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The Netherlands

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European Union
The Netherlands

The Netherlands plays a key role in a globalised economy.  Its success is based on strategic location, cutting – edge infrastructure and world – class service providers.

The Netherlands is a constitutional monarchy with King Willem-Alexander as the head of state since he succeeded his mother Queen (now Princess) Beatrix in 2013.  The King is married to Queen Máxima and has three children. The official language in the Netherlands is Dutch, but approximately 90% of all Dutch people can speak some English.

Located in North West Europe, the capital city of the Netherlands is Amsterdam and the seat of government is The Hague. The Netherlands is made up of 12 provinces and borders the North Sea to the north and west, Belgium to the south, and Germany to the east. It is a geographically low – lying country, with about 20% of its area and 21% of its population located below sea level (It measures 41.543 sq. km, 7,650 of which is water). The highest point is 322 meters above sea level and the lowest 7 meters below sea level. The Netherlands has a temperate marine climate. The average temperatures are 16 degrees C in summer and 3 degrees C in winter. The Netherlands has a population of 17 million people.  The current and projected population growth is high compared to international standards, which is a promising sign for the future availability of Dutch employees.  During the first decade of the 21st century, the relative population growth in The Netherlands was higher than in the European Union as a whole.

The Netherlands uses the Euro as its national currency since 2002.  Its most important trading partners are Germany, Belgium, France, and the United Kingdom.

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Ranked No 4 in the world by Forbes’ “Best Countries for Business”, The Netherlands is truly a world – class business destination.  Holland’s strategic location at Europe’s front door provides the perfect springboard into the European market – with access to 95% of Europe’s most lucrative consumer markets within 24 hours of Amsterdam or Rotterdam.

Add to that Holland’s supportive corporate tax structure, highly educated, multilingual workforce, and superior logistics and technology infrastructure and it’s no wonder so many multinational businesses – from small nad mid – sized to Fortune 500 leaders – have chosen The Netherlands as their gateway to Europe.

Ranked No 1 on DHL’s Global Connectedness Index, The Netherlands has a competitive international climate and is home to 15,000 foreign companies.  In fact, 50% of Dutch GDP is derived internationally.

With a competitive statutory corporate income tax rate in Europe – 19% on the first €200,000 and 25% for taxable profits exceeding €200,000 – the Dutch tax system has a number of attractive features for international companies:

* A wide network of nearly 100 bilateral tax treaties to avoid double taxation and to provide, in many cases, reduced or no witholding tax dividends, interest, and royalties.
* Clarity and certainty in advance on the tax consequences of proposed major investments in The Netherlands
* A broad participation exemption (100% exemption for qualifying dividends and capital gains), which is vital for European headquarters.
* An efficient fiscal unity regime, providing tax consolidation for Dutch activities within a corporate group
* No statutory withholding tax on outgoing interest and royalty payments
* Favorable expat tax program with a 30% personal tax income advantage for qualified, skilled foreign employees.

The Dutch tax ruling practice has a 30 year track record of being fully in line with OECD standards.  And thanks to The Netherlands’ stable government and highly accessible and cooperative tax administration, companies can feel confident that any adjustments will be implemented in such a way that maintains attractiveness for foreign investors, minimizes impediments for business, and guarantees cooperation and transparency from tax authorities.

Thanks to the stability of the Dutch government and its pragmatic approach to business, very little time is lost to labor disputes or labor relations in The Netherlands compared with Europe as a whole.  Trade union density (25%) and days lost to strikes and sick time are also low compared to other European countries.  A model of efficiency and dedication, the Dutch workforce sets the pace for European productivity.  In fact, the 2014 IMD World Competitiveness Report 2014 ranks The Netherlands third globally for workforce productivity.

The Netherlands also outpaces many of its competitors when it comes to workforce flexibility and adaptability.  Plus, with its high standard of living and relatively low cost of living, The Netherlands provides a solid foundation for healthy, happy workers and diplomatic employer – employee relations.

The Netherlands is extremely competitive compared to many other European countries when it comes to overall labor costs.  For many years, The Netherlands has seen moderate wage increases, achieved by collective bargaining and political stability, causing labor costs to rise less than those in surrounding countries.  Wages in The Netherlands depend on minimum wage regulations, working time regulations (including shift work and overtime compensation), social security benefits, and labor productivity.  Good working attitudes, flexible hours and highly efficient processing help to preserve high worker productivity, offering a high return on the cost of labor.

