International trade in services

What does the survey comprise?


To provide and publish data on imports and exports of services by enterprises and individuals registered in the Netherlands.
The collected data are used for the current accounts of the Netherlands balance of payments, and also used in the calculation of the gross domestic product and economic growth. In addition, these data are integrated in the European statistics.

Target population

Enterprises and individuals registered in the Netherlands and active in imports or exports of services. Data for international services, except travel, are based on survey of enterprises. Data for travel are based on individual information from household surveys and on sample data from Dutch Accommodation Statistics.

Statistical unit

Enterprises and individuals registered in the Netherlands.

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).


The figures on Dutch international trade in services are available on a quarterly and an annual basis.  Annual data become available at the same time as the fourth quarter figures.

Publication strategy

Provisional quarterly figures become available one quarter after the reporting period. With the publication of new quarterly figures,  figures for the preceding quarter are also adjusted   based on  afterwards received source  information (more detailed provisional figures). Definite quarterly figures become available in the autumn of the following year. The annual figures become available on StatLine at the same time. Figures that may reveal the identity of individual respondents are not published and marked as “x” in the StatLine table.

How is the survey conducted?

Survey type

For the estimation of the service figures, different data sources are used.
- Each quarter  Statistics Netherlands approaches companies domiciled in the Netherlands directly with the request to provide data on the 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 (integral), while for the smaller enterprises (i.e. those with lower values of imports or exports of services), the results are based on a sample.
 - Also data from statistics on International trade in goods  are used. Adjustments made on the figures of the freight transport statistics and freight insurance are based on specific figures of International trade in goods.
- For information on travel the following sources are used. The import value of  travel (= expenditure of Dutch residents who travel abroad) is based on the results of the Continuous Holiday Survey (CVO) conducted by NBTC-NIPO Research. The export value of  travel (= spending’s by foreign travellers who visit the Netherlands) is based on sample data from Accommodation Statistics (SLA) and Price indices regarding the consumption of foreigners in the Netherlands. For the figures of healthcare-related and education-related travel external sources are used, these are  data of the Care Institute Netherlands and NUFFIC respectively.
- Furthermore, Statistics Netherlands receives data through the Dutch Central Bank. This includes information on international trade in services of Monetary Financial Institutions and Special Financial Institutions.
- For the composition of figures for financial services, in addition to the data obtained from the observed sources, also  data based on specific calculations are used. This applies to buying and selling spreads and FISIM.
- Figures for insurance services are based on a calculated ratio between the foreign and domestic part of insurance.
- For compiling  figures on government services, n.i.e. inter alia, data on perception costs that  Dutch government obtains for the collection of European customs and agricultural levies and data on spending by international organizations in the Netherlands are used.

Detection method

Quarterly, enterprises domiciled in the Netherlands received a request to provide data on imports and exports of services. These data are mainly provided via electronic questionnaires.

Sample size

Companies which Statistics Netherlands approaches for international trade in services are divided into two groups. The first group of companies consists of approximately 400 companies with high values of imports or exports of services. They receive a detailed questionnaire in which the input and output is broken down into more than 70 services and 250 countries. The second group of companies(i.e. those with lower values of imports or exports of services), sampled in about 5 thousand units. This group receives a less detailed questionnaire with a breakdown into approximately 55 services.

Checking and correction methods

Results are compared with those  of previous years (time series) to analyse data plausibility.
In the case of non-response, values are imputed on the basis of figures from earlier quarters. If these figures are missing an extra weight method is applied.
The plausibility is monitored on the basis of time series (previously supplied data) and notable developments at macro, meso and micro levels. Where it is necessary, corrections are made. Respondents that not (yet) have delivered their figures at the time of publication are imputated by a calculated value on the basis of data of previous quarters. If this information is missing, the figures are extra incremented.


The stratification of the sample enterprises is based on economic activity, employee size class and the expected chance that the enterprise is involved in import or export of services. Using these characteristics, data are subsequently weighted by the frame from which the sample is drawn. Imports of travel are based on characteristics of travellers abroad (sex, age, region, urbanization and education) grossed up to) the total Dutch population. For exports of travel, samples from Dutch accommodation providers are weighted using a regression estimator for the total population of accommodation providers. Data from other sources are included in the results without weights.

Quality of the results


It is not easy to establish an accurate sampling frame for statistics on international trade in services. Not all enterprises can be used for the sampling frame. Statistics on international trade in services describe imports and exports of services in the Netherlands. The population is defined as all enterprises (and individuals) registered in the Netherlands. The number of enterprises  which are actually active in services is small compared with the total number of enterprises in the Netherlands. Therefore it is not efficient to use all companies as a sampling frame. By combining various data sources such as datafrom intra-Community acquisitions and international bank transactions, an efficient and complete target population of companies could be composed to measure totalDutch import and export of services. For the companies lacking in the various source an estimation method is used.

Sequential comparability

Until early 2014, figures on international trade in services were compiled accordingly guidelines of the fifth edition of the Balance of Payments Manual (BPM5) stated by the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
From the first quarter of 2014 figures on international trade in services are based on new sixth edition of the Balance of Payments Manual (BPM6). By using different data sources and new statistical methods, figures for the International Trade in Services on 2014 are composed in a different way than in previous years. As a result, these figures are not directly comparable with the figures for 2013 and earlier.
For compilation of statistics on International trade in services sample data is used. With the availability to use for the statistical purposes the official information from intra-Community acquisitionsis the opportunity arise to design more accurate sampling frame.