Starting as a self-employed in Belgium? Here’s how to choose your business bank account!
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The bank account of a freelancer: that’s where it all begins and ends. For sole proprietorships, opening a business bank account isn’t actually mandatory, but highly recommended. In this article, we compare different professional bank accounts, so you know exactly which one suits you!
💡Did you know that with Accountable, you can link your bank account to easily connect your income and expenses with invoices and receipts? Any unjustified payments are shown upon opening the app: you immediately know where to start to get your accounting in order.
⭐️ More importantly, you get a real-time overview of all your (future) income and expenses, taking into account your social contributions, VAT, and taxes. This way, you know at every moment how much money in your bank account is actually yours. Try Accountable now for free.
- Business bank account for sole proprietorships
- Business bank account for (limited) companies
- Overview of Belgian banks
Is opening a business bank account mandatory for the self-employed?
You are a sole proprietor (eenmanszaak/personne physique)
For sole proprietors (natural persons), opening a professional bank account is not mandatory, but highly recommended.
- Monitor the financial health of your business at any time
Paying for all your self-employed activities from the same account, and having all payments made to it, keeps your financial overview clear. You know exactly how much you can spend today, taking into account all the different taxes you need to pay. This brings a very important benefit: peace of mind.
- Maintain clarity
In the event of a tax audit, your professional income and expenses are reviewed. If you mix professional and personal income and expenses, the tax auditor is obliged to review your personal expenses.
You can open a professional bank account in your name at a bank of your choice. If desired, you can opt for a current account with minimal services and fees. For example, for those self-employed in a secondary occupation, a current account with a bank card and the ability to perform online transactions often suffices. This also helps to reduce costs.
Although you should keep your private and business bank accounts as separate as possible, as a sole proprietor you can transfer funds between them without limits. You own the money in your business account and do not need to justify transferring money to your own account.
However, be careful not to book transfers from your private to your business account as professional income – you certainly don’t want to pay taxes on this. Our app allows you to classify these types of transactions as a private transaction or transfer of capital.
You are a director in a limited company (BV/SRL)
For self-employed individuals in a company, having a separate business account is not only advantageous but also mandatory.
As a company director, you have no choice but to open a professional account in the name of your company. This bank account number is listed on all your invoices and is registered in the KBO register.
Therefore, you select this account – in the name of your company – from the various professional offerings available at the banks. These often include several attractive features for legal entities, such as a professional credit, for example. Generally, the banks have a basic offering to which you can add various options, such as payment terminals or a fuel card, tailored to your needs and budget.
What is the best bank to open a business account?
Finding the best bank for opening a business account doesn’t have to be a complex task. Look for the bank account that best suits your professional activity and meets your needs. For instance, as a self-employed professional, you probably need fewer services than a business manager in a private limited company.
Here are some interesting criteria to consider in your search for the best business account for your company:
Who still wants to interrupt their day and queue at the bank? Only a few amongst you, and even fewer when you are preparing a business project and every minute counts. Unfortunately, for the majority of banks, you need to visit in person.
With the banks listed below, you can quickly and easily open your business bank account from your sofa.
- ING: Easily open your bank account as a natural person online at ING via an online form. Then validate your data via email or letter, and receive your bank card and card reader by mail. You can also open a corporate account via Business Bank or Telelink Online.
Cost: starting at €72.00/year – get the first year free as a starting freelancer.
- KBC: Open your business account online at KBC in just a few clicks. Your bank card and card reader will be sent later by mail.
Cost: starting at €39.00/year.
- Hello Bank: Apply for your business account online in just 5 minutes.
Cost: free online account and debit card for natural persons.
- Bnp Paribas Fortis: You can also easily and quickly open your business account online with this bank.
Cost: free for natural persons (see Hello Bank) and from €24.00/year for legal entities (companies).
- Belfius: If you are already a customer of Belfius, you can easily open a business account online via the app or website. Not a customer yet? Then you need to visit in person.
Cost: starting at €30.00/year.
Little to no bank fees
For self-employed individuals with a sole proprietorship (natural persons), the costs of opening a business account are generally quite low. Often, it’s even free, as is the case with Hello Bank. Or, if you are already a customer at a bank, you can often open a business account at a favorable rate.
A professional bank account for legal entities (companies), on the other hand, is often not free. Compare the offerings and included services of different banks and determine exactly what you need. The more services you require, the more you will pay for your business account.
In the previous paragraph, we have already given you an indicative price per bank.
💡Accountable tip: Banking fees, such as registration and administration costs, are 100% tax-deductible. This means you can deduct the cost from your income to lower your net taxable income. Connect your bank account with our app, and we will remind you to book bank charges as a business expense.
Open your professional bank account in person
If you prefer not to open your bank account online from your sofa and would rather meet in person, or if you want more information about the product, most banks offer informative or advisory consultations.
Some banks also provide support for your startup as a self-employed individual. They often collaborate with a social insurance counter and can apply for your business number on your behalf. Additionally, as a new entrepreneur, you often enjoy a number of benefits, such as a free business account for one year.
Are you a starting freelancer? Be sure to check out these starter packs:
Consider a Neobank
N26, Revolut, Qonto, Bunq, and their peers: neobanks have gained popularity in Europe in recent years, offering a 100% mobile banking experience. Their apps are user-friendly, and their rates are attractive. However, as a self-employed individual based in Belgium, you might quickly feel their limitations.
With most neobanks, such as N26 and Revolut, you cannot go into overdraft. You can’t use structured communications: if you want to pay your social contributions or taxes, you need to make a transfer to a traditional account and from there, make a transfer with a structured communication to the tax authorities or social insurance fund. Your IBAN is a foreign IBAN. With the Finnish bank Holvi, for example, your IBAN will be Finnish. One of our users reported that her foreign IBAN was refused by a business counter.
Examples of neobanks
With 4 million users in Europe and a fundraising of 50 million euros, this neo-bank competes with the big players.
- This bank is for the big fish: a user with a company confided to us that he had to ask his accountant for a letter stating that he had a turnover of less than one million euros to close his account and obtain a refund of the management fees for the remaining months of the year.
This German neobank promises you an account within 8 minutes. But it also admits on its website that:
- You must use Transferwise to make an overseas transfer. With N26, you can’t make foreign transfers yourself.
- B2B payments are not possible.
This Finnish bank is a real veteran: established in 2011, it can be used on your computer and smartphone. Its major advantage:
- Holvi offers a professional account, including a MasterCard, for free. These are the pros and cons of neo-banks.
That said, the world is changing rapidly, very rapidly, and the neo-banks will undoubtedly undergo many more evolutions.
Want to know what we at Accountable do with your bank data? Good question! You can find the answer here.
Other interesting reads:
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