The Netherlands offers businesses a highly educated, skilled, and flexible talent pool.  The Dutch higher education system graduates a steady stream of quality candidates with the skills and attitudes to meet today’s business demands.  Plus, 90% of the Dutch population is fluent in English – the primary business language in The Netherlands – and a higher percentage speaks German and French than their counterparts elsewhere. 

A large portion of the Dutch population is in the economically “active” age range (15 – 64 years) and the availability of skilled labor outpaces major competitors, including France, Italy, Luxembourg, the UK, and Spain.  The Dutch workforce also outranks many of its competitors when it comes to productivity, largestly as a result of Holland’s high standard of education and training, pragmatic labor laws, and a commitment to IT investment.

As an internationally oriented country, The Netherlands is also home to more than one million foreign workers and offers a “Highly Skilled Migrant Visa”, which allows companies to bring highly qualified expats to their Netherlands operations.  Part – time and temporary labor is also readily available and flexible contracts are easy to negotiate compared with other countries.

Home to 14 universities, 34 universities of professional education, and a variety of specialized training facilities, The Netherlands has one fo the top 10 education systems in the world.  The Dutch higher education and training system – ranked No 4 globally – is geared towards meeting the needs of today’s businesses and keeping the economy competitive by graduating a steady stream of highly skilled workers.  As a result, businesses in The Netherlands benefit from the assurance that labor is ready when they need it, for as long as they need it.

From the Delft University of Technology – a top 20 university for engineering and technology – to Wageningen Unviersity – one of three top global agrifood universities – to the Technical University of Eindhoven – considered the third most influential for scientific research in Europe – The Netherlands institutions of higher learning are raising the bar on education.

Fueled by world – class research institutes and public – private partnerships between academia, industry, and government, The Netherlands also has a rich tradition of looking across borders to advance growth of its thriving Agri / Food, IT, Chemicals, High Tech Systems, Life Sciences & Health, Creative, and other sectors.

Ranked No. 5 in the EU on the 2016 European Innovation Scoreboard, The Netherlands is home to an attractive test market, adaptive consumers, and an open culture.  As one of the world’s most multicultural hubs for creative talent, Holland is, simply put, a great place to bring ideas to life.


The Netherlands actively promotes engaging in Research & Development activities through a favorable corporate tax system and specific R&D incentives that support innovation throughout the entire R&D lifecycle.  The following measures may significantly lower company R&D cost and taxable base.

R&D Tax Credit (WBSO)
Companies performing particular R&D activities may benefit from a 32% tax credit *up to 40% for start – ups) of the first €350,000 in R&D wage costs and other R&D expenses and investments, and 16% for those costs and investments exceeding €350,000.

Innovation Box
Companies may benefit from an effective tax rate of only 7% for income from tangible assets – including technological innovations – created by the Dutch tax payer and for which R&D tax credit was received.

Allowance for Public – Private Partnerships in R&D (PPS Allowance)
R&D partnerships between public entities and private partners may receive cash grants of 40% on the private investment costs for the first €20,000 and 30% for the excess.  The cash grant has to be invested in the R*D project of the partnership.

Innovation Credit
Innovation Credit is a risk bearing loan from the government for the technical or clinical development of a new product, process, or service.  Funding may vary from 25% for large – scale companies to 35% for medium sized companies, and 45% for small companies, of relevant project costs with a maximum of €10 million, and the remainder being financed by the company’s own resources.

The Netherlands offers a number of measures to facilitate work and residence procedures for foreign workers, includign the “Highly Skilled Migrant Visa”, which allows business to bring uniquely qualified international talent to live and work in The Netherlands for a maximum of five years.  To qualify as a highly skilled migrant, the foreign employee must earn a minimum gross monly income of €4,404 or €3,229 if under 30.  Employers wishing to employ highly skilled migrants are no longer required to apply for work permits and must submit only an Admission and Residence application for those employees.

Intra – Corporate Transferees, labor migrants, and self – employed individuals from outside the EU / EEA may also apply for work and residence permits and highly educated foreign nationals may apply for a one – year permit to search for a job.  Employers must apply for a work and residence permit on behalf of these employees.


Ranked No 3 in the world for overall logistics performance, The Netherlands is home to world class seaports, centrally located airports, an extensive network of roads and highways and the second highest quality broadband network in Europe.

Driven by world – class seaports and airports, an extensive network of roads and rail, and a 100% digital telecommunications network that ranks among the world’s best for quality, speed, and reliability, Holland’s infrastructure is one of the best on the planet.

