Foreign companies that are not resident in the Netherlands can promote their commercial interests and settled here a constant presence by setting up a liaison office. The Dutch law does not categorize the liaison offices in the Netherlands as entities with legal personality, as this forms do not act independently and have no independent existence, but are entirely dependent on and subordinated to foreign companies that have set them up in the Netherlands.
In most cases, foreign companies have an interest to settle a liaison office in the Netherlands for local market research, both to promote and introduce products in this market and also in order to conclude contracts with commercial partners in the Netherlands.
Activities undertaken by a Dutch liaison office
Given the overall status of dependency and subordination to foreign companies, a liaison office in the Netherlands cannot develop its own activity (cannot produce goods and cannot provide services), but it can only support activities for the parent company, such as commercial activities (marketing, promotion and advertising). A liaison office in the Netherlands can also provide information for scientific research or for similar activities which have only an auxiliary character for the foreign company.
Often, a liaison office in the Netherlands serves as an intermediary between the foreign company and business partners in the Netherlands, which means that it stands as a representative of the parent company (in the name and on behalf of the company).
Because the representative office cannot generate income, foreign investors in the Netherlands who want to establish themselves on the market can choose to open a branch instead. This business form is highly dependable on the parent company but, unlike the liaison office, it can engage in an actual business activity.
We invite you to watch a video about the Dutch liaison office and starting a business in the Netherlands:
Registration of a liaison office in the Netherlands
A liaison office in the Netherlands doesn't need to be registered with the Dutch Chamber of Commerce. A liaison office in the Netherlands is considered to simply provide information to its parent company or administrative services and does not involve in any trade activities. This is why this type of establishment is not subject to taxation in the Netherlands
However, a liaison office in the Netherlands can become an employer and, in this case, it needs to register itself with the relevant tax authorities in the Netherlands for the purpose of personal income taxation. A work permit and a residence permit are needed for the foreign individual who acts as the liaison officer in the Netherlands on behalf of the foreign company.
The VAT incurred by a liaison office in the Netherlands is under certain conditions eligible for a refund. In this sense, a liaison office in the Netherlands can obtain a refund when the foreign company files a periodical request with the Dutch tax authorities.
A liaison office is the first step for foreign entrepreneurs who decide to enter the Dutch market. It can be transformed into a branch afterward if the investor decides to expand the scope of his activities in the country.
I have had a very good collaboration with the specialists in company registration from CompanyFormationNetherlands.com. They answered to my requests rapidly and they managed to open a company in just a few days after I had sent all the required documents for my clients.