A sole trader in Belgium is a natural person who operates his or her own business. Self-employed persons in Belgium are not bound to an employer and they exercise a professional activity for which they are remunerated.
There are many types of independent activities in Belgium and there are two main types of individuals who can be considered self-employed:
-natural persons: there is no major distinction between the individual’s personal assets and the business assets; the individual is fully liable to cover the business risk;
-legal persons: the rights and obligations are distinct from those of the associates.
Types of independent activities in Belgium and eligibility criteria
Certain business sectors are available for self-employed persons who want to exercise a professional activity in Belgium. These types of professional, full-time or part-time activities in Belgium include:
The minimum legal age for being a sole trader in Belgium is usually 18 years old. Exceptions apply for craftspeople, who can work starting at the minimum age of 16, provided that their parents or legal guardians give their approval.
Restrictions apply to persons who have been declared bankrupt or have been sentenced for dishonest bankruptcy and to individuals in probation or who are legally ineligible for these activities (after a criminal sentence has been declared against them). The categories of individuals listed above cannot perform any kind of commercial activities as self-employed individuals.
Ourlawyers in Belgium can provide more information about the eligibility criteria for natural persons and self-employed individuals in Belgium.
Steps for setting up a sole trader in Belgium
The first step when deciding to work as a self-employed individual in Belgium is to open a new bank account, separate from the personal account. Afterwards, the individual must register at the Belgian one-stop-shop for businesses. At this stage, the self-employed individual must provide specific documents that prove his or her professional and and/or management skills.
After this registration, the sole trader must register at the Belgian Central Enterprise Databank. Certain independent activities in Belgium are liable to the applicable VAT rate and self-employed persons must obtain an enterprise number. Self-employed individuals in Belgium must join a social insurance fund and self-manage their social security contributions.
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