An Entrepreneur’s Guide to the Startup Visa

Have you decided that starting your a business is the next item on your to do list? Are you in the process of creating your final business checklist? The Netherlands is actually one of the best places for startups. Add that to the long list of reasons to study in Holland! Startups receive a lot of support to become successful businesses and do well on the Dutch market. 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 what it is and how you get it...

Image of success with the startup visa

What is the Startup Visa?

In short, this visa is aimed at entrepreneurs and gives ambitious startups a year to start and elaborate their 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 an all-in-one work residence permit and is only valid for one year. The Immigration and Naturalization Service (IND) are the ones who take care of all work and residence related permits.

Are there any conditions for the Startup Visa?

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 is included in permit applications.
  • Have taken a tuberculosis (TB) test, unless you are from these countries. You are also exempted from this requirement if you have a residence permit, are born in the Netherlands, have already taken a test in the last 6 months, or have an EU residence permit.

Furthermore, there are conditions specific to the Startup Visa:

First and foremost, you need a facilitator.  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 with which 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. A facilitator acts as a business mentor, providing the support your startup needs to get on its feet. Your facilitator needs to be someone who is experienced in helping startups develop and has to be financially stable. The facilitator cannot have any interests in the company nor can they be related to you. You must have a signed agreement that states that you have this relationship. Your mentor should help you with things like management, marketing and investments!

How do you show innovation on your Startup Visa application?

You're supposed to be proposing innovative goods or services but what exactly does that mean? 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 organisational procedures or methods. This could mean self-developed products or services, an original approach to energy conservation, social innovation, or a 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 though. Check out our guide to working in the Netherlands for more information! 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 €326. 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've submitted your application! You’ll be told when and where to collect your permit.

You can download the application form here.

You can also apply online through IND's business portal!

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.

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!

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