Setting up a company in Belgium? Here is what information you need

Heart of the European market, Belgium is the most strategically located country on the continent. It is home to many institutions of the European Union, NATO, and accommodates several multinational company headquarters. Having only 10 million inhabitants, Belgium is relatively small as opposed to its European neighbors. Nevertheless, it is this particular size what makes it an ideal market for any entrepreneur looking to drive their business forward. Opening a new company is a pretty simple process. If you have ever wondered how to establish a foreign company, please continue reading. 

Have a good understanding of the requirements for starting a new business

The European Union urges countries to meet certain targets for helping to start new businesses. Examples include but are not limited to:

  • Establishing a new company in a maximum of 3 working days
  • Costing less than €100
  • Finalizing all the procedures through one administrative body
  • Completing registration formalities on the Internet

Before you can start doing business in Belgium, the law requires you to comply with certain requirements. These requirements include:

  • To be legally old enough
  • To have Belgian nationality
  • To have full civil rights
  • To have the necessary permits
  • To be able to provide proof of your entrepreneurial skills
  • To have legal capacity

If you do not have Belgian nationality and you are not a resident of a Member State of the European Union, you must obtain a business card. Foreign nationals are required to hold a professional card if they want to exercise their profession. The application is submitted through the Guichet d’Entreprise or Ondernemingsloket. Within five days, the application will be examined for compliance with formal requirements. After obtaining the business card, you can apply for a visa.

Find out which legal structure for business is the best fit

When an entrepreneur decides to establish their business in Belgium, the first issue that arises is the choice of the legal status of the business entity. There are many different types of companies and these are outlined in what follows.

1.      Société Anonyme (SA)

The Société Anonyme (SA) is a company that has at least two shareholders, who are willing to invest. This kind of corporation deploys civil law. A rough translation would be anonymous company. The Société Anonyme is the equivalent of the public limited company. The SA brings about advantages such as limited liability, orientation towards corporate finance, separate ownership of assets, and free transfer of shares. It is not necessary to make the shareholders public.

2.      Société privée à responsabilité limitée (SPRL)

 A Belgium private limited company can be set up with only one shareholder and one director. They can be foreigners and do not have to have Belgian citizenship. On the off chance that the company is sued, the claimants are suing the company, and not you. Any debts or earnings made will be separated from the business. The société privée à responsabilité limitée focuses on the personality of the shareholders. This means that the goal is to increase shareholder value, while at the same time focusing on the long-term success of the company.

Selecting the right type of business entity can turn out to be a challenge. Take your time before making a decision.

Business culture in Belgium and its importance

In Belgium, business culture is characterized by common sense and the egalitarian approach. Individuals pay attention to the realism that life brings their path. Most importantly, employees have equal rights no matter their race, job status, race or political leanings. Attitudes and values reflect the way people think and behave. Becoming aware of the business culture in Belgium can, therefore, help you communicate with your peers. More often than not, company culture is implied, so it is not clearly defined. It can develop with time thanks to the traits of the people the company hires.

According to the experts at Miltek, The Belgian government encourages local and foreign businesses to adhere to the corporate social responsibility principles. More specifically, they have to integrate social and environmental concerns into company operations. Attitudes towards these issues have changed a lot in the past few years. Belgian companies have demonstrated expertise when it comes to waste management solutions. Companies like Umicore, Group Machiels, and Indaver are leaders in terms of processing waste streams. Make sure that you are responsive to energy saving.

What are the steps to creating a company?

If your intention is to set up a company in Belgium, some steps need to be completed:

  • Write a corporate resolution – The corporate resolution refers to the actions and decisions made by the organization’s board of directors. Name, via the decision of the board, someone to represent you and act on the behalf of the company. This person will be accountable for all activities, including transactions with third-parties.
  • Legalize and translate official documents – If you would like to submit original documents that are not in French, Dutch, or German, you must provide officially certified translations in addition to the original. The company formation process does require legalization. Make sure to translate and legalize financial reports.
  • Register at the Chamber of Commerce – You have to register the official documents at the Chamber of Commerce of the judiciary area where you plan on setting up your company. You will receive a company number, a VAT number, and affiliation to a payroll agency.

Final thoughts

There is no place like Belgium to start a new business. The company formation process is not at all complicated if you are prepared. It calls for mandatory procedures, but you are not likely to encounter challenges along the way. Setting up a company takes about a month, assuming you have put together the necessary documentation. Become aware of the costs involved. Besides translating documents and paying for notarizations, there is the Chamber of Commerce registration fee. If you would like more details on the process, find a comprehensive guide that was issued by the Belgian government. If entrepreneurship is for you, you are lucky because there are many opportunities in Belgium.

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