How to get a DAFT Netherlands visa and a 30% ruling: a guide in 5 steps

Feb 14, 2024

American business owners moving to the Netherlands can make use of the DAFT visa. This is essentially a simplified version of the Self Employed visa, which reflects the amical relations between the Netherlands and the United States. Potential DAFT applicants may notice another interesting rule applying to immigrants to the Netherlands : the 30% ruling. Why would you be interested in the 30% ruling? In short: if you earn € 60,000 or more per year, you are entitled to receive 30% of that tax free if you have the 30% ruling. Additional benefits of having a BV + 30% ruling include: expensing of relocation costs to the Netherlands for you, your family and your household goods, as business costs in your BV, expensing of schooling costs for your children on an expat school in the Netherlands, as business costs in your BV and swapping your foreign driver’s licence for a Dutch driver’s licence without additional requirements. In another article, we have explained all these and more tax benefits available to DAFT applicants.

So the 30% ruling is something you should seriously consider when applying for DAFT. You only get a shot at it straight at the beginning, together with your DAFT application. Afterwards, you will lose the option to 30% ruling forever. So is there a way to combine the two : DAFT and 30% ruling? Yes there is, but you will need to do some prepping. Luckily for you, we’ve got you covered. In this article we will explain the process in practical steps.

Step 1: Meet the requirements for DAFT Netherlands

First, make sure you meet the basic requirements for DAFT:

  • You have a US passport.

  • You don’t have a record of “misbehavior” in the Netherlands: you haven’t stayed here illegally, and you don’t have a criminal record.

  • You will migrate to the Netherlands.

  • You will start a business in the Netherlands. If you are going into regular employment, you should look into the EU Blue Card or HSM visa.

  • You are able to bring in a starting capital of EUR 4,500 into the business. This does not include your business run up costs. You must be able to keep this EUR 4,500 in reserve in your company’s bank account for the duration of your visa.

  • As part of your municipality registration later on, you are going to need an original certified birth certificate. If you were born in the USA, you can easily obtain this via the Vital Records Office where you are redirected to your state’s website. If you were born outside of the USA, you will need to contact the government of your country of birth. This may take (considerably) more time, so please arrange this as soon as you can.

Additional requirements depending on circumstance:

  • If you are married you need an apostilled marriage certificate.

  • If you are divorced you need to bring an apostilled divorce certificate.

  • If you bring a child from a deceased ex-spouse, you need to bring an apostilled death certificate.

Step 2: Meet the requirements for 30% ruling

There are numerous articles explaining the requirements for getting the 30% ruling. As a starting business owner, you are eligible for the 30% ruling if you have never worked or lived in the Netherlands before and you expect annual profits over € 66,000. This also means you must choose the BV as your company form, because the 30% ruling requires an employment relationship with your own company. If you don’t qualify for the 30% ruling but you expect annual profits in the range of € 100,000 - 120,000, you expect considerable growth potential, you want to attract investors later on, or you want to protect yourself from personal liability, you should still consider choosing for the BV as your company form. If all this doesn’t apply to you, you should go for the Eenmanszaak (or “ZZP”) as a company form. In another article we explain the general differences between the ZZP/eenmanszaak and the BV+30% ruling.

Step 3: Secure your 30% ruling

If you want to proceed with obtaining the 30% ruling, you need to make sure your BV is set up before you move to the Netherlands. This is because you have to sign the labour contract with your own BV before you move. The 30% ruling is a tax break for incoming expat employees after all. The entire process of the BV + 30% ruling is explained on our page about the BV + 30% package.

Step 4: Obtain your DAFT Netherlands visa

Once you have secured your 30% ruling you can migrate to the Netherlands. Make sure you schedule a call with us first so we can already prepare your DAFT file. Before you even land, we will submit your DAFT application to the IND (the Dutch Immigration Authorities) for you so the IND is already in possession of your file. The IND will send you a confirmation letter of your DAFT application at your chosen address in the Netherlands. They will also send you an invoice for their DAFT fee of € 380 (2024), which you are required to pay as soon as you can.

Once you arrive, make an appointment at the IND. Please go to this appointment and bring your valid US passport. At this appointment the IND will take your biometric information (fingerprints). The IND will issue you your “verblijfssticker” (residence sticker) which entitles you to stay and work in the Netherlands in expectance of the final verdict for your DAFT. Then proceed and make an appointment at the Dutch municipality of your residence (“Gemeente”). Take the following documents with you: - your passport
- your birth certificate
- the IND confirmation letter
- a rental agreement or a statement of consent from the main resident at the address you’re going to stay at in the Netherlands.

Within a few days after this appointment the Gemeente will issue you your BSN number.

Once you have your company up and running you are required to get a bank account for it. If you have a BV you can start this process earlier on, but it will be much easier getting into Dutch banks once you have a BSN number. Dutch bank BUNQ is at the moment the most receptive to new foreign business owners. But you are also free to choose an international bank like N26, Revolut, or any other bank from another country that will have you. Once you have your bank account, move an amount of EUR 4,500 to that bank account and get a bank statement that reflects this. We will forward this bank statement and your company registration details to the IND.

Last but not least, you are required to provide an opening balance for your new company, provided by an accountant, bookkeeper or any tax or compliance advisor with a registered BECON number. This opening balance will confirm the fact that you have EUR 4,500 on your bank account. We will also forward this one to the IND. Your company will need an accountant to be compliant with tax and accounting regulations any way, so please onboard one as soon as you can. Please don’t be under the illusion you can do this yourself, as the Dutch Tax Authorities will only communicate with you in Dutch. From here on it’s a waiting game. The IND will issue a decision within 3 months, starting from the day the application has been submitted at the IND. In the meantime, you can work and live in the Netherlands as though you already have the DAFT visa.

Step 5: Finalize your 30% ruling

Your 30% ruling was already secured once you set up your BV and signed your labor contract with it. But now it actually needs to be applied for. For this we need your BSN number and a wage tax number for your employment in your BV. Your BSN number was provided to you after your registration at the Gemeente as part of your DAFT process. Your wage tax number will be applied for, using your BSN number. Once the wage tax number is in, we have a complete file to submit to the Tax Authorities for your 30% application. It may take several weeks before you get it, but you are allowed to payroll yourself under 30% in the meantime.

Figure 1: Timeline towards obtaining a DAFT visa and a 30% ruling


Cardon & Company offers a complete DAFT + BV + 30% package, servicing you from A-Z. This means we take care not only of your DAFT application, but also of your BV incorporation and 30% ruling, and all the timelines involved. Reach out to us for more information.