Self-employment Permit: Be an Entrepreneurial Boss!

Are you a student entrepreneur? Then this is the post for you! Though you are practically killing the game, being self-employed might be a bit daunting sometimes. How do you start your own business? How do you structure your time? One of the most important things to know is whether you need a work permit or not. If you are planning on becoming self-employed, you’ll need to apply for a self-employment permit. How do you do that, you ask? Keep on reading.

Image of entrepreneur and self-employment permit

Who needs a self-employment permit?

First things first: EU/EEA or Switzerland residents do not need any type of permit in the Netherlands. As long as you have a valid ID or passport, you are good to go. With this in mind, remember that if you are planning to stay in Holland for longer than 3 months (which many students do), you still need to apply for a BSN number (citizen service number). You do this by registering at a Dutch city hall.

If you are not from the EU/EEA or Switzerland, you will need both a residence and working permit. In this case, you’ll need to apply for a residence permit with work authorization as a self-employed person or entrepreneur.

Startup Visa

It can be quite tough to meet all the requirements if you are a foreign national that wants to be self-employed. Because of that, there is a Startup Visa, which was created in 2015. As a result, you can apply for this visa to be allowed one year to prepare for meeting the requirements of a Dutch self-employment permit. You can read more about the Startup Visa here.

Image of student entrepreneur

Requirements for a self-employment permit

To apply for the self-employment permit, there are certain boxes you need to tick. This is all determined through a points-based scoring system. You can see what criteria you need to fit and how the points are calculated on this form.

Your business plan will be looked over and assessed by the Netherlands Enterprise Agency (RVO). There are three different categories you can score in: personal experience, business plan, and the benefits your company give the Dutch economy. Additionally, you need to be able to prove that you have sufficient financial support for at least 12 months after you start this application.

Not going to lie: this points-based system is extremely thorough and you need to be well prepared. For this reason, your application should be carefully thought through!

You must score at least 90 out of 300 points, and 30 points in each category.

To summarize, these are the conditions for scoring a self-employment permit:

  1. You need to talk about the extent of your personal experience with self-employment. Moreover, you need to show your level of education and years of work experience.
  2. There needs to be a solid business plan.
  3. You need to prove you are going to serve Dutch interests.
  4. Lastly, you need to prove you have support for at least the first 12 months following this whole shebang.

Specific requirements

In addition, there are also different conditions for different types of self-employment.

  • Businesses: you have to show that you have at least 25% interest in the company, as well as liability for risks. Not to mention, you have to be able to influence your level of income. If you don’t meet these requirements, you are considered an employee. You can read more about work permits on our Permits in the Netherlands guide.
  • Freelancers: here, you must prove that you have assignments lined up in the Netherlands at the time you are applying for your self-employment permit.

Exceptions to the rule

Are you a US citizen? You can also be self-employed! To do this, you need to represent US interest in the Netherlands, invest capital, and meet the Dutch residence requirements. You do not have to meet the points-based review.

Image of student working with a self-employment permit

How do I apply?

To apply for the joint residence and work permit, you can either wait until you arrive in the Netherlands or apply before you arrive. You can apply through the IND and need to make an appointment.

What documents do you need when applying for a self-employment permit?

  • A valid passport or ID
  • Proof of income
  • Proof that you are qualified. This means a degree or certificate.
  • Details of your business plan, legal aspects, finances, organization, and market analysis.
  • A certificate of registration at the Dutch Chamber of Commerce
  • If you are a freelancer, a list of work assignments in the Netherlands
  • Proof of your educational qualifications
  • And lastly, evidence of work connections and experience in Holland

There is also a non-refundable fee for processing your application, which costs around €1,348.

The permit is valid for a maximum of 2 years, but you can extend it if you want after that. If you stop being self-employed, then you need to apply for a new residence permit.


Those are the basics you need to know about self-employment permits! If you are looking to go solo, we wish you all the luck in the world!

Are you a student entrepreneur? You can find out more about labor law here and check out College Life Ventures for an in-depth guide to starting your next venture.

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