How to move your American startup to the Netherlands

How to move your American startup to the Netherlands

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Many Americans have been declaring for the last few weeks “If Trumps wins, I’ll leave the country”. Now that the Trump presidency is a fact (and we still can’t believe we’re typing these words) we would like to take the opportunity to explain American entrepreneurs how they can move their company to the Netherlands, or better yet even start it here.

Why move your US startup to Amsterdam

While most American entrepreneurs, looking to exit the “United States of Trump”, are looking at Canada, it is safe to assume a fair few are exploring other options as well. So first of all let’s play “Captain Obvious” for a moment and point out why Amsterdam should be among the top picks to consider:

  • It’s a beautiful city
  • Everyone speaks English
  • The startup scene is buzzing,
  • and you’re a short flight or trainride away from other hubs like London, Paris, Frankfurt and Berlin.

Amsterdam is also the third most favourite startup city in Europe. Getting in isn’t easy, but it is definitely possible due to the DAFT agreement and the special Startup Visa.

That doesn’t sound DAFT at all!

The Dutch-American Friendship Treaty has been active for 60 years as it’s signed in 1956. This agreement makes it easier for US entrepreneurs to set up shop in the Netherlands. Due to this treaty, the amount of required investment capital for US entrepreneurs is only €4500 where it otherwise is €27000. Americans looking to start a business are also exempt from the points-based test. The permit is valid for two years and can be extended. First there are the obvious conditions: you need to have a passport, you can’t have a criminal record, and you need to be okay with doing a Tuberculosis Test when you first enter the country. Still checking all the boxes? Then let’s continue.

Innovation as a requirement

A US expat can request the form upon entering the country, and is able to live her while the request is pending. Please note it is not yet allowed to work in the country during this stage. During this time, the Dutch Enterprise agency RVO will process your request. Find out their criteria here. A key requirement is that you are bringing an innovative business, one that is new to the country. In order to maintain a permit, one also needs a BSN number (Dutch social security number), KVK number (Chambre of commerce registration) and a bank account.

Make the expatcenter your first stop

The best way to get an idea of how all this really works is to ask an actual  American entrepreneur. We spoke with US citizen Josh Petras, CMO at startup Red Tulip Systems (can a startup have a more Dutch sounding name than that?) about his experiences. His number one tip is to make the expatcenter your first point of contact when requesting your permit. “They are so helpful, they really are your one-stop shop”.

No lawyers

Josh also points out it is not necessary to hire lawyers to arrange their permits, eventhough many Americans tend to do so: “We sort of did it the hard way, as we hired attorneys to arrange everything for us. After getting here we realized we probably could’ve done most of it ourselves.” Although it helps to be in the country already when arranging everything, according to Josh most of that can be done remotely.

Startup Visa

Since 2015 there is also the possibility to get a Dutch startup visa. The ‘scheme for startups’ gives entrepreneurs one year to get their business up and running. They need to receive guiding from an accelerator or an incubator in order to be eligible. But there is many of them, like Startup Delta, Startup Bootcamp, Rockstart and Ace Venture Lab, to name just a few.

Useful links

Although getting a DAFT permit or a Startup Visa is relatively easy compared to other residence permits, there is still a half forest worth of paperwork involved in actually obtaining one. And it is very easy to lose sight of that forest through the many trees. There is a lot of information to process, and it takes a lot of preparation to start a successful business in the Netherlands. This article only covers the tip of the iceberg. There are plenty more links worth checking out.

  1. The Daftvisa wordpress site list the requirements
  2. US expat Bradley Charbonneau wrote another very useful article in which even included the link to the form so keen entrepreneurs can get started straight away.

Let us know if you have any more questions, and good luck with your application. We are looking forward to write about your Holland based startup soon.

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