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Start a Business in TopDutch

The TopDutch region is leading in developing green and digital solutions for global economic, social and ecological challenges. Doing that requires not just established companies, but also the innovating thinking of start-ups. That’s why we have a number of opportunities for (foreign) talent to set up business in the region.

Start-up in residence

The province of Groningen is one of the several Dutch governmental organizations who partake in the ‘start-up in residence’ scheme. This is an incubator-style program that matches start-ups who are solving critical economic, environmental or societal challenges with experienced and successful mentors. The start-ups go through an intensive five month training: starting with a kick off, followed by learning the basics, optioning and decision-making, and finally validating and prototyping. Once the idea has been shaped into an exceptional working product, the province acts as launching customer, and will help get the product to market. This is a highly selective program, and applications run once a year, so be sure to check the start-up in residence website often for updates.

Start-up residence permit

The TopDutch region is leading in developing green and digital solutions for global economic, social Innovation should know no borders. The start-up residence permit is a temporary, one-year visa in which promising entrepreneurs from non-EU/EEA countries can apply to set-up a business in the TopDutch region. After one year, talent can apply for a further self-employment residence permit, which is gained through a points-based system. In order to apply for a start-up residence permit, there are a number of requirements talent must meet: 

  • A step-by-step business plan: This should primarily show that the product or service is innovative; followed by the structure of the organization, detailing the entrepreneur’s active role; and also an in-depth one-year plan of activities. 

  • A facilitator agreement: Facilitators are experienced start-up facilitators, who act as a mentor that will support you in your specific business needs; whether that be marketing, investment acquisition, research etc. We have a number of recognized facilitators in the TopDutch region. Once you’ve come to an arrangement with one of our facilitators, your agreement must be signed officially, detailing the facilitator’s role in supporting you. It is important to note that the facilitator cannot be the majority shareholder in your business.
    In the TopDutch region we have a specialized team ready to support innovative start-ups to locate in the region. Get in touch with the team at StartUp Visa NL and they will act as a mediator, to help you find a match with one of our facilitators and get the ball rolling. Once you've arrived in the region, they'll help you settle into the TopDutch start-up scene.  

  • Proof of sufficient financial means: You must be able to support yourself through the year. The minimum funds you need are set out on the website of the IND under the minimum income requirements for a self-employed person, and is either to be put-up by yourself or your facilitator, depending on your agreement. The whole 12 months funds must be in a Dutch bank account at the time of application. As you must be a Dutch resident to set up a Dutch bank account, you may have to have a bank account opened by an official third-party, such as a notary, in your name. 

  • Registration with the Dutch Chamber of Commerce: Both the entrepreneur and the facilitator must be registered with the Chamber of Commerce (Kamer van Koophandel) before applying. This must be done in person at the Chamber of Commerce offices or in a notary’s office. 

  • An MVV entry visa: This can be acquired at the same time as the start-up residence permit in the Dutch embassy in your home country. Not everyone needs an MVV entry visa, applicants from Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Japan, Monaco, Vatican City, United States of America, or South Korea are exempt. If you already have one, it can be also be converted to a start-up residence permit through the same application process.  

If you have met all the requirements for application, the facilitator will apply for the start-up residence visa through the business portal. Full details of the start-up residence permit can be found on the IND website


If you want to set-up as a freelancer or a one-person business in the TopDutch region, you can register as a self-employed professional (zelfstandige zonder personeel - ZZP’er). This could be as a full-term business in the Netherlands or on a specific assignment. There is not one legal structure for self-employment in the Netherlands, but many choose to either register as a one-man business (eenmanszaak) or a private limited company (besloten vennootschap, BV). 

If you or a family member are a citizen of an EU/EEA/Swiss country,  you have the automatic right to start self-employment in the Netherlands. If not, you can apply for a self-employment visa. The requirements for application of a self-employment visa are:

  • You provide a service of essential interest to the Dutch economy. This is assessed on a scoring-based system, taking into account 1) your personal experience including education, professional experience and entrepreneurship, 2) your business plan, 3) the added-value for the Netherlands e.g. innovation, employment creation, investments.
  • You are registered with the Trade Register of the Chamber of Commerce (KvK) in the Netherlands.
  • You meet all the requirements needed to carry out your work in the Netherlands i.e. licenses, qualifications etc.
  • It is clear from your business plan that you will be able to earn a sufficient income from your self-employed activities.
  • If you are a freelancer you must show at least one assignment already arranged in the Netherlands.

Full explanation and requirements can be found on the IND website.  

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