FAQs - Freelancing in the Netherlands

What do we actually mean by freelancing

Freelancing is not a legal term in the Netherlands. What we mean with freelancing is : working for clients as an independent “One Man Business”. This can be either as a Dutch BV company or ZZP/eenmanszaak.

What are the tax breaks associated with the ZZP/eenmanszaak?

The Dutch Eenmanszaak, or EZ, has the following tax advantages: Zelfstandigenaftrek, Startersaftrek and MKB Winstvrijstelling. These can add up to about € 10,000 - € 15,000 per year in tax free income. You apply these tax breaks in your annual income tax returns, where you declare the status of “independent business owner”. At that point you need to look back and make sure the following applies to you:

(i) you worked at least 1224 last year in your EZ. There’s no breaks for part timers or starting late in the year.
(ii) you run an actual business, with a website, promotion and a business risk.
(iii) you have three clients or more per year
(iv) your income is at least € 20,000 per year
(v) you don’t get 70% or more of your income from 1 client
(vi) you don’t have to lead or instruct fellow employees
(vii) you are free in how to perform your work, at what times, and from where
(viii) you have a clear and correct freelancing contract.

Only if you meet these criteria can you apply the income tax breaks associated with the ZZP/eenmanszaak.

Is it a good idea to get liability insurance as a freelancer?

Depends. The big difference between employment and freelancing is that you’re basically an entrepreneur taking the risks that come with performing bad work. In practice, however, it would take a lot for you to actually become liable. If you’re working in engineering, or you perform reparations, this may be a good idea because your hands can actually break things. But if you’re a regular “knowledge worker” consultant (in IT, law, business and such) this is much less the case. You could use a good contract and terms and conditions which limit your liabilities to acceptable proportions, and save yourself the insurance premium.

Working as a freelance artist, I get paid sometimes not in cash but by getting a business favour in return. These favours help me for commercial exposure. How do I deal with this?

This is what we call a payment "in kind". You don’t get paid in cash, but in some other form or substance that is of value to you. If it weren’t of value to you, you wouldn’t be doing the work in the first place. The problem with payments in kind is that they are taxable. You need to put a price on them and add them to your taxable income. This is pretty stingy because you'd rather have had cash in the first place. And now you're going to pay taxes over money you're NOT getting. But this is the way the law goes.

Can I freelance next to my regular job as an employee at a company?

There is no law or rule that forbids this, so yes you can. Just sign op an EZ business at the Chamber of Commerce and off you go. Be mindful of three things:

(i) Make sure your employer is on board with this. If you’re not sure, look in your employment contract. If you plan to go rogue, please bear in mind that big companies regularly check the online registers at www.kvk.nl. They will find you.

(ii) If you have regular employment, you de-facto don’t get the regular freelance tax benefits because you will not meet the demands (most importantly the 1224 hours per year norm).

(iii) You need to pay full taxes over your secondary income as a freelancer. If you already have a regular job that pays you salary, any additional income will be added on top of that and therefore taxed in a higher tax bracket. You need to declare this the year after, along with your regular income and then pay up income tax. Make sure you pre-calculate and reserve your due taxes.

Do I have to use a business bank account, or can I use my private bank account for my freelancing?

Your Dutch freelance company needs a separate business account for you to receive the revenues for your work on. Dutch banks can be challenging to get into. But your Dutch business doesn't need to have a Dutch bank account. You can also try to obtain a bank account at an online foreign bank like Finom.co or Wise.com.

Can you help us with my accounting requirements for my freelance company?

Feel free to reach out to our accounting partner via here. They offer accessible accounting services for a reasonable price. They usually include your personal income tax returns as a free extra service.

I am setting up my freelance business now, so when can I finally get to work for my clients?

This goes in three steps:
1. You can sign a freelance (or similar) contract with your clients from the date of registration of your freelance company (ZZP or BV).
2. You can start invoicing your clients from the date you have a VAT number for your freelance company (takes at least 2 weeks after registration).
3. If working from a BV, you can start payrolling yourself and receiving salary in your BV from the moment you get your BSN number.

