Before you start..

  1. Invoice requirements

What do you need to state on your invoice?

You invoices must meet a number of legal requirements:

  • invoice number

  • invoice date

  • your name and address

  • your VAT identification number

  • your Dutch Commercial register number

  • VAT amount

  • the name and address of your customer

  • which goods or services were supplied

  • when they were supplied

  • the quantity of goods or services

Invoices must be numbered sequentially. You must rectify invoices that do not fulfil these requirements. This is particularly important for VAT purposes, because if your invoices do not satisfy the requirements, your buyer will not be entitled to a VAT deduction.

If you provide goods or services to another EU Member State, you must also indicate your customer’s VAT identification number.

Rules on sending invoices to private individuals

If you supply services or goods to private individuals (in Dutch), you do not need to provide an invoice, unless:

  • You are a wholesaler in food, tobacco products, dental raw materials or equipment and at least 80% of your customers are entrepreneurs

  • You sell a new or nearly new vehicle to a customer in a different EU country, stating the registration number.

  • You are involved in distance selling.

Expiration date invoice

It may be that you send your invoice only after some time. If it is sent to another company and it is not more than 5 years old, they still have to pay the invoice. It expires 5 years after the end of the payment term, after which your customer no longer has to pay. If you sell products to consumers, your invoice expires after only 2 years. But if you sell services and travels to consumers, the time limit is 5 years. If you send your customer a reminder before the end of the time limit, it will start again. This is called 'interrupting'.

You must keep invoices relating to immovable property for 10 years and all other invoices for 7 years. You can issue, receive and store your receipts and invoices in electronic format, but they must contain the same information as the original paper invoices.

2. Keeping business records

If you have a business in the Netherlands, you are legally obliged to keep records and to retain them for at least 7 years. You must keep data related to immovable property for at least 10 years. The obligation also applies when your business ceases trading within the specified period.

Obligation to keep records

The records form the basis for your tax returns. Some documents are mandatory, such as:

  • stock records

  • general accounts

  • payroll accounts

  • purchase and sales records

  • credit and debit accounts

You can make an arrangement with the Dutch Tax and Customs Administration about:

  • keeping other records for shorter periods

  • how you keep your records (on paper or digitally)

  • how detailed your administration needs to be

How long to keep records

If you supply electronic services, broadcasting or telecommunications services and you have opted for the Mini One Stop Shop (MOSS) scheme, you must also keep the data for 10 years. The MOSS scheme enables companies that provide broadcasting or telecommunication services in several EU countries to declare VAT in only one country: the country where they are registered. The scheme applies to companies based both within and outside of the EU.

Please note that if you stop running your company, you are still required to keep your basic records for the set length of time. Arrangements made with the Tax and Customs Administration to keep records for a shorter period than 7 years, do not apply to other governemental institutions. If you want to digitise your records and use this as sufficient proof of your business activities, contact your local Tax Office (in Dutch).

Customer identification

You may ask your customers for identification, but you may not copy their personal data and keep it in your administration. you may only do so if it is compulsory, such as when you recruit personnel.

3. Rules for business correspondence

Business correspondence covers letters, emails, quotes, brochures, fax messages and your website. It also includes invoices, for which additional rules apply. Advertising is not part of your business correspondence. All relevant business correspondence should be kept in your records.

Requirements business stationery

You must always include your trading name and your Dutch Commercial Register number (Handelsregisternummer) on your company stationary. Your website should show your address details, Dutch Commercial Register number and VAT identification number. If you operate a cooperative, mutual insurance society, private company (besloten vennootschap, bv) or public company (naamloze vennootschap, nv) and your trading name differs from the registered name (the name in the deed of incorporation), you include both the full registered name and your trading name in your business correspondence. For a private or public company you must include the registered office address (place of business) of the corporate entity alongside the registered name.

Not compulsory, but useful

Including the following information is not compulsory, but it may be useful for your customers:

  • Address of the premises and address for correspondence, including postcode and town

  • your VAT identification number

  • Email address, website, telephone and fax number

  • Your IBAN number (bank or bank giro account number)

Extra rules for distance selling

If you trade online with consumers, by phone or by mail order, there are additional rules for your stationery. Your website must provide complete clarity about the identity of your business (address details, Dutch Commercial Register number and VAT identification number). You must also inform your customers about the price, characteristics of the product, method of payment and delivery.

4. Using and checking VAT numbers

If you run a business in the Netherlands or if you run a foreign company with a Dutch branch, you may have to pay turnover tax (VAT) in the Netherlands. This also applies if your company is established abroad, but does business in the Netherlands. In all cases, you need a VAT identification number (btw-id or btw-identificatie nummer).

Receiving a VAT number

If you set up a business in the Netherlands, you must have it registered in the Dutch Commercial Register of the Netherlands Chamber of Commerce (KVK). The KVK will then send on your details to the Dutch Tax and Customs Administration. They will issue your VAT tax number and VAT-ID (if applicable) by post within 10 days. If you have registered without providing all relevant details, the Dutch Tax and Customs Administration will first assess if you are an entrepreneur for the purposes of VAT.

If your company is established abroad, but provides services in the Netherlands or supplies goods to Dutch-based companies, you need to register directly with the Dutch Tax and Customs Administration.

VAT number format

All Dutch private individual businesses have a VAT identification number (btw-id) and a VAT tax number. The VAT identification number (btw-id) is composed like this: country code NL, 9 digits, the letter 'B' and 2 check digits. The 9 digits are not related to your citizen service number and the 2 check digits are random. The new VAT identification number will then look like this: NL000099998B57.

Your invoices must clearly display your VAT identification number. If you offer services or sell products via a website, you must also display your VAT identification number on the website (in Dutch). EU businesses are also required to state the VAT identification number of their Dutch clients on their invoices. EU businesses must also state the VAT identification number in the recapitulative statement for goods and services supplied from January 1, 2020.

