The Netherlands – a country of water. Rotterdam – a port city. The Dutch maritime sector is active on all continents and includes inland shipping, ports, maritime services (including maritime education and knowledge institutes), maritime suppliers, offshore, shipbuilding, fishing industry, the water sports industry and ocean shipping. This sector, including the industrial port complex, employs almost 440,000 people (5 percent of the employment opportunities in the Netherlands) and generates 7.3% of the gross domestic product– according to government figures.

What is your course when it comes to realising your organisation’s ambitions?

Innovation and export

The maritime production industry is part of the ‘top sector’ Water, from which investments are made in knowledge and innovation. Because besides the export of goods and services, the .knowledge and craftsmanship available in the Netherlands are also important export products. Minister Schultz: “The Netherlands depends on innovation. It is our high-quality knowledge which leads the maritime sector to be of world class. And keeps it there.” The efforts related to research and development, with 4.2% of added value, are substantially higher than the average 2.0% of the gross domestic product (2013 CBS figures).

Innovative tax legislation

The Netherlands has attractive tax regulations and subsidies for the maritime sector. There’s a tax deduction on wage tax for seafarers, a tonnage tax scheme, various amortisation facilities for sea vessels, for example, but also the Energy Investment Deduction (EIA), Environmental Investment Deduction (MIA) for sustainable investments and the innovations box for innovative solutions for technical issues.

HR services

The maritime sector, the industrial port complex and the transport facilities related to the port together offer employment opportunities for approximately 5 percent of the Dutch working population. Most of the parts of this sector face the issues an ageing workforce bring, and new entrants are needed (Dutch Maritime Strategy 2015 – 2025). Especially in a period of economic growth, many companies expect to have issues in recruiting sufficient qualified personnel. Employers (and employees) often struggle with the complex tax and social insurance implications of employees in an international setting (in transport and offshore work for example). Grant Thornton’s specialists know their way around and have a grip on the issues at hand.


Especially in sectors with a strong representation of family businesses, such as the water sports/yacht building and inland shipping industry, the number of actively involved owners and family members over the age of 55 is striking. Succession, continuity of business operations and employment opportunities are therefore a serious point of attention (The Netherlands, Maritime Country – Monitor 2015).

Grant Thornton’s specialists offer solutions by applying the succession regulations, with due attention given to the continuity of the business.

Offshore industry

Besides the traditional maritime sector, the offshore industry faces specific issues. Special projects require special tax expertise. Issues can include:

  • When is a company still a traditional shipping company and when do we talk of offshore activities?
  • In the case of temporary activities in another country, when is there a permanent establishment?
  • Do the (installation) activities for solar and wind energy at sea relate to the exploitation or the exploration of the seabed?

Every country has a different answer to these questions. The answers not only have consequences for the tonnage scheme, but also raise issues as to profit allocation (permanent establishment issues) and can have consequences for the ship’s crew.

Grant Thornton can help with:

  • making use of fiscal opportunities (for example the tonnage scheme and subsidies);
  • the flexible financing of new investments/ships;
  • complex (cross-border) wage tax issues for seafarers, but also for people who traditionally do not belong to the fixed crew, such as offshore engineers, etc.;
  • permanent establishment issues when it comes to offshore activities;
  • making smart combinations of the different facilities (e.g. EIA, MIA, tonnage scheme, subsidies, etc.) in order to maximise your benefits.

International network

Grant Thornton is a member of the international network of Grant Thornton International Ltd. Within this international network, we have various maritime sector specialists, with a broad spectrum of dynamic organisations—from up-and-coming companies to fast-growing and established world leaders.