International trade in services

What does the survey comprise?


The aim of the International trade in services statistics is to publish data on imports and exports of services by enterprises established in the Netherlands. With regard to international travel, data on expenditure by Dutch travelers abroad and foreign travelers in the Netherlands are also published. The collected data form a basis for the current account of the balance of payments of the Netherlands, the measurement of the gross national product (GNP) and economic growth. In addition, the data is included in European statistics.

Target population

Enterprises established in the Netherlands with import or export of services are the target population of this study. The information on inbound and outbound travel relates to expenses of Dutch residents traveling abroad.

Statistical unit

The International trade in services statistic is based on enterprises established in the Netherlands that trade in services with other countries. Data from persons resident in the Netherlands is collected for outbound travel.

Methodological basis

From the first quarter of 2014, Statistics Netherlands publishes data on International Trade in Services based on the methodological guidelines of the sixth edition of the “Balance of Payments Manual 6” (BPM6).


Figures on international trade in services are made available on StatLine every quarter. Annual figures are also published when data for the fourth quarter is published.

Publication strategy

As a rule, provisional quarterly figures become available three months after the period under review. The figures may be adjusted six months after the quarter under review as a result of improvements and increases in response. This means that during this time the figures remain provisional. Definite quarterly figures become available in the last quarter of the statistical year. The annual, more detailed figures become available at the same time.

Figures that may reveal the identity of individual respondents are not published and marked as “x” in the StatLine table.

Figures on Dutch international trade in services are available on a quarterly and annual basis. Provisional quarterly figures are available one quarter after the end of the reporting period. With the publication of a new quarter, the figures for the previous quarter and, if applicable, the other previous quarters of the year concerned are also adjusted on the basis of new source material (further provisional figures). As soon as four quarters of a year are available, an annual calculation is made based on these four quarterly figures. This annual calculation will be available in the spring of the following year. The annual calculation is then adjusted in the autumn and again in the autumn of the following year, this time final. The quarterly figures for the relevant year will then also be revised.For reasons of confidentiality, certain import and export figures are published only partially or not at all. This is necessary to avoid disclosure of individual enterprise data. The StatLine tables then contain a ".". Active confidentiality applies in this survey. This means that Statistics Netherlands also applies confidentiality without request from individual enterprises.

How is the survey conducted?

Survey type

The International trade in services statistic measures the Dutch trade in services with other countries. In addition to our own observations, additional data sources are used to estimate the service figures.

  • Each quarter, Statistics Netherlands requests enterprises to supply data on imports and exports of services. The large enterprises (i.e. those with high values of imports or exports of services) in the international trade in services are all observed, while for the smaller enterprises (i.e. those with lower values of imports or exports of services), the results are based on a sample.
  • For information on travel services, the import value of travel (= expenditure of Dutch residents abroad) is based on the results of the Continuous Holiday Survey conducted by NBTC-NIPO Research. The estimation of export value of travel (= spending by foreigners in the Netherlands) is based on sample data from survey of overnight stays in Dutch accommodation and the price index figures for consumption by foreigners in the Netherlands.
  • In addition, Statistics Netherlands receives data via the Dutch Central Bank. This concerns information about the international services of Special Financial Institutions (SFIs).
  • In addition to the observed enterprise data and data from Special Financial Institutions, data is also used based on specific calculations to compile the figures on financial services. This applies to some other small financial flows such as trade margins on securities transactions and indirectly measured financial services of banks (FISIM).
  • The figures for insurance services are made on the basis of observations and combined with the ratios between the foreign and domestic parts of insurance services calculated by National Accounts.
  • To compile the figures on government services, data is used on the export side about, among other things, perception costs that the Netherlands obtains for collecting European customs and agricultural levies and data about business expenditure from international organizations and foreign embassies in the Netherlands.

Own survey CBS

Survey method

Every quarter, over 5,600 enterprises receive a request to provide data on the import and export of services. This data is provided via an electronic questionnaire.


Statistics Netherlands directly approaches enterprises based in the Netherlands for the International trade in services statistic. From the total population of enterprises established in the Netherlands, a selection is made of the enterprises that are likely to be active in international trade in services. This is done by using the " VAT Information Exchange System" (VIES) that exporters established in the Netherlands provide to the tax authorities. The information contained therein forms an important frame of reference for the export of services within the EU. For the import of services, the VIES statements of enterprises in other EU countries that have indicated in their country that they have provided services to Dutch enterprises are used.

Sample size

Enterprises that Statistics Netherlands approaches directly with a questionnaire can be divided into two groups. The first group of enterprises consists of approximately 400 enterprise groups with significant import and export value for services. They receive a detailed questionnaire in which imports and exports are broken down into more than 70 services and approximately 250 countries. A sample of approximately 5 thousand units is drawn annually from the other enterprises with a strong suspicion of international trade in services. They receive the same questionnaire about services, but only have to split their trade to the EU and / or non-EU trade. Once a enterprise is included in the sample, there is a good chance that this enterprise will have to provide its data for a few years in a row.

Checking and correction methods

The plausibility of the provided data is checked on the basis of previously provided data, reference data from the VIES and striking developments at macro, meso and micro level. Corrections are made where necessary. Units that have not (yet) responded at the time of publication are assigned a value based on data from previous quarters.


Statistics Netherlands collects part of the needed data via a stratified sample. The stratification takes place on the basis of economic activity and the (expected) value of imports and exports of services of the enterprise. Based on these stratification characteristics, the data obtained is weighted according to the framework from which the sample was drawn.The import of travel is weighted according to the total of the Dutch population on the basis of stratification characteristics of travelers to foreign countries (gender, age, region, urbanization and education). For the export of travel, sample data from overnight stays is weighted by means of a regression estimator against the total population of overnight stays. Data from the other sources are included in the results without weighting - one to one.

Quality of the results


Compiling a accurate sampling frame is not easy for statistics on International Trade in Services. Not all enterprises in the Netherlands are active in international trade in services. By making use of data sources such as the VIES data, the most effective and complete possible sampling framework is composed of enterprises that import and export services. Additional estimates are made for smaller enterprises that are excluded from the sampling frame.

Sequential comparability

From the first quarter of 2014, Statistics Netherlands has been producing figures based on the new sixth edition of the Balance of Payments Manual (BPM6).
As of 2020, a redesign of the international trade in services statistics has taken place. The figures always follow the guidelines of BPM6 but are made in a new way. To enable time series and mutual comparison, it was decided to publish 2020 in both the new and the old way. 2020 in the old way is model-based using response data and auxiliary data. The new table includes 2020 and beyond according to the new series.