The Netherland’s dense, high – quality infrastructure offers fast connections no matter how or where you and your products or services are travelling.  And with access to 160 million consumers within 24 hours of Amsterdam or Rotterdam, companies that choose The Netherlands have the perfect springboard into the European market.

With the highest broadband penetration per capita in the world – 99% of all households – as well as one of the world’s fastest average broadband speeds, The Netherlands is one of Europe’s most wired and cyber – secure countries.  It also directly links continental Europe to North America, with most transatlantic sea cables going directly to The Netherlands.

Holland’s state – of – the – art, 100% digital advanced fiber – optic network supports an innovative community of start – ups, data centers, and multinational digital companies including Microsoft, Cisco, Tata, Infosys, Huawei, Oracle, Intel, IBM, Verizon, and Google.  Amsterdam, in particular, has become a digital hub in recent years thanks to the presence of AMS – IX: the world’s leading Internet exchange point.

Plus, Holland’s world – class resources and dynamic start – up climate are drawing in an expanding array of providers and helping to steadily decrease tariffs and further improve cost competitiveness, making The Netherlands one of the best values in Europe.  

Holland’s extensive, modern network of roads and highways serves as a major asset to companies looking to establish logistics / distribution operations in Europe.  Interlaced with more than 139,000 km of roads, including 3,055 km of limited – access, high – speed motorways, The Netherlands ranks first in the EU and fifth worldwide for the quality of its roads.  This makes Holland a top location for international road freight transportation.  The Dutch rail system is no less impressive, with 3,055 km of network rail with direct connections to inland container terminals and links to destinations across the EU, Scandinavia, and the Middle East.  And thanks to Holland’s three high – speed rail lines and the Betuweroute – the double – track freight railway that connects Rotterdam to the German border – companies have fast, direct access to Europe’s major logistics hub.

Home to award – winning Amsterdam Airport Schiphol and four regional airports that also offer international services, The Netherlands has one of the highest ranking air transport infrastructures in the world.  For 30 years, Amsterdam Airport Schiphol has won almost 200 European and global airport awards from both airline and passenger organizations, making it Europe’s top airport for cargo and passenger transport.  Plus, it’s located within an hour and a half of all major Dutch cities via the country’s dense and sophisticated network of highways and secondary roads.  Holland’s world – class airports combined with its strategic location gives companies a significant edge in reaching millions of consumers across Europe, the Middle East, and Africa.

Home to world – class, deep – water ports, many rivers, and a dynamic network of canals, The Netherlands has the best port infrastructure in the world.  The Port of Rotterdam, Europe’s largest and most important harbor, can reach all major industrial and economic centers in Western Europe in less than 24 hours – providing companies with the perfect springboard into the European market.  The Port of Amsterdam, Europe’s fifth largest port, is another major asset for logistics and distribution operations.  In all, Dutch ports move more than 580 million metric tons annually.


Ranked as the sixth happiest place on earth by the World Happiness Report, The Netherlands has a high standard of living with a lower cost of living than most European countries.  The Netherlands offers a favorable living environment with an exceptional quality of life.  There is a large variety of property to choose from and while rental pricing is somewhat higher than other European countries, it is much lower than European capitals such as London or Paris.  If you choose to buy rather than to rent, interest paid on mortgage is fully deductable from your income tax return, if your property is used as primary residence and you are registered as a resident taxpayer.

What’s more, The Netherlands has a special tax regime for expats – the 30% ruling – which provides a substantial income – tax exemption (up to 30%) for a period of up to 60 months.  The employer may also reimburse certain costs tax free, including international school fees, relocation expenses, and moving allowance up to a certain amount.  This is viewed as a reimbursement of the extra costs that come with living abroad.

  1. YOU CAN’T BEAT OUR LOCATION: We’re no island.  We’re on the continent, close to Europe’s 500 million consumers, not to mention your business customers.
  2. OUR INFRASTRUCTURE IS FIRST CLASS: Our world – class airport, top – ranked seaports, and high – speed road, rail, and broadband networks are second to none.
  3. WE ARE FLUENT IN ENGLISH: Some 90% of Dutch speak English – the language of business worldwide – and many people are multilingual.
  4. WE HAVE AN AWESOME BUSINESS CLIMATE: Just ask Petronas, Basis Bay, Sime Darby, IOI Corporation, and hundreds of other multinationals thriving in Holland.
  5. WE ROLL OUT THE ORANGE CARPET: The Netherlands Foriegn Investment Agency offers free, confidential services to make starting up, rolling out, and expanding your company easy in The Netherlands.