Applying for a bank account at a Dutch bank to become easier for foreign companies

20 mei 2019
It will be easier for companies outside the Netherlands to apply for a bank account with a Dutch bank. This is due to an initiative of ING, ABN Amro and Rabobank, together with the Dutch Banking Association (NVB) and a number of public parties.

Nederlands

From 20 May 2019 onwards, entrepreneurs outside the Netherlands can provide one of these three banks with information on their companies using the ‘Quick Scan Dutch Business Bank Account’. This will enable the bank to assess whether a bank account is feasible for the entrepreneur more quickly, and the entrepreneur will also know where they stand more quickly (within five business days). If the assessment is positive, the bank will then commence its usual customer due diligence procedure.

With this facility, the banks, the NVB and the government and various other parties involved hope to improve the attractiveness of the Netherlands as a business location without raising unrealistic expectations or infringing banking regulations. “The banks want to contribute to the ambition of ‘The Netherlands Incorporated’ to attract foreign businesses,” says Chris Buijink, chair of the Dutch Banking Association. “Being able to arrange your banking affairs quickly and efficiently is an important precondition for an attractive business location.” In the coming period, the new methodology will be trialled in practice. Other banks will be able to join at a later stage if they so wish.

Cooperation for The Netherlands Incorporated

Cooperation makes the Netherlands more attractive for any kind of business. Entrepreneurs can only do business in the Netherlands with an IBAN account opened in a country belonging to the Single European Payment Area (SEPA). Larger internationally operating companies usually already have such a bank account. But this is not the case for companies such as a start-up from India or an Australian company looking to establish itself in the Netherlands. When companies come to the Netherlands, they mostly start small and then expand later on through further investment. In recent years, it has emerged that Dutch banks have been cautious with respect to opening bank accounts for these commercial customers as a result of American and European integrity regulations. The parties involved are now addressing this issue together in order to make the Netherlands even more attractive as a business location.

Jeroen Nijland, supervisory director of the Netherlands Foreign Investment Agency (NFIA), the agency of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Climate engaged in attracting foreign businesses to the Netherlands: “If we want to continue to benefit from being an international economy, it is important that foreign businesses can make a good start and get on with doing business from the Netherlands without delay. So this cooperation is important for all of us. For our future economic growth and employment, and also for the attractiveness of the Netherlands as a business location.”

Hans de Boer, chair of VNO-NCW: “We are continually working together to create a business climate that is attractive to world-class small and large businesses. This initiative from the banks makes life easier for foreign companies of all types and sizes from outside the EU and helps us establish the Netherlands as a great place to do business. This benefits all of us.”

Quick Scan provides information

From 20 May 2019 onwards, foreign entrepreneurs have one accessible and recognisable place to complete the ‘Quick Scan Dutch Business Bank Account’ – the government website business.gov.nl. The entrepreneur completes a questionnaire and sends this to one of the three banks, along with other requested documentation. The bank then informs the entrepreneur within five business days whether it can start the process for opening a business bank account or whether it is already clear that this is not feasible. If the assessment is positive, the bank will start its normal customer due diligence procedure, which will involve a request for additional documentation. This new uniform process applies to both larger established companies and innovative foreign start-ups.

Special Envoy StartupDelta, Constantijn van Oranje: “Foreign start-ups bring extra dynamics, knowledge, talent and employment in the start-up ecosystem, and help to strengthen the international reputation of the Netherlands.”

No concessions to the bank’s statutory obligations

Dutch banks are obliged to follow certain customer due diligence procedures by law. They also have their own customer acceptance policies. This will not change, however until now there has been no clear procedure whereby this group of foreign entrepreneurs could easily contact a Dutch bank and apply to open a bank account. To avoid unnecessary rejections, the banks, together with the NVB and the government, have improved the application procedure for this group. The banks will not make any concessions with regard to their statutory obligation to screen new customers for risks. 

The ‘Quick Scan Dutch Business Bank Account’ and the related process apply from 20 May 2019 onwards. All the information will then be available at business.gov.nl. The process is the result of a cooperation between the NVB and its members, the Ministries of EZK and Finance, the NFIA, InvestNL, StartupDelta and VNO-NCW.