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Belgium – Self-Employment

Belgium is a small country in Western Europe known for its rich culture, beautiful architecture, and business-friendly environment. For expats who wish to become self-employed or start a business in Belgium, there are plenty of opportunities and benefits to take advantage of. In this article, we will explore how self-employment works for expats, the process of registering as self-employed, starting a company, and the incentives available for expats in Belgium.

How Self-Employment Works for Expats in Belgium

For expats who wish to become self-employed in Belgium, there are several things to keep in mind. Firstly, it is important to note that expats are allowed to work as self-employed individuals in Belgium. However, they are required to obtain a work permit and residency visa before they can legally work in the country.

Another thing to keep in mind is that Belgium has a relatively high tax rate for self-employed individuals, with a progressive tax rate that ranges from 25% to 50%. This makes Belgium less attractive than some other countries for entrepreneurs and freelancers.

How to Register as Self-Employed in Belgium

The process of registering as self-employed in Belgium can be complex, but it is possible to do it yourself. Here is a step-by-step guide to help you get started:

  1. Register with the Belgian Business Registry: The first step is to register with the Belgian Business Registry (Crossroads Bank for Enterprises). This can be done online or in person at the local Chamber of Commerce. You will need to provide information about your business activities, contact details, and legal status.

  2. Register for VAT: If your business activities involve the sale of goods or services subject to VAT, you will need to register for VAT. This can be done by filling out the necessary forms and submitting them to the tax authorities.

  3. Register with a social security fund: As a self-employed individual, you will need to register with a social security fund. This will provide you with access to health care, pensions, and other social security benefits.

  4. Register for taxes: Finally, you will need to register for taxes by filling out the necessary forms and submitting them to the tax authorities. This will include information about your business activities and any taxes that may apply.

Working as a Digital Nomad in Belgium

For digital nomads who work online, Belgium can be an attractive destination. The country has excellent internet connectivity, a business-friendly environment, and a high quality of life. However, it is important to note that all foreign nationals who wish to work in Belgium must obtain a work permit and residency visa before they can legally work in the country.

Starting a Company in Belgium

For expats who are looking to start a company in Belgium, there are several things to keep in mind. Firstly, it is important to note that Belgium has a relatively complex process for registering a company.


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Another thing to keep in mind is that Belgium has a progressive tax regime for businesses, with a corporate income tax rate of 25%. Additionally, there are other taxes such as VAT, payroll tax, and social security contributions that may apply depending on your business activities.

How to Set Up a Company in Belgium

Here is a step-by-step guide to help you set up a company in Belgium:

  1. Choose a company structure: The first step is to choose the structure of your company. Belgium allows for several types of company structures, including a sole proprietorship, partnership, and limited liability company.

  2. Reserve a company name: Once you have chosen your company structure, you will need to reserve a name for your company. This name must be unique and cannot be similar to any other company names already registered in Belgium.

  3. Draft the company articles: The next step is to draft the company articles. These are the legal documents that define the company’s structure, governance, and activities. This can be done by engaging a lawyer or legal expert.

  4. Open a bank account: To start a company in Belgium, you will need to open a bank account in the name of the company. This will require you to provide the necessary documentation and meet the bank’s requirements.

  5. Register your company: To register your company, you will need to submit the company articles and other necessary documents to the Belgian Business Registry. This will include information about your company structure, company name, and business activities.

  6. Obtain a VAT number: Once your company has been registered, you will need to obtain a VAT number by filling out the necessary forms and submitting them to the tax authorities.

  7. Register for taxes: Finally, you will need to register your company for taxes by filling out the necessary forms and submitting them to the tax authorities. This will include information about your business activities and any taxes that may apply.

Incentives and Programs for Expats in Belgium

Belgium offers several incentives and programs to encourage expats to become self-employed or start a business in the country. These include:

  • The Start-Up Belgium program: The Start-Up Belgium program provides support to start-ups and entrepreneurs in Belgium by providing mentorship, funding, and access to networks.

  • The Belgian Investment Company for Developing Countries: The Belgian Investment Company for Developing Countries provides financing to Belgian companies that wish to invest in developing countries.

  • The Brussels Enterprise Agency: The Brussels Enterprise Agency provides support to entrepreneurs and small businesses in the Brussels region by providing information about the business environment, legal framework, and regulatory requirements.

Belgium is a great destination for expats who wish to become self-employed or start a business. With its business-friendly environment, supportive government policies, and high quality of life, Belgium is an attractive destination for entrepreneurs and freelancers. Whether you are looking to work remotely as a digital nomad or start a company in Belgium, the country has plenty to offer. With its complex but navigable process for registering a company and incentives available for expats, Belgium is definitely worth considering for anyone looking to pursue their business dreams.


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