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Becoming self-employed while under unemployment: what are the conditions?

Written by Accountable Team
Updated on
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Are you currently receiving unemployment benefits in Belgium and consider starting a self-employed activity? You can do so.

Under certain conditions, you can even start as (complementary) self-employed and still benefit from unemployment allowances.

The other way round is also possible: you can continue the complementary activity that you had before you became unemployed. Again, certain conditions apply, that we’ll explain further.

Unemployed and starter:
“Springplank” or “Tremplin-indépendants”

Facing unemployment can also turn into an opportunity to bounce back and test another activity as a complementary self-employed person. This is the logic of the Belgian “Springplank” or “Tremplin-indépendants”, that translates to “Springboard” in English.

With this system, you start as a complementary self-employed and keep on benefiting from unemployment allowances for 12 months. You need to meet the following conditions:

  • The additional activity has not been your main activity for the last six years.
  • You are not unemployed because you have stopped or reduced your work in order to benefit from that specific Tremplin-indépendants/Springplank system.
  • You carry out the complementary activity yourself. In other terms, you do not get it done by someone else, for example through a subcontracting contract.
  • You must declare your complementary self-employed activity when applying for unemployment benefits: fill in the forms C1 and C1C carefully and accurately. If you are already receiving benefits, you must declare your complementary self-employed activity before you start it.
  • You are not engaged in paid employment nor in artistic activity as defined here or here
  • This program cannot be extended over the initial 12 months period. However, you may be entitled to it several times in your career.

At the end of the 12 months,

➡️ You can choose to start as a full-time self-employed, with your project tested and approved. In that case, you will no longer receive unemployment benefits.


➡️ You give up your complementary activity and you make sure to report that decision to your payment organization as soon as possible. In this case, you can continue to receive unemployment benefits.


➡️ You continue as a complementary self-employed. You still receive unemployment benefits only if you already were a complementary self-employed before becoming unemployed (see conditions in details below).

What is the impact on your budget?

You can combine unemployment benefits and revenues from your secondary activity but within certain limits. Here is an overview:

The daily amount of your unemployment benefit – Amount of daily income* from the supplementary activity > 14.54 euros

*To be calculated as follows: Annual net taxable income/ 312, in the case of a full year.

Are you already self-employed and you become unemployed?

If you were already a complementary self-employed person and lose your main job, you may be able to continue as a complementary self-employed person.

Again, there are a number of strict and precise conditions to be met:

  •  You were already working as a self-employed person in this complementary activity alongside your paid employment, at least for three months before you applied for benefits.

For example, you are 4/5ths employed in a bank and have been working as a photographer since 1 November 2019. You apply for unemployment benefit in mid-February, after losing your bank job.

  • You must declare this additional activity to your payment institution when you apply for the unemployment benefits.

In concrete terms, be careful when filling in Form C1 and answer ‘yes’ to the question “Do you carry out a complementary activity?”  Do not forget to fill in Form C1A as well.

🧨If you fail to fulfill these obligations, you risk having to repay the allowances you have received, being excluded from unemployment benefits for a certain period of time, and, last but not least, ending up in criminal court.

  • You cannot work during the week nor during the day (7-18 hours).
  • Activities that take place after 6 p.m. only are excluded, certain activities related to the execution of construction works, those of HoReCa, performing arts (artistic activities are subject to special rules), canvassing and selling on markets, insurance agent and broker, unless the activity is of minor importance.

❓In case of doubts, explain your situation to your unemployment office.

Do you find yourself under economic unemployment as a result of the coronavirus crisis? We detail this case here!


Our goal at Accountable is to make your life easier at every stage of your a self-employed career: when you want an idea of your net income, prior to starting, for instance, or when you want to register as a self-employed person, or when you dream of an app that manages your accounting and a team that is available for your questions.


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Accountable Team
Accountable Team

This article is presented to you by the Accountable Team, a diverse group of accountants and seasoned freelancers active in Belgium. Thanks to the real-life experience and expertise in topics such as self-employment, taxes, bookkeeping, VAT, and many more, the Accountable Team is able to share insights and practical advice to empower others on their freelance journey. We are dedicated to helping the self-employed thrive in today’s dynamic work environment and fostering a community of independent professionals.

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