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Thanks to its geographical location at the centre of Europe, Belgium has become one of the most popular countries to start a business. Here is how to proceed.

Why starting a business in Belgium?

There are many reasons to start a business in Belgium. Some of it include its ideal location within Europe, its international harbours and its undeniable presence on the international scene thanks to the European institutions present in Belgium. But Belgium also has a rather simple administration when it comes to starting a business.

Because of its location within the Old Continent, Belgium is dynamic and experienced. This attracts people who wish to be their own boss. Belgium offers attractive advantages and professional opportunities.

Key sectors

Belgium has many dynamic key sectors.

Textile industry: it has an important history in the country and offers lots of possibilities to foreign entrepreneurs. Textile products made in Belgium always use material coming from Europe and the country makes sure its products are of high quality. Belgium cares about innovation and having sophisticated products. According to statistics, 70% of the production of Belgian textile goes to foreign countries.

Innovation and design: Brussels, the capital city, is one of the best in creative design. This phenomenon uses dynamism and savoir-faire and impacts all sectors. It embodies renewal and inventiveness and profits to city planning, the textile industry, or even interior design.

Pharmaceutical and chemistry industry: major sector for the economy. It concerns both research and sales. Nearly 200 firms within the pharmaceutical industry are implemented on Belgian soil.

Belgium has an important role among international leaders within the chemistry sector. Its savoir-faire in chemistry is recognized worldwide, especially on ethylene, propylene, butadiene, benzene, toluene, and xylene.

Finally, the end of industrial and environmental biotechnology has led to Belgium counting famous names among its chemistry industries: BASF, Bayer, Borealis, Chevron, BP, and Monsanto.

The Agro-Food industry: professionals in this industry are interested in Belgian’s various vegetables, potatoes, wheat, beetroot. However, Belgium has to import lots of agricultural products because of the small size of the country.

How to start a business in Belgium?

Creating a constituent act:

There are two versions of this legal act: the authentic act or the private deed. You then need to give this document to the registry of the Commercial Court to get a business number.

Opening a professional bank account:

This bank account is for the firm only and can’t be related to any personal and private bank account. This account number has to be on every commercial document produced by the firm.

Registering to the Crossroad Bank for Enterprises:

This register gathers all the information that can identify any firm on Belgian soil. To register, you need to go to one of the 200 counters or one of the nine certified organisations that welcome new entrepreneurs.

The candidate then needs to get administrative authorisations in order to access some functions. This process verifies conditions when accessing regulatory positions in Belgium. Candidates have to prove that they have sufficient knowledge in management, a diploma in the area of specialisation, and professional experience. They can ask a third person to testify for them.

Registration to VAT:

Once the candidate has a business number, they need to register at the office that controls VAT. It is free of charge. It needs to be the office where the business is implemented. Each town has one.

Enrolment to a social insurance and a mutual:

Mandatory to receive a health insurance, family benefits, and a retirement pension. Without this enrolment, the candidate is considered an illegal worker. Belgium is very strict when it comes to respecting the law and administrative fines can’t be negotiated.

What types of business can you create in Belgium?

Non-profit organisation: formed of 3 people maximum. Making money is not the aim of the company.

Private limited company: this company is formed by people who invest money in it. It’s similar to a limited liability company. It can be formed by one or more people.

Limited partnership: this company is composed of one or more associates who are responsible together and of one or more funding partners. This sort of company comes in handy when entrepreneurs don’t have sufficient funds to start their business.

Formed partnership: this company is composed of physical people who are associates, responsible and supportive of each other. It is for commercial or civil activities in the social area.

Unincorporated association: it is composed of one or two people who wish to work towards public interest. This type of company has no legal status and is not entitled to any rights or obligations.

Individual company:

  • Easy to create
  • Only one physical person (the creator)
  • No distinct funds between the company and the creator’s estate
  • The creator is responsible for any debts in the individual company
  • The creator’s estate (as well as their partner) can be taken as a guaranty if the company has debts

European Economic Interest Grouping: for existing companies. This grouping helps companies develop their economic activity. It’s a new association and not a new company.

Public limited company: at least two shareholders. It is for both small and big companies. However, shareholders don’t have a major role within the company.

Joint control company: formed by one or more associates. They are all responsible and supportive of one another. It can also be created by one or more associate sponsors who invest a determined capital.

Cooperative company with unlimited liability: formed of associate sponsors. Their number and the amount of money they invest vary.

Cooperative company with limited liability: same details as the previous company.

 Useful links:

Business Belgium
Belgian Government - Department of Economy 
Brussels Enterprises Commerce and Industry

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