Doing business

Current business situation

The Netherlands is a member of the European Union (EU) and is subject to EU trade regulatory requirements.

Australia and The Netherlands have an open and cooperative relationship underpinned by extensive political, economic and social links.

The Netherlands is a significant investment and trading partner for Australia. It is Australia's second largest export market within the EU after the UK. It is home to a number of financial institutions and other companies that operate in Australia including ING Group, Fortis, Rabobank, AEGON, Shell, Unilever, Delta Lloyd, Philips, and Akzo Nobel. (Source: Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Netherlands country brief, Nov 2014)

Business culture

Dutch business people are experienced in conducting international business. While broadly similar to Australian business practice the Dutch approach has a higher emphasis on order, hierarchy and formality. It is usual that company representatives address each other by their surname.

For meetings, especially at the executive level, approximately six weeks’ notice is required. Punctuality is very important, if you are late for a meeting call ahead to advise and give as much notice as possible. The peak summer holiday months of July and August are difficult to arrange meetings. In addition, many companies shut down over the Christmas and New Year period.

The official language is Dutch. English is widely spoken, but it is courteous to check.

Setting up in Market

The Netherlands Foreign Investment Agency has information for those considering setting up a business in The Netherlands.

Banking and finance

Amsterdam and Rotterdam are the major centres for international business and commerce. Most major international banks have a presence in both cities and most banks will have English-speaking staff.

Links and resources

Government, business and trade

The Netherlands Foreign Investment Agency
EU Customs

News and media

De Telegraaf
NRC Handelsblad
Het Financieele Dagblad

Please note: This list of websites and resources is not definitive. Inclusion in this list does not imply endorsement by Austrade. The information provided is a guide only. The content is for information and carries no warranty; as such, the addressee must exercise their own discretion in its use. Australia’s anti-bribery laws apply overseas and Austrade will not provide business related services to any party who breaches the law and will report credible evidence of any breach. For further information, please see foreign bribery information and awareness pack.