I’m doing freelancing jobs from the Netherlands, but my clients mostly come from elsewhere. Where does that leave me?

If you are a tax resident in the Netherlands, you pay your taxes here. It doesn’t matter where your clients come from. If you have only one client, for whom your working remotely from the Netherlands, that does not change your tax residency. It does mean that you’re not actually considered an “independent business owner” as mentioned in the first question, and cannot claim the benefits that go along with that.

Can my eenmanszaak remain in the Netherlands if I decide to move out of the country?

Important here is the perspective of the Dutch Tax Authorities. You cannot run a business in the Netherlands if you don't actually work here and remain a tax resident here for income tax purposes. It is of course possible you work out of the country for a while, but not 100%. So you can keep the Dutch Eenmanszaak as long as you keep some clients in the Netherlands to work for. In that case, you could keep the ZZP advantages as well when you declare your income here.

As a Freelancer, do I have to charge VAT to my clients?

As a rule you should always charge your clients 21% VAT within the Netherlands. If you charge business clients in another country, you are normally required to charge 0% VAT. If you charge natural persons outside the EU, you charge 0% VAT. Inside the EU you charge 21 % (as a main rule). Beware that your invoice to an EU business client must always contain the VAT ID number of that client, and you must verify if that VAT ID number is indeed correct at the VIES records.

Remember that VAT is a consumer tax, so any VAT paid or charged in a business relationship is to be reclaimed or repaid.

I heard there is also a way of getting exempt from VAT obligations. How does that work?

The Dutch Taxation system exempts certain small entrepreneurs from VAT obligations. The so-called "Kleine Ondernemersregeling", or KOR for short, is aimed at entrepreneurs who earn at most € 20,000 per calendar year. It doesn't matter whether you work from an eenmanszaak or BV, as long as you're registered in the Netherlands. This really only benefits you if you work for consumers only, as they cannot reclaim the VAT they pay you (VAT is a consumer tax, after all). Not having to charge VAT to them lowers your invoices by as much as 21%. And of course it relieves you of the burden of keeping a VAT administration and doing VAT returns. But beware: being VAT exempt means you cannot reclaim paid VAT on expenses either. In general this is the rule: if your costs are low, you have mostly end-consumers as clients and/or you work in services and advice, the KOR may be for you. Otherwise, it may be wise to stay away. This is especially the case when you're active in the purchase and sale of goods (for example: a webshop).

What kind of accounting obligations can I expect?

This depends on whether your are freelancing from a BV of a EZ. Freelancing from a BV, there are a number of requirements. They are all explained here. If you are looking for a good accountant, feel free to reach out to our accounting partner via here.
If you are working from an EZ, there are mainly 2 things to worry about : Income Tax and VAT. Income tax is what everybody else in the Netherlands is subject to, only you need to keep a record of income and expenses in your EZ. The resulting profit is taxed as income.

What do you recommend for bookkeeping software or accountant?

Many Dutch entrepreneurs are happy users of Moneybird.com. It is very easy to use and works very professionally. You can get this 120 days free if you click on this link. Afterwards they charge around € 12 per month. You can bail out any time. We suggest you try it out. If you are looking for an affordable accountant, feel free to reach out to our friends at UWBS.

Can you benefit from mortgage deduction if you are a freelancer

Mortgage interest deduction is a tax break for Dutch home owners. You can apply it to any type of income, including income from a ZZP/eenmanszaak or a BV.

Can you use this as a freelancer as well?

The answer is : yes. This works either when working from a BV or from an EZ. You apply the deduction yourself at your yearly income tax returns. Now actually getting a mortgage as a freelancer is a whole different matter of course, but once you have it you can use it like any other employee.

What changes do you expect for freelancers in the near future?

Freelancers working from a BV will not encounter many changes. Freelancers working from an EZ can expect the "zelfstandigen aftrek" tax break to drop from to € 7,030 to € 6,670. It is also likely that the Dutch government will issue a new law in 2021 that obliges EZ owners to take up a disability insurance of circa € 250 - € 500 per month (depending on the situation). This is intended to bridge the gap between employees and freelancers.

