Edition 2020

Photo description: Office windows.

How many enterprises in the Netherlands?

The Netherlands is home to a total of 1.9 million enterprises. The sectors with the largest numbers of companies are specialised business services (374 thousand), trade (243 thousand) and construction (200 thousand).

How many companies in the Netherlands?Mining and quarryingAgriculture, forestry and fishingManufacturingEnergy supply75,5205,30070,18512,935495901,6601351,860425Financial services99,0352,695Specialised business services374,07513,855Real estate activities28,6201,770Renting and other business activities83,7908,655Education101,2802,780
ConstructionTradeAccommodation and food servicesInformation and communicationHealthcare and welfareCulture, sports and recreationOther services 174,75511,960116,1803,125820580110,8553,935243,23029,94549,3355,880100,3606,34064,18512,560200,02010,195Transportation and storageLegend

The vast majority of enterprises employ fewer than 5 people (93 percent). In the specialised business services and construction sectors, the percentage of small enterprises is even slightly higher.

The share of enterprises with 5 employed persons or more is relatively large in manufacturing (18 percent) and the accommodation and food services sector (20 percent). There are 8 thousand enterprises in the Netherlands with 100 or more employees. These companies are most often active in manufacturing (1.3 thousand) and trade (1.1 thousand).

Total enterprise population, Q3 2020 (x 1,000)
Bedrijfstak Number of enterprises
Specialised business services 374.1
Trade 243.2
Construction 200.0
Healthcare and welfare 174.8
Culture, sports and recreation 116.2
Other services 110.9
Education 101.3
Information and communication 100.4
Financial services 99.0
Renting and other business activities 83.8
Agriculture, forestry and fishing 75.5
Manufacturing 70.2
Accommodation and food services 64.2
Transportation and storage 49.3
Real estate activities 28.6
Other 5.0

Enterprise population growing each year

The number of enterprises has been increasing every year. In Q3 2007, there were 1.0 million enterprises in the Netherlands. The majority are classified under the legal form natural persons.noot1 Under this form, one or more persons are severally liable for the company’s liabilities and expenses. An enterprise can also be set up as a legal personnoot2, whereby the enterprise itself is regarded as a person in legal terms.

The increase in the number of enterprises was highest among sole proprietorships. In Q3 2020, two-thirds of all enterprises were sole proprietorships, versus slightly more than 50 percent in the same quarter in 2007. In this period, the number of sole proprietorships more than doubled from 569 thousand to nearly 1.3 million. The number of private limited liability companies, the most common form among legal persons, rose from 126 thousand to almost 380 thousand.

Enterprise population, third quarters (x 1,000)
Jaar Sole proprietorships Other natural persons Private limited companies (BV) Other legal persons
2007 569.2 176.5 253.2 41.5
2008 624.2 174.6 274.5 39.7
2009 683.2 176.4 289.6 40.4
2010 725.0 189.4 293.9 42.2
2011 779.4 187.4 298.0 42.3
2012 813.9 192.3 308.6 43.9
2013 842.3 193.8 312.7 43.7
2014 883.3 192.1 318.4 43.5
2015 936.7 196.6 329.0 44.0
2016 993.4 199.6 338.3 44.2
2017 1056.2 202.0 345.0 45.0
2018 1097.1 203.0 357.9 45.4
2019 1170.3 205.0 365.3 51.6
2020 1257.3 208.9 379.5 50.7

The questions


Natural persons

A human being (individual) who is recognised as a legal subject and therefore as having legal rights and obligations.

This legal form comprises:

  • Sole proprietorships
  • Limited liability partnerships
  • General partnerships
  • Limited partnerships
  • Shipping companies
  • Cooperation agreements

Legal persons

A legal arrangement through which an organisation is recognised as a legal subject with legal rights and obligations similar to a natural person.

A legal person may act as a natural person in legal proceedings, i.e. have possessions and debts, enter into contracts, initiate legal proceedings or be brought before a court. This legal form comprises:

  • Private limited liability companies
  • Public companies
  • Associations
  • Foundations
  • Cooperative societies
  • Mutual insurance companies
  • Government bodies (central government, provincial government, municipality)
  • Legal forms of foreign enterprises
  • European Economic Interest Grouping (EEIG)
  • Special-purpose assets
  • Collective investment funds (FGR)
  • Churches
  • Foreign legal forms


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Explanation of symbols

Explanation of symbols
Symbol Explanation
Empty cell figure not applicable
. figure is unknown, insufficiently reliable or confidential
* provisional figure
** revised provisional figure
(between two numbers) inclusive
0 (0.0) less than half of unit concerned
2016–2017 2016 to 2017 inclusive
2016/2017 average for the years 2016 up to and including 2017
2016/’17 crop year, financial year, school year etc., beginning in 2016 and ending in 2017
2004/’05–2016/’17 crop year etc. 2004/’05 up to and including 2016/’17

Due to rounding, some totals may not correspond to the sum of the separate figures.

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Concept & image editing

Irene van Kuik


Anne Blaak

Janneke Hendriks

Richard Jollie

Hendrik Zuidhoek


Ronald van der Bie

Kees Groenenboom

Annelie Hakkenes-Tuinman

Michel van Kooten

Sidney Vergouw

Paul de Winden

Elma Wobma

Karolien van Wijk

Gert Jan Wijma


Gabriëlle de Vet

Frans Dinnissen

Final editing

Annelie Hakkenes-Tuinman

We thank all other colleagues who have contributed to this edition of The Netherlands in Numbers.