A quick-start of doing Business in Belgium is easy. With the Crossroads Bank for Enterprises (CBE), an Enterprise Number and assistance of an Enterprise Counter also foreign companies can easily start-up business in Belgium. The Belgian government is facilitating the way a starter has to go in the administrative jungle of setting-up a business in Belgium.
Already in 1993, it was decided that it should be easy to start a business in Belgium. In the past, a starter had to contact various authorities. Official documents had to be requested in the correct order. Often one had to be physically present to put a signature in the right place. And one had to be especially patient, because some institutions needed time to process everything. There was not a unique Enterprise Number and every institution was using their own affiliation number. The whole administrative procedure is now streamlined.
Crossroads Bank for Enterprises (CBE)
The basic of the simplification is the Enterprise Number attributed by the Crossroads Bank for Enterprises or abbreviated CBE. In the official native languages this sounds in Dutch “Kruispuntbank van ondernemingen” or KBO, in French “Banque-Carrefour des Entreprises” or BCE and in German “Zentrale Datenbank der Unternehmen” or ZDU.
The Crossroads Bank for Enterprises (CBE) is a database owned by the Belgian Federal Public Service Economy containing all the basic data concerning companies and their business units. The purpose of the Crossroads Bank for Enterprises (CBE) is increasing the efficiency of public services and simplifying administrative procedures for companies. The reference number is the company’s Enterprise Number.
What is an Enterprise Number
An Enterprise Number is a company registration number. It is a unique identification number to exchange information between businesses and the public authorities. The number is attributed by the Crossroads Bank for Enterprises (CBE).
Consult public data: Public Search
With Public Search, everybody can consult on the internet the public data stored in the Crossroads Bank for Enterprises. Public Search allows you to consult the public data for each (registered) entity and establishment unit registered in the CBE.
Correct your data: My Enterprise
My Enterprise is a secure application that can be accessed from a computer, tablet or smartphone to correct your personal enterprise data. You can use one of the following options to log in:
- electronic identity card with (wireless) card reader;
- token; or
- mobile app.
An Enterprise Counter (sometimes called business counter), like Eunomia is a one-stop shop business service for start-ups and existing companies to complete all kinds of administrative formalities.
- If you are starting a sole proprietorship, you must first contact an Enterprise Counter. They will arrange the Enterprise Number and register all data into the Crossroads Bank for Enterprises.
- For a company, the first step is in most cases the notary, followed by the filing of the articles of association with the registry of the company court. In order to complete your registration in the Crossroads Bank for Enterprises (CBE), then you have to go to an Enterprise Counter.
How to start Business in Belgium as a Foreigner
Employer without Establishment in Belgium
It is not required to have a Belgian entity if you want to hire employees in Belgium. An employer without establishment in Belgium has to contact an international oriented payroll provider like Pro-Pay. They are specialized in serving international employers, and will affiliate the foreign company towards the National Social Security Office and some institutions. Pro-Pay will take care that that the company is registered with the Crossroads Bank for Enterprises (CBE).
Please note that you have to be certain that the activities of your employee in Belgium does not create a permanent establishment by nature of the employee’s activities. It is recommended to contact a tax consultant to find out.
Branch in Belgium
A foreign company can also open a branch in Belgium. Although the branch remains subject to the law in the country of origin, it will be represented by an agent in Belgium with a permanent address.
The deed of incorporation and any amendment of the articles of association must be filed with the Commercial Court in one of the native Belgian languages. Finally this company must also prove its entrepreneurial skills and register with the Crossroads Bank for Enterprises. When this has been arranged, you can contact a payroll provider to comply with employment regulations.
Legal Entity in Belgium
Third possibility is to set-up a legal in entity in Belgium. You can start business in Belgium as a company or as a self-employed person.
The company will be subject to the Belgian law and must have a legal status in according to the Belgian law. Companies in which the partners have limited liability must be established by means of an authentic or notarial deed and filed with the Commercial Court to obtain an Enterprise Number. Once the articles of association have been published, the company must register with the Crossroads Bank for Enterprises (CBE) and demonstrate its entrepreneurial skills at an Enterprise Counter like Eunomia.
Don’t forget that it is mandatory to affiliate the company within 3 months after the creation to a Social Insurance Fund. A Social Insurance Fund like Avixi can assist you.
As a self-employed person, you need to apply for an Enterprise Number at an Enterprise Counter. An Enterprise Counter like Eunomia will discuss the planned activities of your business and examine if you are in possession of the necessary entrepreneurial skills (basic business management knowledge and in certain activities the professional knowledge). Enterprise Counter Eunomia will check whether there is a need for certain preliminary permits and take care of the necessary applications.
In case you do not have the Belgian nationality, the nationality of one of the member states within the European Economic Area (the EU countries, Iceland, Norway and Liechtenstein) nor the Swiss nationality you have to apply for a professional card. Eunomia Enterprise Counter will gladly help you.