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A Guide to Starting a Business in Belgium

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Located right at the heart of the European market, Belgium is the second-most densely populated European region that hosts over 140 million consumers within a 300-mile radius. This beautiful country, known for its architecture, is often seen as the crossroads of Europe and is home to some powerful decision-making institutions, including the headquarters of the European Union.

With its history of high-quality products, talented and educated multilingual forces, and an attractive tax regime, Belgium is one of the most attractive European destinations for foreign investors and entrepreneurs.

If you have decided to start a business in Belgium, we have just the guide you need!

How to Start a Business in Belgium

Here is a step-by-step guide to help you set up a business in this much-loved European country.

Step 1 – Select the Right Business Type

The first step is to have a strong and clear idea about the type of business you want to start in Belgium. A precise, comprehensible, and well-laid-out business plan is the key to help you decide on the legal entity that will be able to provide you with the appropriate management structure. After all, your business’s account, tax system, and liability will vary, according to the choice of business structure.

There are many legal entities, each with specific characteristicsthat can be chosen by an entrepreneur starting a business in Belgium. It is vital to identify an entity that is most appropriate for your business operations.

Here are some of the most common business types in Belgium:

  • Sole Traders
  • Partnerships
  • Limited Liability Company
  • Public Limited Company
  • Simplified Joint Stock Company

Step 2 – Open a Current Account

As a new entrepreneur in Belgium, you need to set up a corporate bank account to conduct commercial transactions. The required documentation to open your corporate account willvary from bank to bank. This bank account number, along with the name of the bank where the account is maintained, must be mentioned on all commercial documents.

Step 3 – Establish a Corporate Entity

Establishing a corporate entity is one of the most important and complex steps to set up your business in Belgium.

Here are a few things you will need to do to establish your corporate entity.

Draw Up the Articles of Association

The articles of association need to be included with the company’s memorandum of association. This document typically contains the founders’ names, company’s name and objective, and other rules related to the governance of the company.

Apply for a Bank Certificate

If you’re looking to incorporate a public limited company, you will require a fixed amount of minimum capital. The capital has to be fully subscribed when establishing the company. Once you deposit this money into your corporate account, the bank will issue a certification, verifying that the amount has been deposited to a blocked current account registered in the company’s name.

Draw up a Memorandum of Association

The memorandum of association is an essential part of a company’s creation. This document drawn up by the notary requires the financial plan and bank certificate of the business. It also requires a report from the auditor and founders of the company regarding any cash contributions made to the company.

Draw up a Financial Plan

It is crucial to draw up a financial plan that you can hand over to the notary for the incorporation of the company.

Register the Memorandum of Association

Registering the memorandum of association is a crucial step that needs to occur within 15 days at the FOD Finance registration office.

Publish the Memorandum of Association

A company’s founders are required to submit an extract of the memorandum of association to the commercial court registry in their region within 15 days of the company’s creation. The notary and other liable associates must verify this extract.

Here are the documents you will be required to submit:

  • An extract of the memorandum of association
  • Transcription of the extract
  • Mandates attached to the deed
  • Bank certificate (if applicable)

A company gets its official legal personality the day the memorandum of association extract is submitted to the commercial court registry. This extract is published in the Belgian Official Gazette within 15 days by a court clerk. Third parties have the right to object to the memorandum once it has been published.

Open a Company Register

Step 4 – Apply For Your Unique Business Number

You need to register at the Crossroads Bank for Enterprises or the Kruispuntbank van Ondernemingen before you start carrying out any commercial or trade activities. The enterprise county will verify if your company meets all requirements. If it does, they will register your company. Once registered, you will receive your unique business number that comprises 10 digits and is the same as your VAT number.

Remember to take the following documents for the registration process:

  • Identity card
  • Bank account number

In some cases, you may even need special licenses. For instance,if you’re a partnership, you will need an extract from the articles of association.

Step 5 – Activate your VAT Number

Any entity engaging in regular economic activity or in the independent supply of goods and services listed in the VAT code must pay VAT. You must register your company with the VAT administration office in your region with the same business number you received at the business one-stop-shop. VAT registration can either be done electronically or in person.

Step 6 – Register with a Social Security Fund

Once you’ve established your company, it is mandatory to register your company and yourself with a social security fund.

Wrapping Up

With a unique location that offers direct access to a huge, wealthy customer base and an attractive tax regime, you should probably ask yourself why you haven’t already set up your business in Belgium. If you have finally decided to start a business in this modern industrialized country with breathtaking old architecture, we hope this guide helps you!

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