7 things you need as a freelancer in the Netherlands

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So you’ve recently decided to become a ZZP’er (zelfstandige zonder personeel) — a self-employed person or a freelancer, as one may call it. Congratulations!

But from registering your business to maintaining your day-to-day finances, it can be daunting to get used to the ins and outs of freelancing. 

Here are 7 things you’ll need to be a successful freelancer in the Netherlands

1. Certification from the Kamer van Koophandel (Chamber of Commerce)

Before you can officially start freelancing in the Netherlands and working for different clients, you have to head to the Dutch Kamer van Koophandel (KvK). Here, you will be given the proper certification so that you can legally work in the Netherlands.

This involves the typical Dutch bureaucracy. The meeting shouldn’t take longer than 45 minutes, and you’ll gather important documents, fill out forms, and make a payment (usually of €50) for opening your business. 

You’ll review some documents, sign some forms, and discuss your business with someone from the Dutch Chamber of Commerce! Image: Freepik

Among these important forms, you will receive your BTW number (VAT number), which will register you with the Belastingdienst as a business that must pay taxes.  

You will also receive the all-important KvK number. This number should be included in your invoices and also when identifying your business to potential clients. 

2. An up-to-date website or portfolio

No matter the profession, everyone needs a website or portfolio — it’s not just useful for making sure potential clients can reach you, but also for allowing them to view what kind of work you do. Think of it as a digital CV!

Think about a concise and interesting way to show off your hard work. Image: Freepik

Depending on the website-creating service you use, you can include all kinds of important career-related documents: contact details, entries of different works you’ve done, clients you’ve worked for, and links to your CV and other social media you may use for your business brand. 

3. Good branding and social media

Speaking of, as a freelancer in the Netherlands, you’re also in charge of your business branding and marketing to attract more clients. 

It’s important to make sure you have a strategy in mind for how you want to present yourself as a freelancer to potential clients. 

Tip: If you want to focus on the professional side of your business, it’s worth creating a LinkedIn account and keeping it updated with projects you’re working on and clients you’re in business with. 

This strategy can include creating a strong social media presence (whether it’s through Instagram, Facebook or TikTok!), building a unique online portfolio or website, and creating letterheads and logos so other people can identify your business. 

4. An organised invoicing system

Once you’ve done work for a client, it’s time to get paid! Unlike regular employees, freelancers aren’t given paychecks by their clients. 

Make sure you’re getting paid for your hard work! Image: Freepik

Instead, freelancers need to invoice their client, indicating all the expenses such as value-added tax (VAT, or BTW in Dutch), and other potential expenses like travelling costs. 

Invoicing clients can be chaotic, especially if you have a lot of finances to handle, so it’s useful to find an easy-use invoicing system. 

Finom offers a handy foolproof invoicing system for freelancers in the Netherlands. Check out a variety of their subscription tiers for access to essential finances as a freelancer!

5. Great accounting skills

Freelancers in the Netherlands also need to have a good grasp of accounting and finances. 

You’ll be in charge of making sure you bill your clients for your work, file your taxes (this includes knowing where and when to do it), and keep track of all kinds of business expenses (for example, a new work laptop or a travel subscription).

Keep track of your expenses and finances from the start. Image: Depositphotos

Don’t be scared. These are skills you can learn yourself — or you can hire a professional (a.k.a. an accountant) to help you get a handle on these finances. 

6. A business bank account

While we’re on the subject of finances, having a separate business bank account can be useful for managing finances and getting an overview of your costs as a freelancer in the Netherlands. 

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With a second bank account, you can easily keep track of business expenses separate from your personal ones!

Finom provides a number of financial services that may be helpful for freelancers in the Netherlands. From opening a business bank account and debit/credit cards, automating important payments, handling any international transfers and more, it doesn’t get easier than this. 

7. A solid pension plan

While you live and work here, you also gain the benefit of a General old age pension (AOW). This benefit is usually lower than how much you earn while working but that’s not necessarily the case if you’re a freelancer who plans their pension well! 

Freelancers in the Netherlands have a few ways to supplement their pensions. For example, you can take out annuity insurance with a bank, insurance company, or investment broker, which will invest part of your income and pay out your savings once you retire. 

Thinking about your retirement plan already? Image: Freepik

You could also put money aside in the Dutch retirement reserve, which allows you to take these savings as part of your expenses resulting in a lower income tax assessment. 

Each plan has its own requirements, advantages, and disadvantages, so make sure to do some extra research and consult a financial expert to find out which plans would work best for your business situation. 

Becoming a freelancer in the Netherlands is an exciting endeavour, and with these tips, you’re ready to work independently and with lots of flexibility!

Are you thinking of becoming a freelancer? Tell us in the comments below!

Feature Image:Freepik
Katrien Nivera 🇵🇭
Katrien Nivera 🇵🇭
Third culture kid Katrien has been working as a writer and editor at DutchReview for over two years, originally moving to the Netherlands as a tween. Equipped with a Bachelor’s in communication and media and a Master’s in political communication, she’s here to stay for her passion for writing, whether it’s current Dutch affairs, the energy market, or universities. Just like the Dutch, Katrien lives by her agenda and enjoys the occasional frietje met mayo — she just wishes she could grow tall, too.

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