Starting a Business in Belgium
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Why Start A Business In Belgium?
Belgium is a member of the European Union and the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO), which situates it as one of the global leaders in political and economic activity. Per capita, exports are one of the best in the world, and the country has a committed and hard working labour force, making it a vital country in the European trade market.
For those starting a business in Belgium , it is a very open and liberal economy, offering a robust environment for foreign investment. There is no partisanship between domestic and overseas companies, or between branches and subsidiaries, which means that foreign investors have the same legal rights and obligations as domestic entities. The attractive business climate in Belgium is harnessed by particular investment incentives awarded by the many various federal and regional authorities. Consequently, this creates a one of the most amiable business environments in the EU.
What are the essentials to know?
What's the population?
The population of Belgium is 10.84 million
Labour and workforce
It is well known that productivity in Belgium is among the highest in the world. This is partly as a result of a quality education system and high training standards in Belgium. Schooling is compulsory from the age of 6 to 18 in the country.
In Belgium, young people aged between 16 and 18 can gain practical training and learn a profession, alternating between this and their studies in a school or training centre, known as the industrial apprenticeship system. This is an indicator of the focus Belgium has on developing the talents and skills of its young people who will go on to be a part of the labour force that is such a success in Belgium.
The Belgian government introduced a programme in 2004, with the intention of reducing the social security charges employers must pay. It relates to all employees in the private sector and even has an effect on part-time workers.
The employer is required to:
- Register for social security with the National Office for Social Security; (Rijksdienst voor Sociale Zekerheid/Office national de la securite sociale - RSZ/ONSS)
- Register with a family allowances fund within 90 days of the first employee being hired
- Register with a holiday pay fund, only applicable if employing manual labourers and apprentices
- Join an accident prevention and protection at work organisation
- Set up an internal prevention and protection at work department
- Take out insurance against industrial accidents
- Establish a staff register
- Guarantee that every member of personnel joins a mutual health insurance fund and is given a pension number
- An electronic official employment notification should be submitted if staff are employed by, or leave, the company
If you keep data on your employees, you must notify the Commission for the Protection of Privacy (Commissie voor de Bescherming van de persoonlijke levenssfeer/Commission pour la Protection de la vie privee).
Customs and trade
Due to its key central location, Belgium is a hub of activity. Being in the middle of an active EU-market means that business is devoted to trade.
The Common Customs Tariff of the European Union, (a result/ occurring after the completion of the European Internal Market) and now means that goods can circulate freely between the Member States.
Customs duties are not applied to the intra-Community trade, providing the goods concerned contain no components imported from external sources.
The standard VAT rate in Belgium is 21%.
The social security system in Belgium is funded by social contributions on income from work. Employers pay an amount between 30% and 40% on top of your salary into the social security fund.
Those who are self-employed can also claim social security; therefore they pay social security contributions. They may gain more rights if they choose to make additional voluntary contributions.
Additional support systems exist in Belgium, which are government-financed. These are:
- Income support
- Income guarantee for the elderly
- Guaranteed family allowance
- Payments for those with a handicap
- Payments for help to the elderly
These support systems depend on your income.
The public welfare system in Belgium is the Public Centre for Social Assistance (CPAS/OCMW), and everyone who lives in the country is entitled to support from social services.
Spouses of EU nationals
If the head of the family is working in Belgium for an EU or similar institution, the spouse is not required to apply for a work permit or professional card, and they are permitted to work in the country.
No conditions are enforced when the spouse is an EU national and the head of the family isn't. If the spouse has a special identity card, they must give this in to be able to work in Belgium.
Free consultations with trade officers in Brussels
Trade Officers in Brussels are always keen to meet business people visiting the country to offer general advice and discuss available opportunities. Additional support is offered by the British Embassy in Belgium, which can help those companies looking to arrange meetings, exhibitions or other events.
Address of the British Embassy in Belgium
Avenue d'Auderghem 10 Oudergemselaan
Telephone: +32 2 287 62 11+32 2 287 62 11
Organisations that can assist with Starting a Business
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When expanding your business to Belgium, don’t forget to protect your brand. We provide Trademark Registration Services in Belgium and in the entire European Union.
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