Collecting in The Netherlands
The payment behaviour of domestic companies is very good with payment normally taking place within 47 days; however the rules that implement the latest EU Directive on late payments are less demanding than the EU standards.
In practice, although the courts are reliable, negotiating payment instalments is often the most efficient way to avoid unnecessary costs and a specialised collection agency may often be enough to obtain payment. When the debtor has become insolvent, debt renegotiation mechanisms are available but remain inefficient and unused, while most bankruptcies are terminated without any payments of dividends to unsecured creditors.
Availability of financial information
Financial information on domestic companies is generally available.
The Netherlands has a Civil Law system in which the rules are codified rather than based on the case law. The judiciary is built upon various courts of general jurisdiction which deal with claims taking the amounts at stake into account, rather than on a subject matter basis. County Courts (Kantongerecht) would normally deal with small claims of up to EUR 25,000, while claims in excess of this amount would fall under the jurisdiction of District Courts (Rechtbank).
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Main corporate structures
Liability for business debts is determined by legal structures, which may be described as follows:
- Sole Proprietorship is available for small businesses managed by an individual and for which no commercial structure is necessary. In this case, the owner is held liable for all business debts.
- Private Limited Liability Companies (Besloten Vennootschap met beperkte aansprakelijkheid, BV) represent the great majority of businesses in the Netherlands since they require no minimal capital funds (EUR 18,000 prior to October 2012) while the partners’ liability is limited to their contribution. Public Limited Liability Companies (Naamloze Vennootschap, NV) are used for larger structures willing to divide their capital (at least EUR 45,000) into tradeable shares. In these entities, the shareholders’ liability is limited to the value of their shares.
- Foreign companies may alternatively settle in The Netherlands through branch offices which provide no liability limitations to the foreign parent company.
Read our full report to better understand the nature of collecting payments in The Netherlands. Our export finance experts are happy to help make exporting easier, discuss your ideas and offer finance solutions tailored to your company needs.