It is estimated that close to 20% of the working population in Belgium are self-employed and that an increasing number of these are non-Belgium. Freelancing certainly does have its advantages such as the freedom of working for yourself and access to more opportunities for work. It can also be a way to earn extra money on the side even if you have a permanent job. Belgium is certainly an ideal option being central in Europe and easily accessible from a number of countries.
If you are thinking of becoming a freelancer you will firstly need to check that you are eligible. If you are an EU or Swiss citizen this is very easy as you need to be over eighteen or sixteen in certain circumstances where you are qualified in a craft. If you are not an EU or Swiss citizen then it is more difficult as you will need to apply for a Professional Card. Like many countries the more you can demonstrate that you have skills and/or experience the better.
Whereas it is possible to start a business in Belgium such as a limited company, this however will mean you are classed as an employee. Registering a company is an attractive option in Belgium as it holds the rank of 16th in the word for opening a company in the ease of doing business index. Alternatively you can register as a Freelancer and be self-employed, this involves:-
Choosing a trading name which is usually, but not necessarily your own name.
You will also need to register for trading and you will receive a unique company or ID number that can also be used as a tax and social security number.
You will than need to register with an approved Belgium Social Security Fund, it is best to do this at the same time, if not then certainly within ninety days to avoid ending up automatically registered with the Belgium ‘NISSE’. Please see our section on Social Security for more information.
You will also certainly require health insurance, although if you have already applied for residency you may have already obtained this.
Whilst Belgium is an advantageous choice in many respects when choosing to freelance abroad, it is not when it comes to accounting and taxes ranking 59th for ease of paying taxes. Therefore it is very important to keep detailed accounting records and have a local professional accountant to assist you. This is where Chesterfield is in an ideal position to help.