Step by step: registering as self-employed in Belgium
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You have finally made the decision to become self-employed, well done!
As a first stap, you need to register with an enterprise counter and apply for an enterprise number. In this article, we explain step by step how and when you can register as an entrepreneur.
What do you need to register as self-employed?
It is best to first gather all the documents and information you need to register. This is what you’ll need:
- Your national registry number (it is on the back of your ID card and starts with your date of birth reversed);
- The bank account number you want to use for your business;
- A business name for your business (it can also be your own name);
- The address where your business is located (it can be your own address);
- Any authorizations;
- for certain sectors such as construction, an access to the profession;
- for companies: the memorandum of association filed at the registry.
Choose your enterprise counter
What is an Enterprise Counter?
Now that you have gathered all the data and documents, you need to choose an enterprise counter. An enterprise counter is the first point of contact for any self-employed professional. They will take care of the necessary administrative obligations for you to start your business:
- Your registration with the Crossroads Bank of Enterprises (CBE) and the application of your enterprise number;
- The activation of your enterprise number as a VAT number;
- Your affiliation to a social insurance fund, in order to be able to pay you social contributions. Usually, the company counter is also your social insurance fund.
What do you need to fill out on the application?
What does the application form for a business window look like? Here’s what you’ll complete:
- You fill in all the information about your company: name, contact information, bank account number.
- You choose a type of company: Sole proprietorship (personne physique or eenmanszaak) or legal entity (SRL or BV).
- You choose a date to start your business.
- You indicate which activities you will carry out. To do this, you choose from a list of defined codes and descriptions. For example, if you are a freelance translator, you choose code 74300: translators and interpreters. You describe a main activity (the one from which you expect the highest turnover) and up to five other activities.
- You choose a VAT regime: Subject to VAT, Exempt of VAT because of your profession, VAT exemption for small businesses or mixed VAT status.
- You indicate whether you file the VAT return monthly or quarterly.
What’s the cost?
You will have to pay the enterprise counter for processing your documents. The price for a CBE registration is fixed by law (92.50 euros in 2022). The price for the rest of the administration, such as the activation of your VAT number and advice, varies between the different authorized business counters, but usually is around 60 euros.
Which enterprise counter should you choose?
You are free to choose your enterprise counter. Most enterprise counter allow you to register as a self-employed professional online or by visiting one of their offices.
Some offices offer additional services and insurances, such as a PLCI (Supplementary Free Pension for the Self-employed) or a guaranteed income insurance.
On the government’s website, you will find a list of approved business counters.
Join a health insurance
This may seem obvious if you were previously working as an employee, but don’t forget to join a health insurance. Your social insurance fund collects your social security contributions, but this does not replace your health insurance. If you were already affiliated with one, mention your change of status from employee to self-employed to them.
Are there any differences between registering as a company or as a self-employed person?
Are you starting up as a company and not as a self-employed person? You will follow the same steps, but the creation of a company still imposes some additional legal obligations.