Working as an independent contractor is the most commonly used setup for remote workers. In Belgium, when a person doesn't have an employment contract, they can be considered an independent contractor.
However, there are a few steps to be followed to ensure compliance with Belgian laws and regulations. This article aims to guide you through the process of becoming an indépendant (independent contractor) in Belgium.
Please bear in mind that this article doesn't substitute legal advice. Information in this article was collected from Belgian government websites and other online resources.
What conditions do you have to meet to be an independent contractor in Belgium?
To become an independent contractor in Belgium, you need to meet certain conditions:
- be 18+ year old
- not be stripped of your political and civil rights by a judge
- not be subject to a judicial review nor be declared legally incapable (i.e., irresponsible because of a mental disorder)
- not be banned from carrying on a business
- depending on your profession, you may need a license or a permit issued by the state of Belgium to work as an independent contractor
- make sure that you have basic management skills (see below)
How to get a basic management certification?
To work as an independent contractor, you need a basic management certification which you can get passing an online exam. Training courses are offered in public institutions (enseignement de promotion sociale) and in other centers (EFP and IFAPME). The exam is organized by the Central Recruitment and consists of a set of multiple-choice questions you have to answer.
Exemption from this exam is given to applicants with:
- a Bachelor, Master degree, or any other officially equivalent diploma; applicants with a CESS (Certificat de l'Enseignement Secondaire Supérieur)
- any certification obtained after qualification of secondary-level studies, after six years as an accounting technician or a commercial technician, or after seven years as a manager of small business firms
- experience in companies over the past 15 years
This certification is necessary to be allowed to work as an independent contractor in Belgium.
How to become an independent contractor in Belgium?
Obtaining an independent contractor status in Belgium is fairly easy and takes a few steps.
- Step 1: Choose between société (a company) and entreprise individuelle (an individual firm). The individual firm allows you to separate your business and personal assets and to limit your liability in case of bankruptcy.
- Step 2: Go to any of Guichet d'entreprises to register your company to the Banque-Carrefour des Entreprises. You will have to bring:
- your basic management certification
- your certification of professional competency if you have a regulated profession (such as a lawyer, a doctor or an architect)
- your professional licensee and your professional card if need one (see above).
- Step 3: The Guichet d'entreprises will then take these documents and validate them before registering your company to the Banque-Carrefour des Entreprises and giving you the business and establishment numbers.
Request a VAT identification number
All independent contractors must get a VAT registration to work in compliance with Belgian laws and regulations.
Here's how to get a VAT identification number:
- Go to a local office to check if you need to get a VAT registration: some activities are exempt from it. For more information, you can read the Article 44 of the Belgian VAT Code for more information.
- Choose the relevant VAT scheme. You can choose between a standard, global payment (if your turnover exceeds €750,000) or tax exemption (if your turnover stays below €5,580).
- Register before the beginning of your activity in a Guichet d'entreprises to get the Form 604A.
- Fill out Form 604A and send it to the relevant Belgian VAT Control office.
- To know where the relevant Belgian VAT Control office for you is located, you can go to a VAT Control office in your company's area and ask them.
- If you wish, you may also get paid assistance from the Guichet d'entreprises to help you during the VAT registration process. Prices vary from Guichet to Guichet.
If you have any intention to work with non-UE countries, you need an EORI (Economic Operator Registration and Identification) number. To get it, you must go to any customs office.
Affiliation with a social insurance company
Affiliation with a social insurance company must be done before the beginning of your activity as an independent contractor. If you forget to do it, the INASTI (Institut National d'Assurances Sociales pour Travailleurs Indépendants) will ask for a regularization. If you persist, you will be automatically affiliated to the Caisse Nationale Auxiliaire pour Travailleurs Indépendants. This affiliation is crucial as it will allow you to pay your legally required social contributions as an independent contractor.
Eventually, you'll have to be affiliated to a mutual health-insurance, which requires a certificate of membership from your social insurance fund, to prove that you paid social contributions. Depending on your activity, you may also subscribe to other insurances.
Open a designated bank account
You must have a bank account dedicated to your company's activity. This bank account's number must appear on every commercial document you produce.