Setting up a business in Belgium


Located at European crossroads, Belgium has been attracting investors and businessmen for some time now. Find out, in this article, how you can be your own boss in the country.

Thanks to its ideal geographic position, its large international ports, as well as the presence of numerous European institutions, Belgium is very conducive to foreign investment. In fact, the country has been attracting businessmen and entrepreneurs from various countries for a few years due to its simple administrative proceedings regarding the setting up of businesses. Hence, it should not be too difficult for you to set up a business there, provided you fill in required formalities.

Being one of the European Union's main pillars, it offers a mature and dynamic framework to potential entrepreneurs wishing to profit from the various opportunities and benefits it offers.

Key sectors

Belgium's economic activities are based on many dynamic sectors. The textile industry, for instance, has a long history and is full of opportunities for foreign entrepreneurs. In addition to their original European warranty, country is committed not only to preserve the quality of its textile products, but also to strive for innovation and sophistication. Note that the Belgian textile industry exports 70% of its production.

Innovation and creation are other important economic pillars, particularly in Brussels which has become a major in the field of creation. Innovation and creation concerns all sectors which combine dynamism and expertise. Hence, textiles, urban planning and even interior design benefit from incentives which are associated.

Moreover, Belgium is deemed to be one of the world leaders in the field of pharmaceutical and chemical industries. In fact, the country lays emphasis on production, sale, as well as on research in this field. To date, Belgium hosts some 200 firms specializing in pharmaceutical production, especially ethylene, propylene, butadiene, benzene, toluene and xylene.

Finally, the advent of industrial and environmental biotechnology has attracted big chemical industries such as BASF, Bayer, Borealis, BP, Chevron, and Monsanto to Belgium. The agricultural and food industries, including vegetables, potatoes, wheat, beet, are also very important. However, many other agricultural products still have to be imported given the small size of the country.


Foreigners wishing to set up a business in Belgium have to follow a series of proceedings:

Creating the Constitution: this legal document allows the creation of new rights. There are two versions, namely the deed and the private document. You will eventually have to produce this document to the Commercial Court Registry which will issue a business number.

Opening an account in the name of the company: the account is specific to the company and must not be affiliated to any private bank account. Moreover, it will be included on any commercial document which will be issued by the company.

Subscribe to the Companies Data Bank which is the Belgian administration's central registry and collects all information which can identify any existing business in the country. You can apply at one of this organization's 200 tellers or at one of nine other accredited entrepreneurship support organizations.

Verifying conditions for access to regulated professions: some administrative authorizations are required for foreigners wishing to perform in certain fields. The candidate will be required to demonstrate his entrepreneurial management skills, his qualifications, as well as experience. Otherwise, the candidate can also appoint someone else to demonstrate these capabilities.

VAT Registration: once you have received your business number, you must register with the nearest VAT office to your company's head office. Each municipality has its own VAT office. Note that registration is free of charge.

Affiliation with a social fund and insurance: all businessmen in Belgium are required to subscribe to a social fund and insurance to qualify for health insurance, family benefits, as well as pension. If you fail to comply with these regulations, your company will be considered as an illegal company. You might even have to pay a fine.

Types of companies

There are different types of companies in Belgium:

The Non-profit Association which consists of at least 3 individuals and not bringing any sort of profit.

The Private Limited Liability Company: established by one or more individuals who agree that their contribution to the company is similar to a corporation.

The Limited Partnership: this is a company established by one or more jointly and severally liable (general) partners, with one or more sponsors. The Limited Partnership is convenient in the case of entrepreneurs who do not have the capital to start their business.

The Corporation: this company is made up of solidary and responsible associates. Its purpose is to engage in a civil or commercial activity in a social framework.

The Association: the association consists of two or more persons wishing to work for the public interest. Given the fact that the Association has no legal status, it is exempted from all duties and obligations.

Sole proprietorship: it is easy to create and consists of a single individual, namely the founder. The latter's heritage and these of the society are not distinct. Hence, the founder is responsible for the individual company's debts. His property (movable and immovable), as well as that of his or her spouse can be used as collateral for a debt.

The European Economic Interest Grouping (EEIG) for existing businesses: companies can further develop their activities through the EEIG, which is not a company but an association.

Limited Company: these are generally SMEs which consist of at least two shareholders who do not however have a major role in the limited company.

Company Limited by Shares: this company is established by one or more responsible partners. A minimum capital of some 61,500 euros is required. But it can also be set up by one or more limited partners who have invested a fixed capital in advance.

Cooperative Unlimited Liability Company: this type of company generally consists of one or more associates whereby required inputs are vary.

Cooperative Limited Liability Company: it consists of a variable number of associates with variable inputs.

 Useful links:

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

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Leuven, one of Belgium's major cities, is found in the Flemish region. The city offers various career opportunities to foreigners in different fields.
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Being one of Belgium's major cities, Namur is very conducive to professional expatriation. The city hosts many big, small and medium enterprises.
If you are moving to Antwerp, you will not have much trouble in finding a job there provided you have a good knowledge of the Dutch language.
Charleroi is deemed to be Belgium's key industrial hub. Thus, various job opportunities are available there, even for foreigners.

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