If you are thinking about starting a business or moving your current operation to Belgium, you may want to consider establishing your own entity. This will allow you to operate in the country legally and afford your business certain rights and responsibilities. Selecting the most appropriate entity ensures that you remain compliant and that your business needs are met. However, selecting the right entity can often be a difficult choice. Below we explore the business environment in Belgium, as well as the different entities available for company incorporation.
Found at the intersection of Europe’s biggest markets, Belgium is the doorway to the European Union’s millions of customers. French, Dutch, and German are the country’s official languages. As such, one is exposed to a vast and multicultural group of people. On the other hand, English is accepted in many parts for business purposes.
The country is also renowned for its beautiful landscape, medieval architecture, and rich history. With great healthcare, education, and public spaces, Belgium is a popular place for expatriates who wish to work and start a business in the region.
Doing Business in Belgium
Belgium is a prime spot for companies to reach the European market because of its welcoming economy, multilingual and well-educated workforce, well-established infrastructure, and relative ease to start a business.
The top industries are transportation services, manufacturing, technology, and exports, which make up 80% of the country’s gross domestic product. Even better for foreigners is that the Belgian government embraces global trade and outside investment. As a result, this comes with tax and other incentives to encourage foreign investment. It is all because Belgium encourages free-market competition.
On the other hand, navigating Belgium’s local laws, rules, and regulations can be a challenge. For those looking to do business in Belgium, the key is to work with the right partner with extensive knowledge of the local laws and regulations to avoid any bumps in the road towards success in the region.
Business Entities in Belgium
General Partnership (Vennootschap onder firma or VOF)
To establish a general partnership, there must be at least two partners. General partners direct and manage the company, and every partner has unlimited liability. There is no restriction to how the organization is formed as long as the two partners are liable, and there is no limit to the shares that can be transferred. Decisions must be made either unanimously or if agreed upon, based on the majority. It is suited for those with liberal professions.
Limited Partnerships (Commanditaire vennootschap or CommV)
What sets a limited partnership apart is that partners are only liable for the amount of capital they contributed. There are two types of partners: managing partners and limited partners. The managing partners are involved in the day-to-day of the business, while the limited partners are essentially financial backers and silent partners. The name of the company should have the name of one or more of the managing partners.
It is the best choice for those who do not have enough capital to start their own business and want to work with a team of other businessmen as there is no minimum amount required to start a limited partnership.
Public Limited Company (Naamloze vennootschap or NV)
A public limited company (PLC) must be set up by a minimum of two people who have to contribute capital in return for shares of the company. The minimum capital required is Euro 61,500. PLCs need to have a minimum of three directors who represent the business publicly. Liability of partners is limited to their contribution.
Shares of stakeholders are transferable between partners and shareholders. This type of company is suited for large businesses.
One-person Private Limited Company (Besloten vennootschap or BV)
This business entity can be formed by one shareholder. The company’s shareholder must be an individual, not a legal entity. A one-person private limited company is best for a family business or a small- or medium-sized enterprise (SME).
Cooperative Society (Coöperatieve vennootschap or CV)
A cooperative with limited liability must have at least three shareholders who can be private individuals or a legal entity. Each shareholder must contribute a fixed amount of capital and are only liable for the amount they contribute.
Meanwhile, a cooperative with unlimited liability works in the same way except that each shareholder has unlimited liability for the company’s debts.
INS Global in Belgium
If you are considering starting a business in Belgium, having the right partner to guide you through all the administrative processes could reduce the burden on your enterprise and enable you to focus on your operations. INS Global has helped more than 600 businesses worldwide to setup in a new country, fast and easily. Check out our other services, which include PEO, recruitment, and payroll administration. Our goal is to simplify your global expansion. Contact us today and let our consultants help you.