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Opening a free professional bank account: for whom and how?

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It’s a common question among people that are considering becoming self-employed: is it mandatory to open a professional account for my business? And above all, is it absolutely necessary to pay for this professional bank account?

In this article, we take stock of the obligations you have as a self-employed professional regarding your bank account and the different (free) options you have when it comes to choosing the right account for you!

Self-employed in Belgium? Is it mandatory to have a professional bank account?

If you are a natural person (personne physique/eenmanszaak), you are not required to open a professional account.

However, there are a number of reasons to do so:

  • If you were to face a tax audit, the tax authorities have permission to look at all the accounts you have used for your business. Therefore, if you use your private account, they can also look at your private transactions.
  • Your bank account is the nervous system of your activity. This is where all your professional income and expenses come together. Therefore it is in your best interest to have the best possible overview of your professional income and expenditures and to open a separate account for this.

In Accountable, you can link your bank accounts to create one central place where all your business transactions and accounting documents come together.  This way you can see in real time how much money you are actually allowed to spend, taking into account your VAT balance and your future social contributions. Moreover, you receive a notification as soon as a client pays you. Finally, your bank transactions and invoices are automatically reconciled. In this way, you will never lose a receipt again!

So a separate bank account for your company is definitely recommended. However, it is not necessary to open a special, professional account for this with your bank. You can also opt for a regular account that offers all the basic services you need. In this article we will help you choose an account for your business.

⚠️ Some bank accounts appear free, but as soon as you need to replace a card or withdraw money from a counter, you’re in for a surprise. Caroline Sury, journalist at L’Echo, follows these cases closely. Here you can find an overview.

Do you have a company? Then you are obliged to open a professional bank account.

This account, like your working capital, will be in the name of your company.

The accounts that you can open for this purpose are so-called company accounts and almost never free. At ING, for example, you pay €44 per year for an account as a self-employed professional with a company.

⚠️ To open a professional bank account, you need a company number… Often, however, you don’t have this yet, when you start the process. The solution? You start the process at the bank by asking if they can “reserve” a bank account number for you. Once you are fully registered with the Crossroads Bank for Enterprises, you can then ask the bank to open the account permanently.

Having a professional account also has its advantages: for example, with a professional account you can apply for credit as a company. Before you choose a bank, consider what you really need: a payment terminal? One or more cards? The ability to give a power of attorney? Also check whether your bank offers certain benefits for starters.

In this article, we compare the accounts of KBC, Belfius, ING and BNP Paribas Fortis and discuss what you can expect from neo-banks.

Spoiler: the foreign account numbers of neo-banks are in practice not always recognised by the social insurance funds. This can lead to problems, for example with the payment of your social contributions.

No matter if you have a paid or a free bank account, you can link it to Accountable. Using PSD2, we are able to link your account to our app, which brings your bank transactions and accounting together in one place.

Sibylle Greindl, creating content and communities
Sibylle Greindl, creating content and communities

Sibylle is fond of words and stories. She used to be one of the testers of Accountable, back in the old days. She found the app pretty convincing and decided to join its team.
She now makes sure as many self-employed professionals as possible can access the experience she had, when starting on Accountable!

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