Edition 2021

Foto omschrijving: Builder installing insulation material under a new-build roof

How many companies in the Netherlands?

The Netherlands is home to a total of 2.0 million companies (Q3 2021). The largest numbers of companies are active in specialised business services (387 thousand), trade (264 thousand) and construction (215 thousand).

How many companies in the Netherlands?5,49576,99512,97073,840905451402,0754301,9051,77530,300Renting and other business activities8,43089,345Education2,785109,435Mining and quarryingManufacturingEnergy supplyFinancial services2,680103,57513,855386,640
ConstructionTradeAccommodation and food servicesInformation and communicationHealthcare and welfareCulture, sports and recreationOther services30,430264,2605,98553,5556,600104,85510,77565,96510,535214,535LegendTransportation and storage12,395186,9052,780119,5355908253,700115,880

The vast majority of companies employ fewer than five people (93 percent). In the specialised business services and construction sectors, the percentage of small companies is even slightly higher. The share of companies with five or more employed persons is larger in manufacturing (18 percent) and accommodation and food services (16 percent). There are nearly 8 thousand companies in the Netherlands with 100 or more employees. These companies are most often active in manufacturing (1.3 thousand) and trade (1.2 thousand).

Total enterprise population, Q3 2021 (x 1,000)
Bedrijfstak Number of enterprises
Specialised business services 386.6
Trade 264.3
Construction 214.5
Healthcare and welfare 186.9
Culture, sports and recreation 119.5
Other services 115.9
Education 109.4
Information and communication 104.9
Financial services 103.6
Renting and other business activities 89.3
Agriculture, forestry and fishing 77.0
Manufacturing 73.8
Accommodation and food services 66.0
Transportation and storage 53.6
Real estate activities 30.3
Other 5.4

Enterprise population growing each year

The number of companies has been increasing every year. In Q3 2007, there were 1.0 million companies 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 obligations and expenses. A company can also be set up as a legal personnoot2, which means the company itself is regarded as a person in legal terms.

The increase in the number of companies was highest among sole proprietorships. In Q3 2021, two-thirds of all companies 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 over 1.3 million. The number of private limited liability companies, the most common form among legal persons, rose from 151 thousand to almost 405 thousand.

Enterprise population, Q3 (x 1,000)
Jaar Sole proprietorships Other natural persons Private limited companies (BVs) 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 44.1
2016 993.4 199.6 338.3 44.3
2017 1035.9 200.7 347.9 45.5
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
2021 1329.0 214.3 404.5 53.4

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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Concept & image editor

Irene van Kuik


Janneke Hendriks

Richard Jollie

Hendrik Zuidhoek


Ronald van der Bie

Annelie Hakkenes-Tuinman

Michel van Kooten

Sidney Vergouw

Paul de Winden

Karolien van Wijk

Gert Jan Wijma


Frans Dinnissen

Gaby de Vet

Taalcentrum VU

Final editor

Elma Wobma

We thank all CBS colleagues who have contributed to this edition of The Netherlands in numbers.