Freelancing in the Netherlands with a 30% ruling in 8 steps

Feb 15, 2024

The Netherlands is an ideal place to settle yourself as a self-employed person, contractor or freelancer. The Netherlands has two main company setups to choose from : the ZZP/eenmanszaak or the BV+30% ruling. The difference between the two is mainly dictated by the amount of income you can generate from your work. If this is falls below € 60,000 per year, you should go for the ZZP/Eenmanszaak company form. If your income falls north of € 66,000 per year, you should really look into the BV+30% ruling set up. The idea of the BV+30% setup is that you use your Dutch BV entity to invoice your clients (anywhere in the world) and receive the revenues for it on your business bank account. You then use those revenues to payroll yourself as director in your Dutch BV, where you apply the 30% ruling tax break. In this article, we will explain in 8 steps how to play your cards right so you can set yourself up with a BV+30% ruling.


1. Make sure you meet the prerequisites for the 30% ruling

In short the prerequisites for the 30% ruling are:

- You need to have a work permit in the Netherlands
- The minimum salary for the 30% ruling in 2024 is € 46,107. But you need to earn at least € 66,000 per year in order for the 30% ruling to have full effect. The difference between these amounts lies in the fact that the 30% ruling only applies on the part of your salary that is above the current minimum salary. From € 66,000 per year and onwards in annual salary, you can deduct 30% and still have the minimum of € 46,107 left. That's why we strongly advise to only pursue this setup if you have € 66,000 per year in annual salary. Any amount in between € 46,107 and € 66,000 means you may have the 30% ruling, but not enjoy its full effects.
- Either you already have a pre-existing 30% ruling from regular employment in the Netherlands (for example as a Highly Skilled Migrant) or you need to be hired from abroad. If you need to be hired from abroad, you must be able to prove that, in the 2-year period prior to moving to the Netherlands, you have lived for more than 16 months at a distance of at least 150 kilometers from the Dutch border.  

If you are already working in the Netherlands with a 30% ruling and are making the jump to self employment, you don't need to worry about the "hired from abroad" criterium anymore. Instead, there's a couple of other points for you to consider:
- There may not be an overlap between the previous employment and your new employment in the Dutch BV. You can easily control this by letting your new employment in your Dutch BV only commence after the previous employment is terminated. Make sure you terminate the previous employment correctly, taking into account the statutory notice period.
- There may not be more than 3 months between the end of the previous employment contract and the signing of the new employment contract. If the previous employment ends with a “garden leave” period, the beginning of that “garden leave period” counts as the end of that employment.

You can read more details in the FAQs about the 30% ruling.


2. Find a place to register your new Dutch company

The first thing you need to do is register a Dutch company. But before that, you need to find a place to register your Dutch company. You can register your company at a home address if you have a lease contract or ownership title to that address in your name. If not, find an office space. This has the additional benefit that your BV cannot be tracked back to your home address via the public Dutch Chamber of Commerce registers, which is made visible via Google Maps. Any business address you choose must offer the option to be permanently present if required. Virtual offices are not allowed.



3. Setup your BV (from abroad)

If you don't already have a 30% ruling and are applying for a new one, you must start the setup of your BV while you are still abroad. Use your existing foreign address to identify yourself as a founder, and make sure you have proof of this via a recent utility bill. The BV itself will be registered at the business address in the Netherlands, as obtained in the previous step. If you already work in the Netherlands with a 30% ruling and are making the switch, you can just incorporate your BV from within the Netherlands.

TIP: Set up your BV as a consulting BV with additional “holding activities” as statutory goals. This way, you can also use your consulting BV for holding activities, and as such participate in other companies or provide loans and mortgages (to yourself) later on. You can also setup a full BV + holding structure, in which case you would have 2 separate BVs : one for holding activities (held by yourself) and one for your operating activities (held by your holding). Such a scenario is advisable for business owners that want to separate their business risk from their capital (i.e. the holding vs. the operating BV) or plan to sell the operating BV at some point in the future (you don't want to receive that sale price in your private purse, as it's heavily taxed).


4. Enter a correct employment agreement with your BV, from abroad

This is where the magic happens, at least as far as the 30% ruling is concerned. The 30% ruling is applied to your salary as director of your BV. For that, you need to enter into a correct 30% ruling labor contract before you move to the Netherlands. If you are already in the Netherlands with a 30% ruling, you still need to sign this labor contract except you don't have to sign it from abroad. Make sure that the labor contract contains all the relevant and required clauses for the 30% ruling, and don't miss out on all the possible perks you can give yourself (relocation cost compensation, children's schooling cost compensation).

TIP: There is a difference between the signing date and the effective date of the labor contract. For the 30% ruling it is imperative that the signing date is before your date of migration into the Netherlands. But you can let the contract take effect later if you want to. In consultation with your accountant you can stretch this for months, if required.




5. Actually relocate to the Netherlands

Only once steps 1-4 are finished do you actually make the jump to the Netherlands. You can sign a rental agreement or purchase a property earlier, but you need to put the effective date of such a deal after you sign the labour contract. Upon arrival, you will move into your living address here and get started. If you are having a hard time finding residential space in the Netherlands, consider hiring a real estate agent to advise you. Bear in mind that all the costs of your relocation, including those of the real estate agent, can be expensed in your BV as employment compensation costs. The esteemed director of the BV must relocate to the Netherlands to perform the work, after all.


