Is your head bursting with great ideas, do you have an iron will and an entrepreneurial spirit? Are you dreaming of being your own boss, and Belgium seems like the ideal country to get started? We hate to break it to you, but being self-employed involves at least as many constraints as advantages, and you need to be conscious about them. Becoming a freelancer might seem intimidating to those who do not know what it exactly involves.
Need some help? Here are the 10 steps not to miss!
Apply for a professional card (carte professionnelle/beroepskaart)
Do you come from a country that does not belong to the European Economic Area? Then you will need a professional card (carte professionnelle/beroepskaart) and to register with the Crossroads Bank for Enterprises (Banque-Carrefour des Enterprises/Kruispuntbank van Ondernemingen) to become a freelancer in Belgium. Getting this card is subject to certain conditions (applicant residence permit, compliance with regulatory requirements related to the professional activity, economic interest and viability of the project, etc.).
You can apply for this card at the Belgian embassy or consulate in your home country.
If you are legally residing in Belgium, you can apply with a business counter (guichet d’entreprise/ondernemingsloket) of your choice.
Be aware that some categories of workers are exempt from this rule. For more information on the professional card, click here (Brussels), here (Wallonia) or here (Flanders).
Register with a social security fund
Every quarter, you are required to pay social security contributions, based on your net income. These payments mean that you can benefit from the Belgian social security system. Click here to see the list of social security funds.
Apply for a company number and register at the Crossroads Bank for Enterprises (Banque-Carrefour des Enterprises/Kruispuntbank van Ondernemingen)
To apply, please contact a business counter (guichet d’entreprise/ondernemingsloket), they will accompany you throughout the duration of your business activities.
Apply for registration in the commercial registry
This step is not mandatory for all occupations. Consult the business counter (guichet d’entreprise/ondernemingsloket) of your choice, as they will take care of this formality.
Declare your activity to the VAT inspection office and fill out a VAT return every quarter
The value added tax is a tax on goods and services that you have to charge your customers and need to account for each quarter. Registration is mandatory (unless you belong to certain professions, such as actors, singers, etc.) and can be done at your business counter (guichet d’entreprise/ondernemingsloket).
Open a separate account for business use only
This way you can draw a clear boundary between your professional income and private spending. This step is not necessary if you are registered as an individual and not as a company.
Keep your accounts in order
Remember: All your business documents must include your account number, VAT number and registration number at the Crossroads Bank for Enterprises (Banque-Carrefour des Enterprises/Kruispuntbank van Ondernemingen). When you start out, hiring an accountant might prove itself useful.
Take out health insurance or notify your health insurance of your change in status
Read our article on the Belgian health care system for more details!
Pay your taxes
Prove your basic management knowledge
To get a permit to practice a profession, you need to prove that you are able to manage a business. A degree or professional experience (in Belgium or abroad) are accepted as proof.
For more information see:
Also, if you need a source of information in English, Expatica’s website will answer all your questions.
Want a testimony? Read Antonio’s, an expat working as freelance journalist in Belgium.