Can you run a Dutch Business Remotely

There can be many reasons to establish a Dutch business. The Netherlands offers multiple business opportunities: an innovative economy, low corporate income tax rates, the Brexit, good tax and logistical facilities for import into the European Union and short distance to many potential wealthy consumers, good schooling and pleasant working and living conditions. Despite the fact that living in the Netherlands will most likely be a warm memory to never forget, a large stake of the entrepreneurs wishes to run its Dutch venture without moving over. Taking this in mind, the question arises if you need to be present to establish and run an enterprise in the Netherlands.


Can a Dutch company set up remotely?


Dutch business formation can be arranged by providing a power of attorney. Company formation specialists request the power of attorney to be certified by a notary or lawyer and for some countries provided with an apostille. The registration of the company and director with the companies house can be arranged by a notary on the basis of a certified copy passport and proof of address.  The signing of the rental agreement for a physical or virtual address in the Netherlands also can be handled remotely. Under Dutch regulations a scan copy of a signed rental agreement is fully binding.


Can the director of company be non-Dutch resident or national?


From a company law perspective there is no need for a director from the Netherlands. The Dutch civil code does not contain any stipulations requiring the director to be a Dutch resident or national. There is no limitation to the appointment of a non-Dutch national living outside the Netherlands as the director of the Dutch company. This person will be able to execute all activities as if he or she will be a Dutch resident board member.


Is a Dutch director essential for tax reasons?


For any type of activities, it is advisable to visit the Netherlands now and then to have the relevant decision-making occur in the Netherlands. Subject to the type of activities or residency of the director, there can be additional rules. For royalty, holding and finance entities that benefit from tax avoidance treaties, tax substance requirements apply in case royalty, holding and finance activities comprise 70 per cent or more of the total turnover of the company. In such case not having a resident director or registered address in the Netherlands can lead to an exchange of information with the recipient or sending country. In situations of non-Dutch residency by the director, it is also smart to check if such situation could have any negative implications in the country of residence of the director.


Can I open a business bank account from outside the Netherlands?


A large stake of Dutch brick-and-mortar banks want to meet at least one of the board members as part of the client acceptance checks for opening a bank account. Most brick-and-mortar banks check the Dutch presence of the business and are often not willing to provide bank accounts in case the entity is not planning to have Dutch resident director or staff. An exemption form the internet banks such as Revolut, N26 and Transferwise. At these banks the bank account opening process can be fully executed via internet. The range of services of internet banks is rather limited, though for most starting Dutch enterprises it is most important that the bank account opening, conversion and transfer fees are low and that the bank will provide access to the SEPA system.


How shall my company obtain a Dutch VAT number?     


The registration of a new company with the Companies House, that is assumed to have VAT activities, automatically triggers the issue of a VAT number by the tax authorities. The letter is received around two weeks after incorporation. The fact that a new business has a non-Dutch resident director can be a reason for the tax authorities to halt the issue and send a questionnaire to assess the company’s Dutch substance. This could delay and eventually can even lead to the refusal of issue of a VAT number if not enough activity takes place in the Netherlands. A corporate services company or trust company in the Netherlands can bring outcome.


Conclusion; can a Dutch business set up and operated remotely?


A Dutch business can be set up and managed remotely, although it is recommended to plan regular visits to allow the decision-making to take place in the Netherlands. Royalty, holding and finance businesses are required to meet specific tax substance requirements, which are regularly updated. Having solely a non-Dutch director can be problematic for opening a bank accounts or releasing a VAT number. Though in case of any issues a good local advisor can assist to solve the matter.