April 2, 2024

3 mins

Guide to Setting Up as an Independent Contractor in Belgium

Belgium, with its rich cultural heritage, vibrant cities like Brussels and Antwerp, and a strategic position in Europe, offers a fertile ground for independent contractors. The country's economy is diverse and well-connected, making it an attractive destination for freelancers and entrepreneurs across various sectors. Independent contractors in Belgium benefit from a structured legal framework, providing clarity on registration, taxation, and social security. In Belgium, individuals without an employment contract may be classified as independent contractors.

Basic Management Knowledge

To operate as an independent contractor, obtaining a fundamental management certification through an online exam may be necessary. The requirement for this certification, known as the "basic knowledge of business management," has historically been necessary for a range of professions, particularly for those wanting to start a small or medium-sized enterprise (SME) or engage in certain trades. This certification aims to ensure that independent contractors possess a fundamental understanding of business operations, accounting, and the legal aspects of running a business.

However, the regulations can vary depending on the region of Belgium (Flanders, Wallonia, or Brussels-Capital) and have been subject to change. For example, Flanders abolished the requirement for the basic management knowledge certificate for most professions as of September 1, 2018.

Legal Structure and Registration

The first step in establishing yourself as an independent contractor in Belgium is deciding on your legal structure. Most freelancers opt for a 'sole proprietorship' due to its simplicity and ease of setup. However, establishing a company (e.g., a private limited company, or BV) might be beneficial for those expecting higher revenues or wanting to separate personal and business liabilities.

To register, you'll need to visit the Crossroads Bank for Enterprises (CBE) and register your activity. This process will provide you with a business number, essential for all your professional activities. It's advisable to consult with a business advisor or accountant to ensure you're making the most appropriate choice for your situation.

Register for VAT

When starting your business, it's crucial to ascertain whether the products or services you're offering fall under the scope of VAT (Value Added Tax, also known as TVA in French or BTW in Dutch) in Belgium. If they do, you're required to secure a VAT number, enabling you to add VAT to your clients' invoices and obligating you to file VAT returns. The standard VAT rate in Belgium is set at 21%, but there are reduced rates of 12% and 6% for specific goods and services, with some being completely VAT-exempt. 

If your business's annual turnover is below €25,000, you are exempt from charging or paying VAT. It's also noteworthy that VAT regulations differ for client transactions outside of Belgium.

Social Security and Insurance

As an independent contractor in Belgium, you're required to affiliate with a social insurance fund within 90 days of starting your activity. This affiliation will cover your social security contributions, which provide you with a basic level of pension, health insurance, and disability coverage. The exact amount of these contributions is calculated based on your income.

Additionally, it's highly recommended to consider supplementary insurance. Professional liability insurance, for instance, can protect you in the event of claims made against you for professional errors or omissions. Health and disability insurance can also provide more comprehensive coverage than basic state-provided protection.


Understanding and managing your taxes is a crucial aspect of working as an independent contractor in Belgium. You'll be subject to personal income tax on your earnings, which is progressive and ranges from 25% to 50%. Keeping meticulous records of your income and expenses is vital, as business-related expenses can be deducted from your taxable income.

Accounting and Administration

Efficient administration and accounting are the backbones of a successful independent contractor. While you can manage your accounts independently, hiring an accountant can save you a significant amount of time and ensure you're complying with all legal requirements. They can also provide valuable advice on tax optimization and financial planning.

Please consult official sources or seek legal advice before making any decisions or taking action.

Note: This article does not replace professional legal or tax guidance. Always consult official sources or seek the advice of a legal or tax professional before taking any action.


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