6. Get your BSN number

Once you arrive in the Netherlands, your first order of business is obtaining your Dutch citizenship number called the BSN number. You need your BSN number for a lot of things, including payrolling and submitting your 30% ruling application. If you are an EU citizen, you can register yourself at the Dutch city of your residence as a Citizen of the Union. You will then be awarded your BSN number immediately. If you are a non-EU citizen, you will need to perform a visa application procedure. As a self-employed person, this usually means you are becoming a dependent of your Highly Skilled Migrant or Blue Card spouse, or you are joining your partner under a partner visa. These processes are usually started well in advance of your arrival in the Netherlands, and the BSN number is the final step of that sequence of events.

TIP: Sometimes you automatically receive a BSN number based on your new Dutch company registration. This number is sent to your home address you used for the incorporation. If you didn't receive it, just proceed to the municipality for your appointment. If you did receive it, it's a non-resident BSN number which does not interfere with your 30% ruling application. Non-resident numbers will be changed to resident numbers once you register at the municipality. The number will always remain the same, just the value attached to the number changes.



7. Start the 30% application process

Once everything is set up, you can proceed an start the application process for your 30% ruling. This requires your BSN number (step 6), your signed 30% labor contract (step 4), and a small batch of documents proving your foreign address before you migrated to the Netherlands. This can be a couple of months worth of utility bills. Your application usually takes between 4-6 weeks between submission and the green light.

TIP: It may take a long time for you to obtain the final verdict on the 30% ruling, but you don't have to wait that long. You can already and immediately apply the 30 % ruling retroactively to your salary, straight from the start of the labor contract. That's Dutch pragmatism for you. Some Dutch accountants don't know this, or refuse to apply it. If this happens, point them to this government site, under question 38. If you are looking for a good accountant that knows how to handle this correctly, check out UWBS via here.


8. Start doing business

As a self employed person, you can of course always work for your clients and decide when and where to invoice them for your work. There are a few practical things to consider here.

- Contracting: Once your BV is incorporated, you can immediately sign contracts on behalf of it. You can then also start performing the work under that contract (although no one is holding you back from doing that earlier).

- Invoicing: In order to send out invoices for your work under the contract you signed, you need a valid VAT number to put on your invoice. This number is automatically awarded to BVs with a shareholder or director holding a Dutch BSN number. But if you incorporated your BV from abroad (as required for the 30% ruling) your BV probably did not fulfil that requirement at the moment it was registered. But don't worry, you can explain this to the Tax Authorities and once you have settled in the Netherlands they will award the VAT number without hesitation. Their goal is just to prevent bogus foreign-owned companies ending up in the Dutch VAT register. You are not one of those. It is wise to have an accountant on board at this point, though. You can book a meeting with a decent one via here.

- Receiving payment: In order to actually receive the payment for the invoices you are submitting, you need a business bank account in the name of your BV. Dutch banks are really difficult to work with on account of very stringent KYC regulations. This means they will not accept you if you don't have a BSN number or very recently obtained one. Your solution lies in finding an online bank like Finom.co or Wise.com. The payments you receive from your clients can be used to pay your business expenses, such as accounting costs, business setup costs, hardware (such as laptops).

- Receiving salary: The payments you receive from your clients are of course also used to pay your salary. When your payday finally comes, it's also time to apply your 30% ruling. But in order to payroll any employee of your BV, including you as a director, the BV needs an active wage tax number. The wage tax number is the same as the RSIN number on your KVK extract, with -L01 added to the end. So the number is already known from the beginning, but it needs to be activated. Your accountant can do that for you. Once this is all set up, your accountant's payroll software will provide you with nice monthly payslips that outline the application of the 30% ruling to your salary.

- Expected net salary
As for the calculation of your prospective salary during the first 20 months, we advise the following formula:

  1. Take your prospective annual revenues.

  2. Subtract an amount for annual costs (accounting, setup, laptop, etc.). In your first year you can use € 5,000 as a good estimate. The remaining amount you can pay out as a salary under 30%. 

  3. If the remaining amount is above € 65,867 you can take 30% off it and consider this as tax free salary. If it is lower than € 65,867 you can pocket the difference with € 46,107 as net salary. 

  4. The remainder of the salary after subtracting 30% can be run through an online calculator like this one (sadly only in Dutch) to calculate your net income.

  5. If you add the outcomes of 3. and 4. you get your net income under 30% ruling after taxes salary. 


    (NB
    : this calculation method is an approximation, no rights can be derived from it.)


Visualization of the 8 steps towards getting a 30% ruling in your Dutch BV




We understand the process of making the jump to the Netherlands can be complex, on both a business and a personal level. Still, we hope these broad outlines will help you along the way. If you still have questions after this, please check out the general FAQ page on the 30% ruling, or the specific FAQ section on for the BV+30% ruling package (scroll down). Of course, we are well placed to assist you during this whole process.