The Netherlands is a prime location for US businesses looking to set up operations in Europe. And with its high levels of English, exceptional transport links, and deep-rooted culture of innovation, it’s no wonder that so many companies are looking to make the move. Derek Knetter oversees the dedicated US-Netherlands desk at Bol International. He’s helped many such companies navigate the administrative intricacies of the Dutch business landscape and make their transition to the European market a success.
Below, Derek discusses his own experiences as an expat, what makes the Netherlands so welcoming for US businesses, and his expert advice for any companies thinking of putting down roots in this dynamic and welcoming environment.
How did you come to start your journey in the Netherlands?
Having grown up and attended college in Wisconsin, I was keen to spread my wings and experience life in a different part of the world. My partner speaks Spanish and has Polish citizenship, so Europe felt like a natural jumping-off point for both of us. I began working with a recruiter that had been in contact with Bol International in the past and was able to put me in touch about an exciting opportunity on the firm’s US-Netherlands Desk. We made the move to Nijmegen in September 2021, and we’ve not looked back!
Have you experienced a “culture shock” since leaving the US?
To be honest, I’ve found it fairly easy to acclimate to life in the Netherlands. The fact that the level of English here is so high certainly helps, particularly as – like many Americans – I don’t speak any other languages. What takes more time are the little things like registering with the municipality and arranging your BSN (Dutch citizen service) number. Then it’s just a case of getting to know the community you’re in and getting settled in your new life.
What makes the Dutch business climate so favorable for US companies?
The first factor would undoubtedly be the language – speaking from experience, it makes coming over here that much easier. And secondly, the Netherlands has an excellent standard of infrastructure, and the convenience of having a major shipping port – Rotterdam – on your doorstep is a dream if you’re importing and exporting. So, from a US perspective, all these factors make the Netherlands an ideal base for starting or expanding your European operation.
What kinds of US companies are settling in the Netherlands?
We’re currently seeing a lot of interest from small and medium-sized US companies and start-ups that are looking to expand into Europe. And there is a huge range of industries represented, from eyewear to pharmaceuticals! It’s a really vibrant, varied business community. From the moment I started, we were hearing from a lot of potential US clients, and that volume has only continued to grow during my time here.
What advice would you give to a US company looking to set up shop in the Netherlands?
The first element to consider is whether you’re going to be bringing employees over from the US to the Netherlands or hiring locally. That raises a whole host of questions, in terms of the differences in payroll and HR. You’ve also got to think about how VAT (value-added tax) will affect your new business entity. That’s something you don’t have in quite the same way in the US, so it will take some getting used to. Finally, and this is a big one, in the Netherlands, most companies – regardless of size – are obliged to file annual financial statements, which isn’t the case for smaller companies in the US. Find yourself a good accountant!
What should companies consider before coming to the Netherlands? And where does Bol International come in?
Even if your plans are still at a very early stage, Bol International can help you make your move a success. The first step is to discuss your ultimate goal in terms of what the business is going to do here in the Netherlands, and whether you’re looking to establish additional subsidiaries in Europe, for instance. Then, we can offer advice on what the best corporate structure would be, and we can accompany you in setting up your legal entity and registering with the Chamber of Commerce. Now, your business operations can begin!
But the support we offer doesn’t stop there: we can guide you through every aspect of the Dutch business landscape, from payroll and financials to international tax and statutory audits. So, you can leave the administrative legwork to the experts and focus on doing what you do best.
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 market, get in contact today!