The Netherlands: providing services after EU Exit

Guidance for UK businesses about Dutch rules and regulations on service provision if the UK leaves the EU without a deal.


If the UK leaves the EU without a deal, UK firms and service providers will face additional steps or potentially even barriers to trade.

You will need to comply with both local and EU/EEA-wide rules in the following areas:

  • cross-border trade
  • establishing and structuring your business
  • business travel and visa requirements
  • recognition of UK professional qualifications
  • data protection

The Dutch government has guidance on EU Exit

Cross-border trade

If you’re a UK business providing services in the Netherlands, you’ll need to follow Dutch regulations about:

  • acquiring authorisations or licences to provide a service
  • complying with specific local business regulations

The Dutch e-government portal for service providers can help you to:

  • find out what you need to know about providing services in the Netherlands
  • understand local regulations
  • complete the relevant administrative procedures online

Consider appointing an English-speaking lawyer in the Netherlands to help you comply with specific regulations.

There may be regulated sectors in the Netherlands where EEA nationality requirements could prevent you from providing services.

To find out if these apply to you, contact the appropriate competent authority.

Contact the Authority for Consumers and Markets if you have complaints or queries about anti-competitive practices.

The Netherlands Enterprise Agency can provide assistance to entrepreneurs who require information on funding opportunities, and compliance with local regulation.

There are also non-governmental organisations that provide advice to UK businesses operating in the Netherlands, for example the Netherlands British Chamber of Commerce.

These organisations are not associated with the UK government, and their views are not representative of any government policies.

Establishing and structuring your business

If you’re a UK service provider or business, you may face restrictions on your ability to own, manage or direct a company registered in an EU member state.

You should consider if you’re likely to face:

  • additional requirements on the nationality or residency of senior managers or directors
  • limits on the amount of equity that can be held by non-nationals

UK companies and limited liability partnerships that have their central administration or principal place of business in certain EU member states may no longer have their limited liability recognised.

Setting up a business

You can find out how to set up a business in the Netherlands on these websites:

Sector specific information

For audit firms established and approved in EEA states under the Audit Directive, a majority of the ownership and management bodies of an audit firm must be ‘qualified persons’.

In the event of the UK leaving the EU without a deal, ‘qualified persons’ will continue to include EEA qualified auditors and EEA registered audit firms, but will not include UK qualified auditors or registered firms in future.

As a result, the ownership and management of some EEA audit firms may need to be restructured.

If you’re a UK legal professional who has investments in law firms in the Netherlands, you should contact the Netherlands Bar for further information on the implications for your investment.

If you’re a UK citizen, service provider or business operating in the EU and in any doubt about your legal position, seek appropriate professional advice or contact the government of the country where you own, manage or direct a company for more information.

Business travel and entry requirements

See the latest information on travel entry requirements for the Netherlands.


If you’re engaging in a professional activity in the Netherlands you’ll be subject to different requirements, depending on:

  • your occupation and situation
  • whether you are self-employed or an employee
  • your business and the length of your stay

Certain professions may have to meet extra conditions and you may be required to show supporting documentation at the border.

The Netherlands Immigration and Naturalisation Service has more information about:

  • supporting documentation
  • work and residence permits
  • other conditions
  • visas including intra-corporate transfers

Recognition of professional qualifications

The EU’s Mutual Recognition of Professional Qualifications (MRPQ) Directive provides a framework of rules on professional qualification recognition amongst the members of the EEA and Switzerland.

If the UK leaves the EU without a deal, the MRPQ Directive will no longer apply to the UK.

If your qualification falls under the MRPQ Directive and it is already recognised as valid before exit day, it will remain valid after exit day.

For some professions there are additional sectoral frameworks, for example, audit and legal services. If your route to recognition derives from the Audit Directive, or the Lawyers Establishment Directive please see the specific advice below.

If the UK leaves the EU without a deal, UK nationals seeking recognition of their professional qualifications in an EU member state will be assessed under the rules of the host EU member state.

Legislation on the EU-wide recognition of professional qualifications

The European Commission has produced guidance on the recognition of professional qualifications obtained in the UK for professions that fall under the MRPQ Directive after EU Exit

The guidance states that:

  • if your qualification is already recognised as valid, it will remain valid
  • after the UK leaves the EU, UK nationals seeking recognition of their professional qualifications will be governed by the national policies and rules of that EU member state
  • after the UK leaves the EU, UK nationals intending to provide temporary and occasional professional services in any EU member state will be governed by that state’s national policies and rules

Read the European Commission guidance for specific professional occupations.

Information on the EU-wide recognition of professional qualifications

The European Commission’s Regulated Professions Database (REGPROF) can help you identify:

  • professions that are regulated in each EEA state and Switzerland
  • contact details of the member states’ appropriate authority for that regulated profession
  • points of single contact of each EU or EEA country, which give information on registering for professional recognition online

Information on the recognition of professional qualifications in the Netherlands

If you are offering professional services in the Netherlands, look at:

Statutory auditors

If you are a statutory auditor, you will need to establish whether any existing recognition you have in an EU member state will continue to be valid.

You can read:

For UK statutory auditors, the Netherlands Authority for the Financial Markets should be able to provide further information.

The European Commission’s guidance or ‘preparedness notice’ in relation to the MRPQ Directive outlines that lawyers who have transferred into an EU member state profession through the provisions set out in the MRPQ Directive by exit day will continue to have their qualification recognised and will be able to continue to practise should the UK leave the EU without a deal.

This preparedness notice does not deal with the recognition of qualifications under the Lawyers Establishment Directive.

If you’re a UK-qualified lawyer working in the Netherlands, either using a Dutch professional title or a UK professional title, you should contact the local Bar association in the region in which you are working or the Netherlands Bar Council for specific advice.

Data protection

UK businesses will need to continue to comply with data protection laws if the UK leaves the EU without a deal.

To ensure continued compliance, you may need to make changes ahead of the UK leaving the EU if your business:

  • operates across the EU and/or the EEA
  • exchanges personal data with partners in the EU and/or the EEA

The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) provides information on data protection and Brexit including the ‘6 steps to take’ checklist.

International data transfers

The UK government is legislating to provide that, on the UK’s exit from the EU, transfers of personal data from the UK to the EU/EEA (for example the Netherlands) will be permitted.

No additional steps need to be taken at this point if you plan to only transfer personal data from the UK to the Netherlands. You should review your privacy information and your internal documentation to identify any details that will need updating when the UK leaves the EU. Find out more on documentation requirements in the ICO’s six step guidance.

If you receive personal data transfers in the UK from the EU/EEA (for example the Netherlands), you and your EU/EEA-based partners need to think about what GDPR safeguards you can put in place.

Read ICO guidance on international data transfers.

Use the ICO tool to identify and assess your options for complying with EU law on personal data transfers from the EU and EEA to the UK after 31 October 2019.

Your lead data protection authority

If you are a UK business with its headquarters in the UK but with operations in the EU and processing personal data across EU/EEA borders, you might need to deal with a lead supervisory authority in the EU.

Find out more about lead data protection authorities on the ICO website.

You can also read the European Data Protection Board’s guidance on lead supervisory authorities.

The Autoriteit Persoonsgegevens is the Dutch lead data protection authority.

EU representatives

If you’re a UK business that offers goods or services in the EEA, or monitors the behaviour of EEA subjects, but will not have an established presence in an EU or EEA state after 31 October 2019, you may need to employ a European representative.

Find out more about European representatives on the ICO website

Published 4 March 2019