At the heart of the European Union, Belgium has capitalised on its central geographic location, highly developed transport network, and diversified industrial and commercial base. Belgium is one of most prosperous countries in the EU, with a GDP of 396,8 euros in 2016. Even if incorporation process may be relatively straightforward, although Company Directors are required to be educated to at least degree or diploma in their relevant field.

What are the most common types of company in Belgium?

  • company limited by shares (S.A./N.V.)
  • private limited liability company (S.P.R.L./B.V.B.A.)
  • Foreign companies seeking to incorporate in Belgium may operate either through a subsidiary (incorporated under Belgian law) or as a branch (incorporated under the law of the country where the parent is based).

Main features of a S.P.R.L./B.V.B.A.

The legislation applicable in Belgium specifies that the minimum share capital for the private limited company is of EUR 18,550 and 20% of this sum should be paid up during the incorporation procedure. However, if the company will have only one shareholder, the minimum share capital is set up at EUR 12,400.

  • the company has to have at least one shareholder
  • this form of company admits only one director
  • shareholders are responsible only for the assets they brought into the business

Recruitment environment

Belgium has a very good recruitment sectors, including clerical and secretarial workforce. Labour costs are high and generous welfare benefits are matched by high national insurance contributions for both employers and employees. In Dutch-speaking Flanders, the most prosperous region of Belgium, there is strong demand for skilled workers, particularly in IT and other technical fields. In contrast, there is an unemployment problem in French-speaking Wallonia, notably for unskilled workers.

Regulatory environment

Belgium guarantees the freedom to set up a company and transfer capital to all foreign companies and to any foreign investor who wishes to settle in Belgium in order to start a commercial or industrial operation.

  • no prior authorization needed except for certain types of business such as banking, insurance and transport
  • foreign capital may be brought into the country without restriction
  • no preliminary authorization required for takeovers or joint ventures
  • variety of tax breaks, including one which allows a multinational company to provide financial and managerial services virtually tax-free

Government incentives:

Financial incentives are available but vary widely according to location:

  • Flanders offers financial aid to SMEs starting up in established industrial zones or in industrial development zones; funding is also available to larger companies; extra incentives are in place for biotech companies and for businesses involving environmental controls
  • Wallonia offers help with the purchase of land, buildings, equipment and project-related investment costs; aid is also available for investment in areas such as product development, licensing and market research
  • Brussels may provide investment grants, initial exemption from withholding taxes in certain cases, interest free loans for industrial research, grants for employment of some categories of job-seekers and aid for technical and language training

Filing requirements:

Annual financial statements must be prepared and filed with the authorities within seven months of the end of the accounting period. These must also be presented at the annual general meeting for approval. Companies considered ‘small’ may prepare simplified financial statements and are not required to appoint an auditor. Annual returns must be filed with the Belgian Authorities.

Please contact us and we will be pleased to discuss matters in greater detail.