Utrecht – The Dome City
Utrecht is the capital city and a municipality in the Dutch province of Utrecht, located at the heart of the Netherlands. The city forms the eastern part of the Randstad and is the fourth largest city.
Covering a total area of 99.21 square kilometers, Utrecht was estimated in 2021 to have a population of 360,000 people and a density of 3,068/km2. According to government figures compiled by the municipality, the majority (69%) are Dutch nationals, while the remainder comprises other Western Europeans, Surinamese, Moroccans, and Turks.
With a long and rich history that dates back to the Roman Era, the ancient city of Utrecht has initially been the economic and cultural heartland of the Northern Netherlands. Despite being a second city to Amsterdam, the city boasts a thriving business center and lively cultural scene. The Regional Competitiveness Index (RCI) ranks Utrecht in a joint second place, together with London
Utrecht is run by the City Council and the Municipal Executive Committee, which comprises the Mayor and Alderman. The City Council of Utrecht consists of 47 members elected by the residents every four years. The current mayor is Sharon Dijksma, who was elected on December, 16th 2020.
The economy of Utrecht is driven by a strong services sector whose key sectors include business and financial services, retail and business, medical care, education, and banking.
Utrecht boasts a burgeoning life sciences industry that hosts over 50 companies, 7,000 people, and a selection of world-class research facilities. Primary activities include diagnostics, therapeutics, and services focusing on human biology, oncology, and stem cells. Industry leaders based in the city include GlaxoSmithKline, Genmab, Danone, and Bioceros.
As the ICT capital of the Netherlands, Utrecht has attracted over 3,000 companies that specialize in software development, distribution, and implementation of software applications. Redhat, Capgemini, and Fujitsu are among the many companies that run operations out of the city.
The gaming sector also flourishes in Utrecht, where thousands of developers focus on entertainment, casual, online, and serious games. Nintendo, Game Entertainment Europe, and Ubisoft all have their headquarters in Utrecht, while the city is also home to many research facilities, including Game Research for Training and Entertainment (GATE), Centre for Advanced Gaming and Simulation (AGS), and the Expertise Centre on Games and Game Design.
IAmExpat.nl found Utrecht to be the most sustainable region in the Netherlands, and non-surprisingly the city is home to many innovative engineering and consultancy companies that specialize in this field.
The Netherlands ranks as the third-highest country in terms of the quality of its basic infrastructure. As one of the country’s most important cities, Utrecht is no exception, offering exceptional infrastructure resulting from substantial investment over the past decades.
The city is linked to other major conurbations and neighboring countries by a network of well-maintained motorways, railways, and waterways. The city operates a medium-sized industrial port situated on the Amsterdam-Rhine canal that transports over 7 million tonnes of goods (primarily sand, gravel, fertilizer, and fodder) each year.
The city center operates a modern and efficient public transport system that consists of trams, buses, and trains. Utrecht’s central railway station (Centraal) is one of the largest stations in the Netherlands and comprises fourteen passenger tracks across seven platforms. The station currently operates frequent international services to Frankfurt, Cologne, and Basel alongside extensive regional services to surrounding areas.
Utrecht is served by Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport, located northwest of the city center. The airport operates several scheduled flights to other main destinations across the globe. The airport is regarded as the third-largest in Europe and the fifth-largest in terms of cargo tonnage.
Leading industry employers include business and financial services, retail and business, medical care, education, and banking. Business services are the leading sector in size, accounting for 31% of companies and 20.2% of employment.
Business services and the medical sector combined account for more than one-third of employment in the city. 16% of the workforce is employed by the health care sector, while 12% are in trade and 10% in education.
The majority of the labor force is Dutch alongside a smaller proportion of Western European, Surinamese, Turkish, and Moroccan people. Dutch is the most widely spoken language, although English is spoken by many as a second language.
The city enjoys a highly skilled and educated workforce that results from a well-developed education and training system. 51% of Utrecht’s labor force is considered highly qualified, significantly higher than the national average of 27%. The city has several universities, institutes, and technical schools, with the most renowned being Utrecht University. The university was founded on March 26th, 1636, and presently enrolls over 30.374 (2014) students making it one of the largest universities in Europe.
Business Costs in Utrecht
Overall the Netherlands offered foreign businesses the cheapest location in Europe in terms of Business costs, ranking third globally behind Mexico and Canada.
The Netherlands individual income tax rates work on a partly progressive scale of 0%-52%, with four tax bands. Residents are required to declare their worldwide income and not just what was earned within the country.
In terms of corporate taxes, the Dutch government has set the standard CIT (corporate income tax) rate stands at 25.8% as of 1 January 2022 (25% in 2021), making it one of the most competitive European markets and an attractive place for companies and investors.
The Netherlands also enjoys a far-reaching tax treaty network comprising more than 80 countries and provides extensive benefits to residents.
The standard VAT rate in the Netherlands is 21%, while a reduced VAT of 9% can be applied to food, agriculture, and other essentials while specific sectors are exempt.
In 2021 the Netherlands set a minimum wage of € 1.745,00 per month (an increase from € 1,680,00) or €436 per week for adults aged 21 and older and over engaged in full-time work.
The Netherlands offered competitive location costs versus other major European cities, with an average office rental cost in Utrecht of €423.53/sq.m per year and in Rotterdam CBD €423.53/sq.m per year.