Freelancing around the rules

The ZZP-10 freelance job agency offers hope to international students eager to earn some extra money during their studies at TU Delft.

It’s no secret to TU Delft’s non-EU international students that finding part-time jobs next to their studies can be quite challenging. Although such students are legally entitled to ten hours per week, the Dutch government gives working permits on a case-by-case basis, and to the employer, not the employee. Further, unlike other major Dutch universities, like Utrecht or Twente, TU Delft doesn’t provide support to international students seeking part-time employment, seemingly preferring to discourage students from the idea instead. Part-time employment however has always been, and will continue to be, an integral part of student life, which leaves TU students to job hunt on their own.

Fortunately, help is on the way in the form of ZZP-10 agency, an employment agency whose owner, Marion van Leeuwen, spoke to Delta about opportunities for non-Dutch speaking, international students to get freelance work through her agency.

What exactly is the ZZP-10 agency?

“ZZP is an abbreviation for zelfstandige zonder personeel, which translates as ‘independent employee without personnel’, or just ‘freelancer’. The ‘10’ in the name represents the number of languages we work with: Dutch, English, French, German, Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, Arabic, Turkish, and Polish. We are also hoping to add Chinese and perhaps a few others to that in future. Our agency is for foreigners or Dutch citizens with differing ethnic backgrounds who want to work as freelancers. Our website also offers people important information about paperwork, administration, accountancy and taxes associated with freelancing in the Netherlands.”

When and how did you start this business?

“The agency officially launched two years ago, but we’ve only recently had the new website online. To our knowledge, we’re the first and so far only ZZP agency for internationals in the Netherlands. In recent decades, the Netherlands saw an influx of foreigners, and over time not all of them integrated well in Dutch society. It was my dream to start a job agency where foreigners would be able to start working in their own language, and integrate in Dutch society with time.”

What challenges do people with non-Dutch backgrounds face when looking for work in the Netherlands?

“These people have diverse backgrounds that they bring with them, that make them different. In order to work here, you need to know the rules, to have the right documents. All laws and regulations, however, are only available in Dutch, so there’s nobody to help foreigners with starting up work. That’s why I created the agency – to help these people.”

What kind of work do freelancers at your agency typically do?

“Everything from physical labour like construction and gardening, to intellectual work like translation, private tutoring, journalism, creative work… there are possibilities for every skill in freelancing.”

What resources are available on the site for international or ethnically diverse freelancers?

“Firstly, we have information about the VAR, tax regulations, subsidies, and all the paperwork you need to become a freelancer in the Netherlands, in ten different languages. Secondly, there’s a section where you can upload your profile, describing your specialties, past work experience – basically a CV that you can send around and post on other sites to promote yourself. And there will also be a section on the website for employers – people looking to hire freelancers.”

If a non-EU student wants to be a freelancer, what does he/she need to begin with?

“He or she needs to fill in a VAR form, have proper health and liability insurance, get a document from the Dutch chamber of commerce (KVK form), and of course create a profile stating what they can do, and thus begin to advertise themselves. We as an agency can help them initially, but freelancing means taking initiative—that’s the zelfstandige or independent part of it.”

What are the costs involved?

“Liability insurance costs 30-50 euros per month, health insurance is something you already have to have, so no added costs. A KVK-form costs around 40 euros. Other than that, there are tools of your trade, but that cost can be compensated through tax reductions later. We do not charge freelancers for the information we give or for uploading their profile.”

Do you think the investment is worth it for non-EU students to take on freelancing?

“With freelancing, what you put in is what you get back from it. If you cannot work more than ten hours a week, you won’t be able to get some special subsidies from the government, but you also won’t have to pay many taxes, so it can certainly still be profitable. You can freelance with several different professions and work in your own time, so I definitely think it’s worth trying out.” 

overwegende, dat het afgelopen jaar weer door een tal van partijen,
politici en prominenten een hoop is geleuterd over de kenniseconomie,

overwegende, dat ondanks de motie Hamer, de commissie Veerman en
de Kennisinnovatieagenda er desalniettemin weer een jaar lang nul en
generlei investeringen zijn gedaan in de kwaliteit van het onderwijs,

overwegende dat óók de vandaag bekendgemaakte begroting de
ambitie om naar de top 5 van mondiale kenniseconomieën te klimmen
meer schaadt dan baat,

verzoekt politici van alle partijen om een keer daadwerkelijk te
investeren in onderwijs, óf ons de loze praat te besparen én te
accepteren dat we afzakken naar de mondiale grauwe middelmaat,

en gaat gedesillusioneerd maar weer over tot de orde van de dag.


Waarvan akte.

Editor Redactie

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