The VAT tax number (turnover tax number) consists of either the Legal Entities and Partnerships Information Number (RSIN), or your Citizen Service Number (BSN), supplemented with a code comprising three characters between B01 and B99 (for example 123456789B01). This is the number you use in all correspondence with the Dutch Tax and Customs Administration.

Checking validity of clients' VAT numbers

If you want to check the validity of your Dutch client's VAT identification number, or a client who has their registered office in another EU country, you can use the European Commission's VIES VAT number validation (VAT Information Exchange System). With VIES, you can also check name and address of clients from most Member States.

If you want to find out a company's VAT identification number, you should contact that company in order to receive this number directly from them.

Deregistering your VAT number

If you deregister your company with KVK, deregistration with the Dutch Tax and Customs Administration database follows automatically. Your VAT number(s) will then be deregistered, of which you will receive a written confirmation.

5. UBO register for ultimate beneficial owner

From 27 September 2020 onwards, companies and legal entitities must register persons who have an interest of more than 25% in the company. This register is called the UBO register. Registration in the UBO register is free of charge.

This measure is the result of European legislation to help stop financial and economic crimes such as money laundering, financing terrorism, tax fraud and corruption. The register makes it clear who is in charge of a company and to whom money is sent. This way, people cannot hide any potential financial crimes behind a corporation.

What is a UBO?

A UBO is the owner or the person who is effectively in control: the ultimate beneficial owner (in Dutch) of the company.

Ultimate beneficial owners are for instance:

  • persons who own more than 25% of shares of a company or legal entity

  • persons who have more than 25% of voting rights of a company

  • persons who are effectively in control of the company

Registering your UBO

Every EU country will need to keep a UBO register. In the Netherlands, the UBO register will be managed by the Netherlands Chamber of Commerce (KVK). You should register UBOs (in Dutch) from 27 September. Only an authorised signatory of your organisation can register. The KVK will also send a letter with instructions to all companies in the Dutch Commercial Register that have to register their ultimate beneficial owners. This can be done online, by post or through a notary. Starting organisations that need to register UBOs do so when they register at the Chamber of Commerce.

It depends on your legal form if your organisation must register UBOs. Organisations that must register UBOs are:

  • unlisted private and public limited companies

  • foundations

  • associations with full legal capacity

  • associations with limited legal capacity but with business activity

  • mutual insurance companies

  • cooperatives

  • partnerships: partnerships, general partnerships and limited partnerships

  • shipping companies

  • European limited liability companies (SE)

  • European cooperative societies (SCE)

  • European economic interest groupings that have their registered office in the Netherlands according to their statutes (EEIG)

Public UBO register

Some of the data in the UBO register is public. This concerns:

  • full name

  • month and year of birth

  • nationality

  • country of residence

  • nature and extent of the UBO's interest

To consult these data you can order an extract from the UBO register at the Chamber of Commerce (in Dutch). All other contents of the UBO register can only be consulted by competent authorities such as the Public Prosecution Service. For example to investigate money laundering or the financing of terrorism.

Foreign UBOs

Foreign companies that only have branch offices in the Netherlands do not have to register their ultimate beneficial owners in the Netherlands. An Ltd or GmbH should register their UBOs in the UBO register of their country of origin.

6. Protection of personal data

If you use or store personal data (from employees, customers or others), you should comply with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR or Algemene Verordening Gegevensbescherming, AVG). You must protect the privacy of the people whose data you store.

Types of personal data

Personal data that identify people can only be used in certain situations. These data include:

You can only use these data when the other person has given their consent. You can also use the information if it is necessary to carry out a service. For example, you need a customer’s address to deliver goods.

There are more restrictions regarding special categories of personal data. This means data that is sensitive. You are not allowed to use these data, unless you have legal grounds for it. For any data from the special category, additional safeguards must be put in place to protect it.

Keeping personal data safe

You have a duty to protect any personal data you collect and store. This means:

  • You may not collect or keep more personal data than strictly necessary

  • Only a (very) limited number of people in your company should have access to this data

  • You should not keep personal data for longer than necessary

  • You may have to carry out a Data Protection Impact Assessment.

Take a look at 10 steps you can take to make your business GDPR compliant.

Duty to disclose information

The GDPR stipulates that you must justify the registration and use of data in your possession. You should also let people know:

  • Which personal data you intend to use

  • Why you use this data

  • If you pass on or sell their personal information to third parties

You must also provide them with your own details (company name and address). It is mandatory to include a privacy statement on your website. This can be done using the privacy declaration generator (verklaringgenerator, in Dutch).

GDPR scan

The Netherlands Enterprise Agency develops business scans to inform you which rules apply to your business by asking a number of questions. You can perform the GDPR scan (Regelhulp AVG, in Dutch) to you help you meet the GDPR rules or follow the steps in our GDPR guide.

Report processing of personal data

If you are starting a company in the Netherlands and you intend to process personal data, you must report to the Dutch Data Protection Authority (Dutch DPA, Autoriteit Persoonsgegevens). You may be exempt from this duty to report. Please contact the Dutch DPA for more information.

Reporting theft, loss or abuse of personal data

You must notify the DPA (in Dutch) and the persons involved of any theft, loss or abuse of personal data for which you are responsible. The GDPR demands that businesses must register and file all data leaks. If you fail to notify any data breach in time, DPA may impose a fine.

Online procedure via Message Box

If you have to report your use of personal data for a procedure subject to the Services Act (Dienstenwet), you can also do this via Message Box. Message Box is a secure email system that enables you as an entrepreneur to exchange digital messages with Dutch government agencies.