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The do’s and don’ts of doing business in the Netherlands

Doing business in the Netherlands can be both exciting and challenging for non-Dutch entrepreneurs. The Netherlands is known for its vibrant economy, skilled workforce, and business-friendly environment. However, as with any other country, there are certain do's and don'ts that foreign business owners should be aware of to succeed in the Dutch market. In this blog post, we will discuss the top 5 do's and don'ts of doing business in the Netherlands.


1. Learn Dutch:

While many Dutch people speak English fluently, learning Dutch will help you to understand the local culture and communicate more effectively with your Dutch counterparts. It will also show that you are making an effort to integrate into Dutch society, which is highly appreciated in the Netherlands.

2. Network:

The Dutch are known for their open and direct communication style, which makes networking essential for building business relationships. Attend business events, conferences, and trade fairs to meet potential partners and clients. Joining a business association or chamber of commerce can also help you to connect with other businesses in your industry.

3. Focus on sustainability:

The Dutch are known for their commitment to sustainability and eco-friendliness. Incorporating sustainable practices into your business operations and products can give you a competitive advantage in the Dutch market.

4. Be punctual:

The Dutch value punctuality, so make sure to arrive on time for meetings and appointments. Being late can be seen as disrespectful and unprofessional.

5. Understand the Dutch tax system:

The Dutch tax system is complex, so it's important to work with a local tax advisor to ensure that you comply with all tax regulations. Familiarize yourself with the Value Added Tax (VAT) system and other taxes that apply to your business.



1.Assume that everyone speaks English:

While many Dutch people do speak English, not everyone does. It's important to be respectful and learn some basic Dutch phrases to communicate with those who don't speak English.

2. Be too aggressive:

The Dutch prefer direct communication, but they also value politeness and respect. Being too aggressive or pushy can turn off potential clients or partners.

3. Ignore cultural differences:

The Dutch have their own unique culture and way of doing business. It's important to understand and respect these differences to avoid misunderstandings and cultural faux pas.

4. Rush the decision-making process:

The Dutch prefer to take their time when making decisions, so don't rush the process. Be patient and take the time to build a relationship with your Dutch counterparts.

5. Overlook the importance of socializing: 

The Dutch value socializing and building personal relationships with their business partners. Taking the time to socialize outside of business meetings can help you to build trust and strengthen your business relationships.

In conclusion, doing business in the Netherlands can be a rewarding experience for non-Dutch business owners. To succeed in the Dutch market, it's important to learn Dutch, network, focus on sustainability, be punctual, and understand the Dutch tax system. At the same time, it's essential to avoid assuming that everyone speaks English, being too aggressive, ignoring cultural differences, rushing the decision-making process, and overlooking the importance of socializing. By following these do's and don'ts, non-Dutch business owners can build successful businesses in the Netherlands and establish long-lasting relationships with their Dutch counterparts.


Start your expansion to the Netherlands!

Start now and take the first step in expanding your business to the Netherlands with Firm24. We're here to support you every step of the way, providing you with all the information and answers to your questions. Schedule a consultation with us via our website, and one of our knowledgeable specialists will get in touch with you within 24 hours. Don't wait, let's launch your expansion journey today!

Published on 20 March 2023
Adam Cambridge linkedin
Adam is our English content writer and studies International Business Law at Leiden University

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