DAFT: How U.S. Freelancers Can Live And Work In The Netherlands

Are you an American entrepreneur who is thinking of moving to the Netherlands? Cardon & Company B.V. can help you apply for the DAFT visa, which gives eligible U.S. citizens the right to live and work in the Netherlands.

The Dutch-American Friendship Treaty (DAFT) is an agreement which grants U.S. entrepreneurs and freelancers a work and residence permit in the Netherlands. The treaty is meant to foster economic growth between the two countries and is a way for self-employed Americans to migrate to the Netherlands.

The DAFT visa is valid for two years and you can apply for a permanent Dutch residency permit after five years.

1. Preparation

Whether you are a self-employed freelancer or you are the owner of a thriving U.S. business looking to expand into the Dutch market, entrepreneurs of all types are welcome to apply for the DAFT visa.

Furthermore, there are no requirements as to the type of business nor type of customers of said business that can apply for the visa.

DAFT visa eligibility requirements

In order to be eligible for the DAFT visa, you must meet the following criteria:

  • You hold a U.S. passport
  • You do not have a record of “misbehaviour” in the Netherlands
  • You will migrate to the Netherlands and start a business here
  • You will invest at least 4.500 euros of starting capital into your new business.
  • You have an original, certified birth certificate for you as well as any dependents or family members you bring along to the Netherlands.

2. Choosing a business type

The first thing that you need to do is decide what type of company you want to establish in the Netherlands. You can choose between a Private limited company (B.V.) or an Eensmanszaak (ZZP), depending on your company’s expected revenue.

Private limited company (B.V.)

You should declare your business as a B.V. if:

  • You expect to earn more than 60.000 euros from your business annually
  • You have never lived or worked in the Netherlands before

If you meet the above criteria, you may be eligible for the 30% tax ruling, which gives you 30% of your income tax-free, with the remaining 70% subject to tax. In order to get this tax advantage under DAFT, you must set up a B.V.

30% ruling

To get the 30% ruling, you must register your business as a B.V. and enter into an employment contract with your company. This must be done before migrating to the Netherlands, otherwise you will not receive the 30% ruling.

Other benefits of having a B.V. and the 30% ruling include:

  • Relocation costs which are expensed as business costs in your B.V. (including additional generic costs up to 7.750 euros as of 2023)
  • Schooling costs for any children at an international school in the Netherlands which can be expensed as business costs in your B.V.
  • Swapping your foreign driver’s licence for a Dutch driver’s licence without any additional requirements

Eenmanszaak (ZZP)

If you earn less than 60.000 euros annually, then you might want to set up an Eenmanszaak (ZZP) company. You do not, however, receive the same benefits as with a B.V., such as the covering of relocation costs as a business expense. Also, it is not possible to switch your business type to a B.V. + 30% ruling later if you choose this option.

3. BSN number (Citizenship number)

As a U.S. citizen, you do not need to have a temporary residence permit (MVV) to enter the Netherlands. You can stay in the country for 90 days to set up your company and take care of other administrative matters.

Once you arrive in the Netherlands, you should immediately book an appointment with the municipality (gemeente) in which you are living to get your Dutch citizenship number (BSN).

4. IND appointment

You, or the company that is helping you settle in the Netherlands, needs to make an appointment at the Dutch immigration authorities (IND) for you. At the appointment, your picture and fingerprints will be taken and you will be entered into the Dutch system. You need to bring your valid passport to present to the IND.

The IND will then issue you a verblijfssticker (residence sticker) which entitles you to stay and work in the Netherlands, while you wait for the final decision of your DAFT application.

5. Finalising your DAFT application

In order to complete your application, you will need to provide the following documents:

  • A copy of your full passport (including travel stamps)
  • A Chamber of Commerce extract of your new Dutch business.
  • A bank statement showing at least 4.500 euros in your business bank account. If regular banks are too slow, remember you can also choose online alternatives.
  • An opening balance of your Dutch business, drawn up by an accountant or bookkeeper with a BECON number.

After the DAFT application has been submitted, you can expect to receive a verdict in two to three months. In the meantime, you are free to live and work in the Netherlands as though you already have the visa due to your residence sticker.

You can also bring your partner and minor children to the Netherlands already with the sticker. They must obtain a family member residence permit from the IND. If you and your partner are not married / in a civil partnership, then you must prove that you have a durable relationship to the IND.

Do you need help with your visa application or with setting up your business in the Netherlands? Cardon & Company B.V. are immigration law and business specialists who have experience in helping expats. You can get in touch with their team by calling +31 (0) 20 369 4659 or emailing [email protected].

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