Become a freelancer in Belgium
Launching a business in Belgium
Doing business in Belgium as a foreign company
Four possibilities need to be envisaged :
The first possibility is that of a foreign company that decides not to set up in Belgium. In that case, it can decide to hire workers who work from their homes, for example, without the company having offices on Belgian territory. The workers of course will be subject to Belgian social security and the foreign company need only be identified with the Crossroads Bank for Enterprises.
The second possibility pertains to a foreign company that chooses to open an office in Belgium without having a fixed establishment in Belgium. In this case, the company must prove its entrepreneurial skills, in addition to enrolling with the Crossroads Bank for Enterprises.
The third possibility refers to a foreign company that decides to open a branch with an establishment in Belgium. The branch will remain subject to the law of this country of origin but it must be represented in Belgium by an agent with a permanent address in Belgium. In addition, the deed of incorporation plus any amendment of the Articles of Association must be translated into French or Dutch and lodged with the Commercial Court. Finally, the company must be registered at the Crossroads Bank for Enterprises and entrepreneurial skills must be proven.
The fourth possibility is when a business is created in Belgium. This subsidiary will be subject to Belgian law and it must have a legal status recognized by Belgian law. The deed of incorporation must be drafted by a notary in Belgium and lodged with the Commercial Court. Once the articles of association have been published, the company must register with the Crossroads Bank for Enterprises and demonstrate its entrepreneurial skills.
Registration to the Crossroads Bank for Enterprises and the enterprise number
The Crossroads Bank for Enterprises is a register containing comprehensive identification data related to businesses and their ‘establishment units’ (i.e. business locations). It includes data from the national register of legal entities and the trade register and VAT and NSSO information.
Any company or self-employee doing business in Belgium has to register at the Crossroads Bank for Enterprises. By doing so, the company or the self-employee gets its unique enterprise number as a means of identification.
The registration can take place at any business counters such as Formalis : Group S business counter.
The business counter checks whether the company meets the conditions for practicing its profession (knowledge of basic management and professional knowledge, professional card for foreigners, etc.).
The following documents have to be supplied to register at a business counter:
personal identification data of the founder or founders;
- the corporate and trade names of the business;
- the legal form;
- operating addresses (including phone and fax numbers and e-mail address);
- the start date of the business’s activities;
- the publication date of the articles of incorporation in the Belgian Official Gazette;
- the account number of a financial institution;
- proof of knowledge of basic management and where appropriate of professional expertise (entrepreneurial skills);
- special permits (e.g. foreigners’ card);
- a copy of the articles of association and a management mandate certificate.
The total cost of the registration is 87 euro.
A professional card is mandatory for all self-employed workers who do not come from the European Union, the European Economic Area or Switzerland. This card can be requested at an embassy of Belgium abroad or at a one-stop-shop business service in Belgium such as Group S.
Freelance as main occupation
To work as a freelance in Belgium, 2 formalities are needed :
- Registration with the Trade Registry (Crossroads Bank for Enterprises) and with the VAT. To this end, you must prove that you have entrepreneurial skills through a diploma or a professional experience . Access to the profession is also required to perform some particular activities.
- Affiliation with a social insurance fund for self-employed workers.
Freelance as secondary occupation
As an employee you may also work as freelance on top of your main occupation. Same formalities apply as for freelances, namely registration with the Trade Registry and with the VAT and affiliation with a social insurance fund. If the employment contract comes to an end, the employee has the choice between stopping his freelance occupation or becoming freelance as main occupation.
If you are a non-EU national, and not from Swiss, Norway, Iceland or Lichtenstein you also must hold a professional card.