conditions?

There are some conditions that apply to everyone, no matter what type of permit you are applying for. You need to:

  • Have a valid passport or ID.
  • Sign an antecedents certificate. This is a certificate that you need to sign concerning your criminal record. For instance, you state that you have no criminal record and that you are not in Holland illegally. This form comes with permit applications.
  • You will have had a tuberculosis (TB) test, unless you are from these countries. This also applies if you have a residence permit, are born in the Netherlands, have already had a test in the last 6 months, or have an EU residence permit.

Furthermore, there are conditions specifically for the Startup Visa. Let’s outline them right now:

  • First and foremost, you need a facilitator. This is someone that must be an experienced and reliable supervisor. All the following conditions apply both to you and your supervisor!
  • Your product or service should be innovative.
  • You have a step-by-step business plan so that you can turn your idea into business. This needs to include things like your own role in the organisation, the structure, roles and tasks, personnel, purpose, and a description of the innovative product or service.
  • Both of you have to be registered in the Trade Register of the Chamber of Commerce.
  • Also, you need to prove you have enough funding to live and work in the Netherlands. You could prove this through your bank statements.

Image of student entrepreneur

Wait, what's a facilitator?

Hold on a second, let’s go back to talking about the facilitator. Ultimately, your facilitator is like your business mentor. You must have a signed agreement between you that you have this relationship. Your mentor should help you with things like management, marketing and investments!

In order for your facilitator to be approved, they should:

  • Have experience in helping and guiding startups.
  • Be financially sound.
  • Not have major interest in your company.
  • They also cannot be a family member. That means, they cannot be a child, parent, grandparent, or aunt or uncle.

How do you show innovation?

In the conditions, it said something about innovative products or services, right? Well, what does that mean, exactly? Your product or service is considered innovative if it has one or more of the 3 aspects below:

  • It is new to the Netherlands.
  • The product or service somehow involves new technology for production, distribution, or marketing.
  • It has innovative organisation procedures or methods. This could mean self-developed products or services, an original approach to energy conservation, social innovation, or creative market approach, to name a few.

Image of ideas for a startup

This is how you apply for the Startup Visa

Firstly, you need to know if you might need a MVW, which is a temporary residence permit. Not everyone needs one, so be sure to check that! Secondly, any documents that you need for the application need to be legalised and translated into either Dutch, English, French or German.

The application costs €317. After you have downloaded and printed out the application forms for the Startup Visa, you keep the originals and send copies to the IND (the Immigration and Naturalization Service). The IND should make their decision within 90 days after you submitted your application! You’ll be told when and where to collect your permit.

You can download the application form here. 

After this one year, you cannot extend the Startup Visa! It’s just not possible. However, you can apply for a self-employment permit if all goes well (and we hope it does!). You can read more about self-employment permits here.


Starting your own business doesn’t have to be difficult! The biggest hurdle is the idea. As long as you get your permits in order, the rest pretty much falls into place. With hard work, of course...

What's on your entrepreneur checklist? Join the conversation in the comments!