Stephen Bruton played a key role in setting up the Bol International UK desk in 2019, and since then he’s helped countless UK businesses set up operations in the Netherlands. We caught up with Stephen to find out what a UK firm needs to start trading in this welcoming and strategically located country.
How did you come to start your journey in the Netherlands?
I originally followed my wife when she moved here for work in 2019, and when I saw I could put my accountancy training to good use at Bol International, I jumped at the chance! It’s really satisfying being able to help people looking to move their operations here, and I can see why they stay. On top of the obvious business case, the quality of life’s excellent, and it’s great if you have children – my son has just started school and he already speaks better Dutch than me!
What makes the Netherlands such a desirable location for UK companies and entrepreneurs?
Despite its relatively small size, the Netherlands is known as the “gateway to Europe”: it’s home to the biggest port on the continent – Rotterdam – and it’s the second-largest agricultural exporter in the world. Thanks to its exceptional infrastructure and the high level of English proficiency, it really is the perfect European launchpad for UK companies – allowing you to avoid the administrative headache of exporting to Europe post-Brexit by setting up a B.V. (the Dutch version of a ‘limited company’).
What kind of companies are settling in the Netherlands?
Ever since the UK announced its exit from the European Union, there’s been an upsurge in businesses from all over the UK expanding or moving to the Netherlands – and securing preferential access to the single market. Here at Bol International, we help companies of all sizes. I’ve worked with private entrepreneurs, famous baseball cap makers, consultancies, chicken-coop manufacturers, and everything in between! But whatever your situation, we’ve got all the local connections to give you the best possible chance of success.
What should UK companies consider before moving to the Netherlands?
I arrived just before Brexit came into effect, as the influx of UK companies was picking up pace – and the biggest “culture shocks” for UK firms were undoubtedly VAT and payroll. Since the UK’s now considered a “third country” for VAT and customs purposes, it’s handy to have someone like Bol International in your corner. We can guide you through the various administrative processes, like VAT returns, Article 23 licenses, and EC sales lists. And payroll’s a whole other story! There’s a mountain of compliance work that needs to be done when making employment contracts – in Dutch and English – and dealing with different stages of the employee lifecycle. But with Bol International, you’ll be prepared for anything that Dutch bureaucracy can throw at you!
At what point can Bol International start offering its services?
We can step in and help at any stage of your Dutch business journey – whether you’ve already incorporated a B.V. and want us to do your annual accounts, or if you’ve got no idea where to start! If you’re starting from scratch, the first stage would be an initial discussion about your plans and which services you’ll need. Then we’ll put you in contact with a solicitor to help you incorporate your B.V.
After that, we can help you sort out employment contracts and set you up with a VAT number to make importing and exporting a breeze. We’ll also help you stay on top of regular, time-sensitive processes like VAT returns and annual reporting – ensuring you’re fully compliant every step of the way. And we’ll even get the legal teams we work with to look over your lease agreements when it comes to finding premises.
Why should people choose Bol International in your opinion?
In short, you’ll get a more personal service and more tailored advice than you would with the larger firms. We always offer a dedicated point of contact for our clients, meaning you’ll have constant access to me or a member of my highly skilled team, and we’re very responsive. In my opinion, this is one of the key advantages that set us apart from the competition – including the major professional services multinationals: we’re always at the other end of the phone or email when you need us, so you’ll be in control at every stage of your business journey in the Netherlands.
Bol International offers a one-stop-shop solution for setting up and running your international business operations in the Netherlands. So, if you’re looking to enter or expand in the European continent, get in contact today!