Monday, June 10, 2013

Introduction to the Dutch-American Friendship Treaty (DAFT)

Dutch Immigration Part I

Image courtesy Wikipedia

 When I embarked on the pursuit of a Dutch residence permit, I had no idea what to expect. I read a few accounts of other people's experiences to get the general gist of what the process entails, but I think each application is a personal experience depending on the timing, the current laws, where you are moving, what kind of work you will be doing, and the type of permit required. Nevertheless, my experience may be helpful, particularly to Americans wishing to immigrate under the Dutch-American Friendship Treaty.

The Dutch-American Friendship Treaty was enacted in the 1950s as a way to allow Americans to start businesses in the Netherlands. It has several basic requirements to qualify. First of all, applicants must be American citizens.
Secondly, they must start a business. Thirdly, they must possess 4500 capitol. Many of the requirements for other types of work permits are waived (ie you do not have to make a case showing how your business will benefit the Dutch economy or provide records of income) While these are the core requirements, there are several other steps required to get set-up in Dutch society which I will describe in this series of articles. Once approved, the permit is good for a year from the date of application ( turned out slightly differently with my permit, which I will explain later), with the possibility to renew annually.

Before leaving home, I acquired an apostilled copy of my birth certificate. How to do this varies by state and county and can take several weeks. In my case, I picked up a copy of the certificate from the Department of Health office for a small fee, and then mailed it, along with another small fee, to the Secretary of State for apostille.

The other important detail is to figure out how you will acquire money in Europe without paying too much in fees. I initially transferred 4500 worth of USD (plus extra for other payments) to someone I trusted so that they could use their bank to send the money to my account in the Netherlands. I didn't end up doing this, but it is important to understand your financial plan before leaving and also check the exchange rate. In addition, my bank requires me to alert them that I will be using my debit card abroad so I gave them a call so I would be able to access my US accounts. It should also be noted that Dutch merchants and some of the ATMs read a chip rather than the magnetic strip so American debit and credit cards will not work in many locations.

I initially entered the country on a 90 day tourist visa, which does not require any paperwork beyond a passport for Americans. My application had to be submitted before the end of the 90 days. Once it was submitted I could remain in the country until a decision was made.

I started the application process in October 2012, just after some significant changes in the immigration law threw everything into upheaval at the IND. The IND (Immigratie en Naturalisatiedienst) is the immigration bureau which applicants will be dealing with.

Next: Municipality Registration

  • US Passport
  • Birth Certificate and Apostille

  • IND: Government website. Check here for application costs, forms, phone numbers, desk locations


  1. Hi Shannon!
    Once you submitted your DAFT application to the IND were you told you were able to start working for your company? I was told by the agent that took my application that I can, but my lawyer says I can't. (I know I should trust my lawyer) but I'm still looking for more opinions. Well I would prefer facts over opinons but those are hard to find! Any comments? Thank you!

    1. There is so much conflicting information that it gets confusing! As I understood it, I could not do any work for my company that involved getting paid until I had the permit that ok'ed my company earning money. However, I did work on setting things up--ie buying supplies, working on my accounting, making contacts, etc.

  2. Hi Shannon, I am an American interested in DAFT. How long did the entire process take you? I am currently in NL on a tourist visa and have only a month left on my visa. Do you think it possible to begin the application process now? Best Wishes, K

    1. It took me about 2 months to get everything together. You could probably do it quicker if there are no unknowns or run arounds, but considering the process is constantly changing I can't make a guarantee. It also depends on how much you have already researched living here (ie place to live, banks, how to acquire euros, business design to submit to the KVK...) You'll also want to make an appointment with the IND well in advance (it took me 2 weeks to get in to see them)--once you've submitted an application with the IND you're good to stay until they make a decision. However, I believe it may now be possible to submit the application without being in the Netherlands, so you might also want to check on that just in case you can't get to the IND in time. Best of luck!

  3. Shannon,
    Thanks for the quick response! I have decided to go ahead and hire an attorney due to the harsh time restraints in my case. That being said, the process seems reasonably simple and quick. Thank you for posting about your experience, it is comforting to hear it is all possible from a "real"person!
    Best, K

  4. Hey! I found your blog through a simple google search and I was wondering if you'd like to do a quick Q +A post for my blog about the DAFT treaty? I'm currently going through the process myself next month and will chronicle it all.

    If you're interested let me know! , in the meantime, check out my blog