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flag Netherlands Netherlands: Selling and Buying

In this page: Market Access Procedures | Reaching the Consumers | Distributing a Product | Organizing Goods Transport | Identifying a Supplier


Market Access Procedures

International Conventions
Member of World Trade Organisation
Member of OECD
Party to the Kyoto Protocol
Party to the Washington Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora
Party to the Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and Their Disposal
Party to the Montreal Protocol on Substances That Deplete the Ozone Layer
Party to the Wassenaar Arrangement on Export Controls For Conventional Arms and Dual-Use Goods and Technologies
Party of the International Coffee Agreement 2001
Main International Economic Cooperation
Member of the European Union Custom Union and numbers of multilateral and bilateral agreements.
Non Tariff Barriers
The Netherlands, member of the European Union applies its rules. While the EU has a rather liberal foreign trade policy, there is a certain number of restrictions, especially on farm products, following the implementation of the CAP (Common Agricultural Policy): the application of compensations on import and export of farm products, aimed at favoring the development of agriculture within the EU, implies a certain number of control and regulation systems for the goods entering the EU territory.
Moreover, for sanitary reasons, regarding Genetically Modified Organisms, their presence should be systematically specified on packaging. Beef cattle bred on hormones is also forbidden to import.
The BSE crisis ("mad cow disease") urged the European Authorities to strengthen the phytosanitary measures to make sure of the quality of meats entering and circulating in the EU territory. The principle of precaution is now widespread: in case of doubt, the import is prohibited until proof is made of the non-harmfulness of products.
Customs Duties and Taxes on Imports
The Netherlands has (as a member of the European Union) one of the lowest average custom duties with 4.17%.

Complete detail of the custom duties by classification per product

Customs Classification
Harmonized custom system.
Import Procedures
Release for free circulation confers on non-Community goods the status of Community goods. Article 79 (2) Customs Code (CC) clarifies that release for free circulation entails: both the collection of import duties where goods are liable to them according to the Community Customs Tariff and no duty relief is applicable and the application of commercial policy measures (such as the presentation of an import authorization for goods subject to quotas) and any other formalities laid down in respect of the importation of such goods (such as the presentation of a health certificate for certain animals).

Additional information about import procedures can be found on the European Commission website.

As part of the "SAFE" standards advocated by the World Customs Organization (WCO), the European Union has set up a new system of import controls, the "Import Control System" (ICS), which aims to secure the flow of goods at the time of their entry into the customs territory of the EU. This control system, part of the Community Program eCustomer, has been in effect since January 1, 2011. Since then, operators are required to pass an Entry Summary Declaration (ENS) to the customs of the country of entry, prior to the introduction of goods into the customs territory of the European Union.

Importing Samples
Weapons, ammunition, protected species of flora and fauna and drugs.
For Further Information
European Taxation and Customs
Dutch Custom Procedure
Dutch Customs
Netherlands Trade Portal
The Netherlands Foreign Trade Agency

Learn more about Traders, Agents in the Netherlands on, the Directory for International Trade Service Providers.

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Reaching the Consumers

Marketing Opportunities

Consumer Behavior
Dutch consumers tend to value quality to a high degree, they are willing to buy something when they see that the price relates to the quality. They usually do not favor Dutch products over their foreign counterparts. Dutch consumers are sensitive for advertisements and a good advertisement campaign is bound to a big effect on the sales.
Consumer Profile and Purchasing Power
The Dutch consumer has a lot of money to spend but will not spend it easily. By nature they tend to resist change and this also means that they prefer products that they already know over new products. Recently there has been a lot of publicity about the environment which has increased the willingness of Dutch consumers to buy environmental-friendly products.
Consumers Associations
Eigen Huis
United Consumers
Main Advertising Agencies
Media Contact

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Distributing a Product

Evolution of the Sector
Retail trade is valued at around 100 billion EUR.
Market Shares
Comparable to that of other European countries. Is dominated by big groups like Ahold which controls 42% of the food distribution market, followed by Laurus which holds 17% (the Laurus brand is on the verge of disappearing which is benefiting the French brand Casino which today owns 38.7% of Laurus). Despite the development of large supermarkets, Dutch consumers continue to prefer neighborhood stores which allow small supermarkets and specialized stores to retain a considerable share in the Dutch distribution market.
The discount market is also growing; increasing from 10% in 2003 to 13% in 2004.
In the non-food sector, international and Dutch brands co-exist and all of them are well established. In the textile sector there is C&A, Maxeda, and in the furnishing sector Blokker is a national brand.
Organizations in the Retail Sector
Dutch Supermarket Association

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Organizing Goods Transport

Main Useful Means of Transport
Rotterdam is the first port of Europe and one of the most important in the world: in 1998, it handled 315 million tons of goods. This is set to reach an estimated 480 million by 2020. The Netherlands have an internal network of waterways covering 5,046 km, which handle a considerable volume of goods. The other important port is Amsterdam. In 1997 transport by inland waterway represented only 19% of the goods traffic on the domestic market as compared to 64% on the international market which demonstrates the enormous potential to be exploited at the national level. In general, the government's goal is to promote sea transport rather than road transport.

There are a few domestic lines because of the small size of the country. KLM covers a worldwide network with competitive prices.

The country's modern and vast road network. The road capacity sometimes remains insufficient given the traffic density, resulting in traffic jams. The Ministry in charge of Transport and traffic, Telecoms, and the management of Water and Aviation (Ministry of transport, Public Works and Water Management), has planned a certain number of investments for the improvement of road infrastructures, such as the "Bereikbaarheidsoffensief project". This project will make it possible for four big cities to be better served thanks to the introduction of toll roads, on a trial basis.

Since 1985, while goods transport has decreased because of the competition with road transport. In 1993, railways transported 4.79 million tons of goods. The government is now planning to take certain measures for the creation of a fast rail link between the four big cities.

Port of Amsterdam
Port of Rotterdam
Ports of Zeeland
Amsterdam Schipol Airport
Maastricht Airport
Rotterdam Airport
Eindhoven Airport
Groningen Airport
Sea Transport Organizations
Dutch Martime Network Foundation (in Dutch)
Maritime Research Institute Netherlands
Road Transport Organizations
Gemeente Vervoer

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Identifying a Supplier

Type of Production
The industry is responsible for 24% of the Dutch GDP. Industrial activity is predominantly in food processing, chemicals, petroleum refining, and electrical machinery. All of these industries are highly competitive.

Business Directories

Multi-sector Directories
ABC Netherlands - B2B information in Netherlands.
De Telefoongids Gouden Gids - Netherlands's Yellow Pages. - Find active suppliers in your country or a supplier looking for opportunities in your country. Can perform a search by field or by product.
MacRAE'S Blue Book - Business directory with detailed information of companies in Europe. - All companies, products and services in the Netherlands.
Organic Trade Guide - The organic Yellow Pages of Belgium and the Netherlands. - Directory of companies in Netherlands.
Yellow Pages - Find a business in Netherlands.
Zipleaf - Business directory for several countries in the world.
Manufacturers Associations of the Main Industries
50 professional associations listed for the Netherlands.
Trade Agencies and Their Representations Abroad
Dutch Chamber of Commerce
Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs
Enterprises Federation
Small and Medium Enterprise Representative
Information for the Small and Medium sized companies

Learn more about Service Providers in the Netherlands on, the Directory for International Trade Service Providers.

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Learn more about Sales in the Netherlands on, the Directory for International Trade Service Providers.

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Last Updates: October 2014