Process of relocating to Amsterdam as a freelancer in tech

What is the process of relocating to Amsterdam for a freelance tech job

Spoiler: it’s easier than you’d think

4 May 2022

Over the past few years, the Netherlands has been working hard to become one of the most popular job relocation destinations in the freelance tech scene. Up there with Berlin and London, Amsterdam’s excellent digital infrastructure, innovative and open economy, and strong governmental focus on advancement in technology offers an abundance of exciting projects for freelancers. 

Amazon and Apple, Facebook and Netflix, Microsoft and Google, all have offices located here. Software engineers and web developers are two of the five top key skills in demand in the Netherlands. So, thinking about making the move? Here is how you can make it happen.

Packing up your life is never a simple process. Add being freelance into the mix, and the admin can be overwhelming. Freelancers are known in the Netherlands as ZZP’ers (zelfstandige zonder personeel or “independent with no staff”). To become a ZZP’er there are a few i’s to dot and t’s to cross.

To help you out, here are some frequently asked questions about the process of relocating to Amsterdam as a freelancer in tech. 

Can you freelance as a non-Dutch national?

Short answer, yes. Nationality is not relevant for registering a business, particularly if you are already living in the Netherlands. 

However, if you are not living in the Netherlands things are a little more complicated. You will need to prove what ties your business has with the Netherlands. If you want to set up a sole proprietorship you will at least need a Dutch business address and Dutch fiscal number. In short, you need to prove you actually work here and remain a tax resident here for income tax purposes. 

Do you need a residence permit?

If you are an EU, EEA, or Swiss citizen you will need to get your Dutch residency before you can register as freelance. Lucky for you, the process is simple. You can get your Dutch residency by applying for a social security number (burgerservicenummer – BSN) and registering with your municipality (gemeente). 

If you are not from the EU, EEA, or Switzerland, you do not require a work permit if you are self-employed. You do, however, need a residence permit allowing residence for a self-employed professional or a residence permit including the endorsement ‘Work is freely permitted’ (Arbeid is vrij toegestaan). The application itself costs 1446. But don’t let that put you off, the booming market may make it worth the time and money.

You will need to prove that your work as a freelancer serves an essential interest for the Dutch economy. This is ranked on a scoring system based on 3 parts: personal experience, business plan, and added value for the Netherlands. You also need to prove you have one or more commissions in the Netherlands that you, as a freelancer, are going to carry out.

Oh, and you will also need to apply for a provisional residence permit (MVV) to enter the Netherlands before you can register as a freelancer.

How do I register as a freelancer?

Congrats, you are now (hopefully) a Dutch resident. Next, onto registering as a freelancer. Your first stop will be the KVK (kamer von koophandel) or chamber of commerce. Don’t forget to bring your proof of your address in Amsterdam, your passport and also cash or card (50) to pay the fees. You will get a value-added (VAT) number from the Belastingdienst (the Dutch tax authority). VAT is called BTW or belasting toegevoegde waarde in Dutch.

Wondering how it works with your payroll?

Ready to make the move to freelancing but your visa is tied to your current company? Don’t worry, you can still make it happen. Payroll companies can support your visa while at the same time taking all the admin off your plate and allowing you to focus on your own projects. 

What are the conditions?

As a freelancer, there are a few boxes you need to tick. You are expected to have at least three clients per year and not use one client for more than 70% of your work/income. This makes it clear that you are self-employed and not employed by any one employer or client.

What happens next?

Once you’ve registered your business, you’ll receive a letter from the belastingdienst (tax authority) within five days to start doing your taxes. It’s as simple as that. 


Now you’ve made the move, it’s time to get some work flowing. Our specialist tech recruiters are on hand to help you find your next freelance gig. 

Share your CV with us.