• The Dutch-American Friendship Treaty Visa

    American citizens are eligible for a residence permit for self-employment in the Netherlands. At DAFT.Amsterdam you can find out more about the requirements, how to apply, and how to get help with your application.

    Just imagine life as an entrepreneur in Amsterdam!
    (Or anywhere else in the Netherlands!)

    Read about the history and background of the DAFT visa

Applying for the Dutch-American Friendship Treaty Visa

Dutch immigration law allows US citizens to enter the Netherlands as tourists without a visa and file an application for a long-term visa, called a "residence permit", from the Netherlands. However, it can be worth your while to first lay the groundwork before you move here, starting with a consult (by phone or Skype) with attorney Jeremy Bierbach. He will help you prepare the steps of:
Writing a one-page business plan
Finding out if you qualify for certain tax breaks when moving to the Netherlands
Having your birth certificate legalized (apostilled) by your state of birth
Registering your residential address at the city hall of the town where you live in the Netherlands
Registering your business either as a sole proprietorship (d/b/a) or a small private corporation (BV)
Opening a business bank account
Meeting with a financial advisor who will draft the opening financial report for your business
Filing your immigration application

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: I heard that I just have to put the 4500 euros in a bank account, and then I can take it out or spend it on business expenses, is that true?

A: No. You must maintain your investment at all times. So this is not money you will be spending as part of your procedure or on your business, but you do have to be able to afford to miss it while you keep it in the bank. Your first residence permit will be valid for 2 years, then you have to file a renewal with which you show that you maintained your investment and that your Dutch business is active. After that, you will have to prove that again at renewal time every 5 years. (Of course, we will also advise you on how you can get a permanent and unconditional right to stay in the Netherlands, with no investment requirement, after you have been here for a total of 5 years! You will have to be motivated to learn Dutch so that you can pass an exam.)

Q: Can I apply for jobs with this residence permit?

A: With this residence permit, as a rule, you are not allowed to work in salaried employment. You can only work on a self-employed basis, meaning on the basis of sending invoices to a reasonably diverse number of customers inside or outside the EU or having a retail operation. [Your partner or spouse, however, if they have a residence permit dependent on you, will be allowed to work freely, including in salaried employment, based on a new policy that went into effect on 1/1/2020.] However, if in the course of living here you find a Dutch company that wants to employ you for a high-skilled job (for which there is usually a minimum salary requirement), that company is free to sponsor you for a change of your residence permit to one for the purpose of employment, and you will still be allowed to work in self-employment on the side.

Q: I don’t have much entrepreneurial experience, will that be a problem?

A: That doesn’t necessarily have to be a problem, if you feel confident that you can find customers for your freelance work– you don’t even necessarily have to find customers in the Netherlands. However, it is very important to learn good administrative practices, including keeping good track of all of your invoices and expenses, and either working on a cash-free basis (payments in the Netherlands are generally made by electronic bank transfer) or very carefully accounting for all cash transactions. As a business owner, you will have business tax obligations, such as filing value added tax (VAT) statements with the Dutch tax authority on a quarterly basis. Failure to do so can result in heavy fines. If you do not speak Dutch and are unsure if you can handle these obligations, we will advise you not to spare the expense of having a Dutch bookkeeper take care of these filings for you.

Q: Can I live in other countries in the EU with this residence permit?

A: No. Immigration of non-EU citizens to the EU still only works on a country-by-country basis. This residence permit will only allow you to live in the Netherlands, including having the right (and the obligation) to have full health insurance coverage in the Netherlands. However, your residence permit does function as a visitor visa for the entire Schengen Area, meaning you can travel freely in other Schengen countries. Also, your Dutch business, as an EU-based company, is free to provide services in other EU member states, meaning that as its owner, you can go to other EU member states to service contracts your business has there, as long as those business-to-business contracts are clearly documented as such.

About Jeremy Bierbach

Jeremy Bierbach (1975) is originally from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. After graduating from Georgetown University in Washington, DC in 1996 with a Bachelor’s degree in linguistics, Jeremy worked as an IT specialist for several years. In 2001, Jeremy emigrated to the Netherlands, and in 2003, he changed his career direction and began studying law at the University of Amsterdam, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in Dutch law in 2006 and a master’s degree in constitutional and administrative law in 2007. Jeremy subsequently worked as a legal advisor through Avocado Legal, where he focused on immigration and European migration law.

In January 2014, Jeremy joined Franssen Advocaten as an attorney, and in September 2015 he successfully defended his PhD dissertation ‘Frontiers of Equality in the Development of EU and US Citizenship’ at the University of Amsterdam. He is a member of the Workgroup for Legal Aid to Immigrants (WRV).

Franssen Advocaten logo

Dutch-American Friendship Treaty Blog

News, updates and other interesting information about the Dutch-American Friendship Treaty visa.
by Jeremy Bierbach I do rather frequently find myself in the position of explaining that as a Dutch attorney, my role is not to be a source of legal expertise to anyone who asks me, or who even wants to...
Read More
In 1956, the Netherlands and the United States of America signed the Treaty of Friendship, Commerce and Navigation, which became known as the "Dutch-American Friendship Treaty". Article II of the Treaty provides that: 1. Nationals of either Party shall be...
Read More
[This news item is out of date: it reflects something that was in fact a victory of attorney Jeremy Bierbach at the time, i.e. getting the courts to order the IND to allow partners of entrepreneurs to work in self-employment,...
Read More
Request a callback
To get expert support with your Dutch-American Friendship Treaty visa application, get in touch with Jeremy Bierbach at Franssen Advocaten in Amsterdam today!
Email: bierbach@franssenadvocaten.nl
Phone: +31 (0) 20 66 319 66
Office (by appointment only)
Franssen Advocaten, Sarphatistraat 370, 1018 GW Amsterdam