FAQFrequently asked questions

Before chosing the corporate form you have to decide whether you create a Branch office or a subsidiary of the parent company.

Branch office

An extension of a parent company located in another country. It is wholly-owned by the parent company, that is liable for all the debts and obligations of the Belgian branch office. A branch office does not have stocks, shares, a board of directors, or minimum capital requirements.

Subsidiary

A company created and capitalized in Belgium by the parent company. It has its own board of directors, is liable for its assets and subject to Belgian law, even if controlled from outside Belgium. A subsidiary can be established as a public stock corporation, limited liability company (LLC), a cooperative, general partnership, sole proprietorship or joint venture. A subsidiary and parent company are considered as separate legal entities.

The most largely used corporate forms are the following ones:

Stock Corporation

The ‘NV/SA’ format is most often chosen for larger enterprises. This is an anonymous partnership, share company, or joint-stock company, equivalent to public limited company in common law jurisdictions.

Limited Liability company

A ‘bvba/sprl’ structure is attractive for small companies. This is a privately owned company with a limited liability and legal persona.

Cooperative company

A cooperative company structure is a flexible corporate form that can be structured for unlimited or limited liability.

A Stock Corporation, known as ‘NV/SA’ requires a minimum capital of €61,500, to be paid in by the founders at the time of incorporation.

A Limited Liability company, known as bvba/sprl requires minimum capital of €18,550, of which €6,200 must be fully paid in at the time of incorporation.

A Cooperative, known as cvoha/scris or CV/SC requires €18,550 or €6,200, depending on the company type.

In addition to capital injection, fees for the services of an accountant, and company registration fees (through a notary) may be required depending on the kind of entity to be created.

Once you decide which structure is best for your activity, you will need to constitute and register the company. The legal steps required when establishing a company are similar for a corporate legal forms and consists of the following steps:

  • Opening a bank account to deposit the minimum capital required
  • Notarizing and registering the deed of incorporation of the company
  • Register the company to the “Crossroads Bank for Enterprises”

An accountant specialized in company creation can advise you on the documents and registration process for creating a specific type of company in Brussels – including corporate statutes, tax and social security registration, health insurance payroll and employment obligations and other formalities.

EU Citizens:

All European Union citizens and citizens of the European Economic Area can live and work in Belgium without formalities and a work permit. EEA includes Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Switzerland.

Non-EU citizens:

Non-EU citizens wishing to be employed in Belgium need to apply for a work permit and be legally resident in Belgium to work here (See the Invest in Brussels Guidelines for details).

Non-EU citizens wishing to be self-employed in Belgium need a professional card to practice their profession.

Work permit types

Belgium issues three types of work permits: AC Permit - valid for one year for multiple employers (typically for migrant agricultural or domestic workers); G Permit - not renewable; A/B Permit - valid for one employer for one year; renewable, typically by the same employer for the same position.

Unlimited duration contracts – An open contract. Employer or employee can terminate the agreement subject to a notice period.

Fixed-term employment contract – Employer and employee agree that the contract will automatically end at a specific date.

Contracts for clearly defined tasks – A contract that expires when a specific task is completed.

Temporary employment contracts – To replace a permanent worker, or to respond to an increase work and labor needs.

Corporate tax on profits is currently set at 33.99%. This will be reduced to 25% starting 2019 for big corporations. For Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs), the corporate tax rate will be fall to 20.4% on the first bracket of euro100.000 of net taxable income from 2019 and will be 20% from 2021.

Personal income tax in Belgium is based on a progressive rate of taxable income, ranging from 25% to a maximum rate of 50%. To reduce taxable income, a wide range of deductions is possible.

Administrative and professional staff are paid monthly. Most employees receive a 13th month additional salary payment every year and double holiday pay, equivalent to 89% of the monthly salary. Salaries are inflation-adjusted.

Employees can also be remunerated in ‘in-kind benefits’, this reduces social security contributions tied to salary levels. In-kind benefits include company car, mobile phone, computer, group insurance, pension fund, stock options.

If you are starting a company in Brussels, one of the many payroll agencies can advise on employment contracts and help set up the payroll scheme.

Social security

Payment of social security contributions is compulsory. Professional staff and workers pay 13.07% of their gross salary to the national social security fund; employers pay 25% of the employee’s gross salary.

Belgian social security provides for unemployment benefits, pensions, sickness and disability benefits, family and child allowances, workers' compensation for accidents and healthcare.

To estimate employment costs for a company you are creating, see belgiumtaxcalculator

Health care in Belgium is recognized as offering among the highest cost/quality in Europe. It was ranked by a patient survey as fourth in Europe on total score, with the best ranking on availability – with waiting times that are very rare.

All registered residents in Belgium are covered by the national health care system, funded by social security contributions. National health insurance reimburses a large percentage of most types of health care costs, including doctors’ visits, medical interventions, therapies and medication. Residents in Belgium a have a choice of health care providers who present clear reimbursable policies; and offer additional services to cover 100% of health care cost.

When setting-up your enterprise in Belgium, you can benefit from a range of tax incentives, including deductions for the cost of capital, on patent income, on hiring of researchers and related costs, and on capital gains.

Brussels also offers advantageous asset depreciation schemes, relocation assistance for companies, Investment subsidies to buy or convert buildings to house a new business.

Expatriate executives setting-up their operation in Belgium also have substantial tax advantages. Likewise, a company setting up for the first time can benefit from a lifetime ‘holiday’ from social security payments for its first employee.

Brussels ranks consistently in the top 2-5 cities in Europe for the quality and diverse offering of its international education.

Some 30 of Europe’s top international schools are located here; offering GCSE, AP, IB, and ECIS programs in English, bilingual French-English, French, Japanese, German, the Scandinavian languages, Russian and others. The national Belgian school system offers a choice of local and private institutions to foreign students in French and Dutch.

Non-exhaustive list of international schools: expatica.com/be/education/International-school-listings-for-Belgium_100091.html

Office rental costs are well below those of Europe’s other business centers. For personal accommodation, a 100sq meter apartment in most central locations costs €1300/month or lower. Office space in prime locations is as low as €25/sqft.

In Brussels, your company will be within easy reach of the European Institutions, many regional and international, commercial, political and diplomatic representations. Many public affairs consultancies provide the link between the business and European policy communities to help you better understand how the European Institutions function, and to inform and influence decision makers.

Hub.brussels is the Economic development agency of the Brussels-Capital Region and the welcome desk for the foreign investors. Its team “Invest” is fully dedicated to help you assess your needs and make the right choices for setting up your business in the Brussels region. Once you have decided on the approach, you have a choice of many business services, accountants and tax specialists who can help constitute the company, and provide payroll and related support.

The future is close. Brussels is yours.

What does this mean for you?

The future is close. Brussels is yours.