Are you eager to become a freelancer in Belgium? As a freelancer, you can enjoy greater control over many aspects of your life. For example, because you can establish your work hours, you can more easily strike a healthy work-life balance. You can choose your pay rate, decide which clients you want to work for and take other important steps. Ultimately, you can find greater joy and potentially greater profits when you freelance in Belgium. Before you can enjoy all of these incredible benefits, however, you need to know how to work as a freelancer in Belgium. What should you know up front before you open a solo business in Belgium?
Before you open a solo business in Belgium as a freelancer, you understandably need to ensure that you are eligible to do so. While some EU countries have strict requirements related to freelancing, Belgium has very lenient requirements. In fact, anyone who is of working age in this country can freelance. This simple requirement makes freelancing a popular activity in Belgium. In fact, more than 20% of the country’s working adults are freelancers.
However, there are some professions that are regulated. You may need to prove that you have the experience, licensing and other occupation-specific qualifications to work in select fields. You can conveniently search for requirements related to your profession here.
There are a few extra requirements that you must meet if you are a foreigner who is interested in freelancing in this country. For example, foreigners who are from outside the EFTA or EU are required to have a Belgian work permit and a residence visa.
As you continue your research on how to work as a freelancer in Belgium, a look at the registration requirements is in order. First, if you are a foreigner who does not have a residence permit, you must obtain a professional card. This is available through your country’s Belgian embassy. The professional card is available for a small fee. When applying, you will need to provide evidence of your qualifications and information about what type of work you plan to do.
Next, you will need to properly register to freelance in Belgium regardless of your nationality. Through the Federal Public Service website, you can search for existing trade names. You will need to register your trade name officially with the Crossroads Bank for Enterprises. By doing so, you will receive an ID number that will be required for taxation purposes. Finally, you must use your ID number to register to make tax and social security payments as required by law.
As a freelancer in Belgium, you are legally required to keep proper records of income, expenses and invoices for taxation purposes. These records should be maintained for at least seven years. When you file your Belgian income tax return, your tax rate will be dependent on your total income. The tax rate ranges between 25% to 50%.
You will also be required to satisfy your social security requirements. Once you have a Belgian identification number, you can start making quarterly payments to a special fund specifically for freelancers and self-employed individuals. The required fee equals approximately 22% of your income, but it does fluctuate slightly based on actual income. By doing so, you can take advantage of excellent government programs and services. These include the state pension, the national healthcare system, sickness and disability benefits, child benefits and maternity benefits.
Freelancers in Belgium are also required to participate in the EU VAT system. Specifically, you must pay this value-added tax on the income you produce by offering goods and services. Keep in mind that the tax rate is based on the country where the client or customer is located rather than where you are located. If you are serving Belgian customers, you will be responsible for paying up to 21% of the income in VAT. The actual tax rate depends on the types of goods or services that you offer. For example, local transport, pharmaceuticals, food, water and some other related activities are associated with a 6% tax rate.
Be aware, however, that VAT is not required in Belgium if you earn less than 25,000 euros per year. However, you are required to register for VAT when your Belgian-based income reaches 15,000 euros per year. You can register for VAT through any of the VAT administration offices.
Rather than paying individual tax returns for each EU country where you have clients or customers, you may consider registering for the Mini One-Stop-Shop. Through MOSS, you can avoid having to individually register for VAT with each country. You can also file a single tax return to cover all VAT owed. You will be required to register for VAT through the MOSS program if your income reaches 10,000 euros.
Based on Belgium’s tax law, you are required to provide invoices for all of your sales as a freelancer. You may be asked to provide copies of your invoices in some instances, so you are required to keep records of the invoices for seven years. You also should have banking records and invoices that corroborate the full amount of income that you claim on your tax returns.
There are no formal requirements for the structure of invoices. However, a typical invoice will include your trade name, the client’s name and address, the VAT rate and the amount of VAT paid. The total amount charged to the customer, a description of the product or service purchased and the number of units purchased should also be on the invoice. Finally, the invoice should have a sales date and a unique invoice number. Generating individual invoices can take time and increase your administrative requirements.
When you freelance in Belgium, you are required to keep your business and personal financial records separate. As part of this important requirement, you must open a separate business bank account. Each transaction that runs through your business bank account must be properly accounted for in your records. In addition, you must track outstanding invoices in your accounts receivable records. By taking these important steps, you can confidently be aware of your financial situation at any given time. This will help you to make well-informed business decisions as a freelancer. More than that, it will help you to file an accurate tax return at the end of each year.
Managing your finances properly can be a tedious challenge that consumes a considerable portion of your time each day. By finding a simplified solution for managing your finances, you will have more time to focus on your regular business activities and on serving your clients’ needs.
When you freelance in Belgium, you will be responsible for generating clients and producing sales. There are many ways for you to market your business. Because many consumers are increasingly using the internet to make buying decisions, it makes sense to have a strong online presence. This includes having an SEO-based website and robust social media accounts. You should also consider other digital marketing options, including the use of Google Ads, pay-per-click ads, backlinks and more.
While digital marketing may play a strong role in many freelancers’ marketing plans, you should also consider other important ways to connect with your target audience. For example, some freelancers may get a great response from mailing postcards or handing out brochures. Others may find that radio or TV advertising is effective for them. With so many options available, it is important to consider where you are most likely to reach your target audience and what messages may appeal to them.
You can see that there are many steps required to open a solo business in Belgium. In summary, these are the essential steps that you should walk through:
Do you plan to do business as a freelancer in Belgium from another EU country? Xolo Leap has exceptional features available across three plans. These features are specifically designed to simplify all aspects of starting and running a remote business in Belgium. With e-Residency, Xolo Leap will help you register and set up your Estonian business which you can manage from anywhere with full compliance.
Freelancing in Belgium can have life-changing ramifications. Now that you have decided to be a freelancer and you know how to work as a freelancer in Belgium, you may be ready to get serious about launching your business. Through Xolo Leap, you can sail through the setup process and start operating your business with minimal time and effort required. Set up your own business today!