Am I entitled to unemployment benefits or continued payments when I’m ill?

If you are a freelancer working from a ZZP/eenmanszaak, you are on your own when it comes to illness or unemployment. In a normal employment relationship, this is covered by way of the employer’s insurance premiums paid over the salary. These premiums are not paid for freelancers (in an EZ) so they are not covered by these benefits.

If you are a freelancer working from a BV, your are covered here because you are pay rolled in your own BV as a director. But of course, the BV needs to pay for this out of your earnings.

Am I entitled to a pension as a freelancer?

No you are not. Nobody in the Netherlands, including a regular employee, is automatically or by law entitled to a pension. So as a freelancer you can forget about this. Pension rights are only accrued as part of a remuneration package expressly agreed upon between an employer and an employee. Alternatively, anybody can sign up for a pension scheme in the Netherlands by their own action (and monthly contribution).

Self employed persons in the Netherlands are instead well advised to take out an annuity (or "lijfrente" in Dutch) in order to cover their pension requirements.

Do I have to get obligatory disability insurances as a freelancer?

No, but for ZZP/eenmanszaak freelancers there is a slight chance that this may change in the future.

How do I make the choice between freelancing from a BV or from a ZZP/eenmanszaak?

Mainly for one factor : your income. If you earn € 100,000 per year or more, the tax burden in the BV is more attractive than in the ZZP/eenmanszaak. If you work from a BV, you can save up income untaxed in your BV and only have to pay yourself a certain salary (€ 56,000 per year, 2024). The rest of the income you collected in your BV you can use for : investments in business ventures or providing loans and mortgages to yourself. You can als choose to pay yourself an amount in dividends, which is taxed considerably lower than income tax (26,9%, 2024). Also, a BV is necessary if you want to make use of the 30% ruling for expats as a freelancer. Lastly, a BV might be a good idea if you feel you’re vulnerable to personal liability in the course of your freelancing work.

I’m a freelancer and one company hires me to work for its clients. This way I work on a lot of different gigs, but in the end I’m only dealing with one company. Will this still be considered a freelancing job ?

No. Dutch contract law and Dutch Tax law are two separate things. You can have a freelance agreement that states you are a freelancer, but Tax Law looks at the actual situation of your freelancing. See the factors mentioned in the first question. These are pretty strict rules. The circumstances of your work also need to be embedded in a good Dutch freelance contract . But you need to adhere to them in practice, too.

In this case, the Tax Authorities would declare there is an employment relationship. Even though you're working for multiple different clients, these are not your clients but your client’s clients. These clients are therefore better called “projects”.

As a result of this situation, your employer would be due some back employer’s taxes over your wages, you would be charged some social security taxes and you would forfeit your freelance tax advantages.

My contract is based on results. There is no retainer fee. So is he still considered a client even when I don’t get paid ?

Yes. This is quintessentially a freelance contract. Working no-cure-no-pay actually means you're running a huge business risk. So yes, this is a client. Does this help you towards the “minimum 3 clients criterium” ? Yes it does. But remember, you need to spread out your earnings over multiple clients as well. Never 70% or more from one client.

Can my client just decide on my rates? I should be deciding the rates because I’m the freelancer here after all.

Yes. Formally the rule is : you should set your rates as a freelancer, but freelancing is doing business after all. And if you have a dominant client, they are likely to make the first offer. If they won’t budge, you can always walk. So if your client sets your rates, this does not necessarily change your freelancing status.

Can I make use of the 30% ruling when working as a freelancer?

Yes you can, as long as you freelance from a BV. From an EZ this is not possible. It is a tricky process though, as you need to stick to the requirements for normal employees being hired from abroad and correctly incorporate your business in the Netherlands. Check out this article about setting up a BV+30% ruling for more info. In another article we explain the difference between the BV+30% ruling and ZZP/eenmanszaak.