Dutch American Friendship Treaty (DAFT)

If you are a U.S. citizen, you can apply for the Dutch residence permit for self-employment or representing American companies with business interests in the Netherlands and its territories.

On March 27, 1956 the Netherlands has signed the Dutch American Friendship Treaty or DAFT (Nederlands-Amerikaans Vriendschap Verdrag) with the U.S. at the Hague, in order to stimulate trade and business on a reciprocal basis.

As of 1 June 2013, DAFT permit is issued on a two-year renewable basis and the investment must be maintained throughout the entire period. Upon finalizing the two years period, DAFT is renewed for other five years. The IND (Immigration and Nationalization Service) will request you that the minimum required capital amount will be maintained during the two-year validity of the permit.

Any type of business is permitted under the treaty, except for those that need special certification like doctors, teachers, or lawyers. Artists, managers, designers, movie producers, and many others are considered one-person freelance businesses. You can also open a branch of a U.S. company or buy an existing Dutch business.

People from other non-E.U. countries usually need to meet an extensive set of requirements. For example, a points system test checks whether or not the business is innovative or will be adding value to the Dutch economy. The point-system test is often a barrier for non-E.U. nationals to obtain a permit as self-employed. The treaty gives American citizens providing some specific requirements, preferential treatment to operate a business in the Netherlands.

The requirements for American citizens are the following:

  • The passport must be valid for at least one year from the application date;
  • You and your family must have a Dutch Health Insurance;
  • You must prove a municipal registration;
  • You must register your business at the Chamber of Commerce;
  • You must provide the IND with a business sheet, with your information, information about your the company, an official opening balance, and a financial outlook;
  • You must invest substantial personal capital into the business. Amounts of capital are different from each situation. A sole proprietorship ("Eenmanszaak") requires a minimum amount of € 4.500. A Dutch Limited Liability Company or public corporation ("Naamloze Vennootschap") requires at least 25% of the minimum capital stock required by law (€ 45.000), or € 11.250. Borrowed funds are not valid.

Under the DAFT, your business must be profitable and must benefit the Dutch economy. Moreover, you are not required to learn the Dutch language or pass a civic integration exam, although the language test ("Inburgering") is needed to apply for permanent residence or citizenship, after five years of continuous stay in the Netherlands.

The DAFT is a great option for young people, people in mid-career, or retired people. You can also sponsor your spouse and minor children to reside in the Netherlands.

An immigration attorney may guide and help you through the DAFT immigration laws and procedures, in order to reach your business goals. We work with local lawyers in the Netherlands to assist with the DAFT application process. The DAFT does also provide a track to dual citizenship.

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