Self-employed activities

How foreigners start their self-employed activity

This information is specifically for foreigners who

  • wish to start an independent activity in Belgium
  • do not have the nationality of an EEA Member State or Switzerland

It is important here to make a distinction between your potential set-up situation:

  • working as a self-employed person (self-employed natural person or ‘eenmanszaak’)
  • setting up a company (legal entity or ‘vennootschap’)

Steps to take to start up your business

Decide on your legal business structure

  • sole proprietorship​
  • partnership
  • Legal person or limited company (Besloten Vennootschap met Beperkte Aansprakelijkheid/Société Privée à Responsabilité Limitée; BVBA/SPRL)
  • Co-operative​​​

Think carefully before you choose and keep the principles of your business project in mind. Do not hesitate to seek advice from a notary, lawyer, business advisor, accountant or accountant.

Choose a company name

Choosing a name for your business may seem easy, but it’s still a crucial step: you need to find the ideal name that attracts customers and sets you apart from your competitors.​

Establish the constitution of the company

(only if you choose to start a limited company). The first formality is to establish, in writing, the incorporation of your company. You can find more information on how to proceed here

Registration at the Business Crossroads Bank

Before you can start your activities, you need to register here. They assign a business number to your company. The company number contains 10 digits starting with the number ‘0’.
It is a unique identification number that is required by the company to be used in all contacts with the public authorities (VAT, RSZ, trade register, etc.) and with other companies.

Where to apply:

for natural persons: in the case of a approved enterprise counter of your choice

for legal persons: at the registry of the competent court of commerce

​​Open a current account

You should open a current account with a bank or other financial institution. This applies both to an activity as a natural person or as a company.

On all trading papers of your company (letters, invoices, etc.) you must, except your company number, state your account number, together with the name of your company and that of your bank.​

VAT registration

Before starting your self-employment, you need to check whether you are liable for VAT. If so, you should identify yourself with the General Administration of Taxation. You can find more information about vat here,

That application for identification can be made online.

Social Security fund for the self-employed

As a self-employed person, you must join a social insurance fund for the self-employed You can choose this fund freely. This obligation also applies to the self-employed in secondary occupations. You must pay social contributions to your social insurance fund. Self-employed people pay an average of 22%

How to join and how it works

List of social security funds

Work Permit

Before you start work in Belgium you will need to get a permit sorted. We explain the various options here

Health insurance

Allthough this has nothing to do with setting up your company, you should not forget to address this aspect of your business’ administration​

Insure yourself

An active company may have to deal with events that may harm its results and even its further existence. Consequently, an enterprise (natural person or company) must insure itself against unforeseen setbacks such as illness, fire, industrial accidents, etc.

Not all companies and sectors face the same risks. For more information about insurance, we recommend that you consult your insurance company or your insurance agent.

Customs identification

If you plan to trade with countries outside the EU (also called third countries), you must have an EORI number. That number is based on the company number.

How did you get it?

It is simple, free and not limited in time.

All information can be found on the website of the FPS Finance


register with Limosa if you are coming to work in Belgium either temporarily or part time.

This is for foreigners who​

  • come to work temporarily or part-time in Belgium
  • do not have the nationality of an EEA Member State or Switzerland
  • are self-employed that temporarily become self-employed in Belgium but do not reside there permanently.

Each detachment or assignment must be declared to the Belgian authorities by a Limosa declaration.

more information

apply online for limosa

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