DAFT Visa

Updated on Thursday 29th April 2021

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U.S. investors can immigrate to the Netherlands under the Dutch-American Friendship Treaty. According to this agreement, U.S. investors can start a business in the Netherlands if they have the required capital and they can easily become the sponsors for their spouses and/or children if they also wish to move to the Netherlands. American citizens interested in obtaining the DAFT visa can receive assistance from our team of Dutch immigration lawyers.

Under the treaty, American citizens can receive a residence permit that will allow them to live and work in a Dutch city. This permit  (also known as DAFT visa) is valid for two years and the holder can apply for permanent residence when all the conditions are met after having lived for five years in the country.

Starting a business in the Netherlands is an easy process, however, many U.S. investors may find it different to establish a business in and move to a European country. Our team of Dutch immigration lawyers is ready to provide entrepreneurs with personalized services for starting a business and benefiting from the provisions of the Dutch-American Friendship Treaty.

What are the general conditions for moving to the Netherlands?

Moving to the Netherlands and starting a business in the country can be an attractive option for many foreign investors, not only American citizens. However, the special conditions under the Dutch-American Friendship Treaty (DAFT) make it relatively simple for individuals from the United States to move to a Dutch city.

The DAFT visa is valid for two years and it is suitable for U.S. entrepreneurs who are IT and software specialists, web developers, management consultants, accountants, designers, translators, multimedia producers, and many other specialists who can work as self-employed individuals.

It is important to note that under the treaty the applicant will most likely work as a freelancer as this is not a work permit for an employee. If you are interested in moving to the Netherlands under a work permit as an employee, one of our Netherlands immigration specialists can help you with additional information about this option.

What are the steps for obtaining the DAFT Visa?
 

U.S. entrepreneurs who wish to apply for a Dutch residence permit under the Friendship Treaty between the two countries need to follow a number of steps and submit their permit application with the Immigration and Naturalization Department, the IND. The first two steps, before submitting the application, include arriving in the Netherlands and arranging the accommodation in a location where the applicant will be able to register as living at the said location. There are plenty of options for renting a property in the Netherlands and one of our Dutch immigration lawyers can help you handle the formalities for renting and even arrange for a note from the property owner that you live there, in case this is requested by the Immigration and Naturalization Department for your application file.

Once the first steps are arranged, it is time to submit the application with the IND. From here onward, the applicant who wants to obtain the DAFT visa will have to:
  1. make an appointment with the IND: you will need to make an appointment and present all of the needed documents as well as pay the application fee; at this stage, the IND will allow you to stay in the country for six months for the purpose of waiting for the approval of the residence permit application under the Friendship Treaty.  The process is not as lengthy and applicants can start working as self-employed individuals at this stage.
  2. register with the Dutch municipality: the registration with the Dutch Municipality, called Gemeente, is needed in order to obtain a social security number; for this purpose, you will have to bring proof of residence (this is why finding a place to live once you arrive is important), as well as copies of your personal identification documents.
  3. register the business: the sole trader or sole proprietorship needs to be registered with the Dutch Business Registry. The business registration process is a simple one and it can also be accomplished online. Once the sole trader is registered, you obtain an official extract that will be submitted with the IND.
  4. open a bank account: a Dutch bank account is required for business purposes and you can open a corporate account at any chosen Dutch bank.
  5. deposit the minimum capital: one of the primary conditions for obtaining Dutch citizenship under the Friendship Treaty if to have a minimum investment capital; the amount is 4,500 euros and needs to be deposited into the corporate bank account.
  6. draw up a business plan: entrepreneurs applying for a residence permit under the Treaty are advised to also prepare a business plan.

How can US nationals work as self-employed persons in the Netherlands?

 
As previously mentioned, the DAFT visa is suitable for those US nationals who will work in the Netherlands as self-employed persons. This means that they will need to comply not only with the nationality requirements that grant the advantages under the said treaty but also with other criteria that are relevant to the proposed activities. Moreover, foreign nationals who wish to work in the Netherlands will need to provide proof that the activities will offer them sufficient income, as well as comply with other requirements for minimum investments.
 
The conditions for self-employed persons under the Dutch American Friendship Treaty are the following:
 
  • He or she meets the conditions applicable to all self-employed applicants;
  • Has American nationality;
  • Does business between the Netherlands and the United States or develops and leads a business in the Netherlands (meaning that the person either represents an American company and is employed by that American company in a key position or has a liberal profession).
 
Some of the costs associated with working as a self-employed individual are the following:
 
  • the application costs are €1,416 (approximately 1,712$);
  • alternatively, the cost of the application is €379 if the holder also has a residence permit start-up;
  • provide proof that your income is at least € 1,179.36 (approximately 1,427$) per month, gross income without holiday allowance.
 
Please note that the required amounts for the minimum gross income applied from 1 January 2021 to 30 June 2021. Our team of Dutch immigration lawyers can provide more details on the requirements about the minimum income per residence permit. Other categories of income apply for other types of residence permits, for example, those residence permits for staying with a family member or partner.
 

Requirements for working in the Netherlands

 
US nationals who wish to work in the Netherlands as self-employed individuals will need to prove that they have the licenses for practicing their profession. This may mean that certain qualifications will need to be recognized and the individual will also need to apply for a certificate of professional competence. In some cases, they will also need to take certain exams in order to receive the recognition of their qualifications and/or register with a professional association. Those who do not have a regulated profession can talk more about the process with our team of immigration lawyers.
 
Some types of professions are subject to automatic recognition. Examples include architects, veterinary surgeons, pharmacists, dental practitioners, obstetricians, physicians or general care nurses. The process is simplified for these automatically recognized professions in the sense that the corresponding authorities can start the procedure in a much faster manner and once you provide the professional qualifications you will be able, in most cases, to start working in a short amount of time. In other cases, the applicant will also be asked to provide additional documents apart from the diplomas or the relevant professional qualifications.
 
In addition to observing the different professional qualification requirements, American citizens who move to the Netherlands under the DAFT Treaty will need to comply with the taxes for their form of business. As one can derive income as a self-employed individual or through a company, understanding the different taxation regimes is important when choosing the business form. The two main tax options are paying income tax and VAT for self-employed professionals or paying corporate income tax and VAT for resident businesses.  Some services are exempt from VAT in the Netherlands or they are subject to a lower rate. In addition to the taxes, one must also pay health care insurance premiums.
 
According to data from Statistics Netherlands’ database, most of the self-employed professionals in the country were men in 2020. In total, there were more than 1,166,000 self-employed professionals in the final quarter of 2020.
 
The DAFT Treaty provides for benefits both for American citizens in the Netherlands as well as Dutch citizens in the United States. Being able to obtain temporary residence and start working under the terms of this agreement can be one of the reasons why some US nationals may choose to relocate to the Netherlands, as opposed to other countries, when they are looking towards moving to Europe.
 
Understanding the terms of the Friendship Treaty that allows US nationals to live and work in the Netherlands is essential before arriving in the country. One of our immigration lawyers in the Netherlands can help you submit the application for a residence permit under the Dutch-American Friendship Treaty. For more information on the DAFT visa, please do not hesitate to contact us.