Own business requirements
Good news: in principle anyone in Belgium is allowed to start their own business. However, in the different regions there are a number of legal conditions or restrictions to comply with before you can start as a self-employed person.
Usually, this is to ensure maximum success of your business and to protect future customers.
These requirements are in three parts:
Legal conditions for starting up
Do you want to start as a self-employed entrepreneur? You can do that provided you meet the following legal starting conditions.
According to these, you must:
- Be of age (minimum eighteen years old), and legally competent.
- Be either Belgian or from a Member State of the European Economic Area (EEA).
- Your entrepreneurial skills can be evidenced by a degree in business management or practical experience (not applicable to helpers or assisting spouses).
Note: since 01/09/2018, this is no longer mandatory in Flanders. However, it still is in Brussels and Wallonia.
You must also enjoy your civil rights. This means that you have never been convicted of fraud or bankruptcy due to serious error.
And, for a number of professions, you must also have the necessary mandatory licenses or evidence of professional knowledge.
Expert knowledge when becoming self-employed
Every entrepreneur engaged in a commercial activity must be competent. The reason is simple: it increases the chances of success and prevents problems later on.
However, some professions and sectors require specific professional skills. The main sectors are:
- Construction sector
- Personal Care
- Restaurateurs, horeca and caterers
- Bicycles and motor vehicles
You can prove your expert knowledge by way of:
- A diploma (or certificate, accreditation, attestation ...)
- Practical experience
Would you like to check whether you have the necessary expert knowledge?
Proving entrepreneurial skills
Are you starting a business in Brussels or Wallonia? Then you must first prove your entrepreneurial skills. You must be able to prove that you have a basic knowledge of business management and that you are perfectly suited for entrepreneurship.
How do you do that? By way of the following:
Diploma or certificate
A diploma issued by a recognised educational establishment or an equivalent certificate issued by the central board of examiners of one of the regions.
You can also demonstrate your entrepreneurial skills by way of practical experience. For example, as:
- Self-employed entrepreneur with an own trade register number/entrepreneurial number
- Mandatary or working partner in a company
- Self-employed helper
- Assisting spouse
- Salaried employee in a company with a regulated professional activity
How much experience you need to be able to demonstrate depends on the profession. Your practical experience must date from no more than 15 years before you register. For some professions, the maximum is 10 years.
To find out more, contact your nearest Securex business counter.
How can you prove basic knowledge of business management?
How you prove your entrepreneurial skills depends on your company form.
I’m setting up a sole proprietorship
The following persons are eligible:
- You, as head of the business
- Your legally cohabiting partner or spouse
- An independent helper who is your relative by blood or marriage up to the third degree
I’m setting up a company
- In the case of partnerships (e.g. BV, VOF...), only the manager must demonstrate entrepreneurial skills.
- Are you setting up a company with capital (NV, CVOA ...)? In that case, proof is required for the managing director or the manager responsible for day-to-day management.
In some situations, you are exempted from the obligation to prove your entrepreneurial skills. For example, you benefit from a (temporary) exemption when you:
- Take over an existing business. In that case, you will be entitled to a one-year exemption.
- Continue the business of your spouse or legal cohabitant.
- Continue the business of your deceased parents. In that case, you are entitled to a 3-year exemption.
- Start up in an intellectual profession or a self-employed profession already regulated by another law (e.g. real estate broker, insurance broker, surveyor, etc.).
- Carry out an activity as a home-based salesperson. Under certain conditions, you also benefit from an exemption.
Do you have any questions?
Start being self-employed and realise your dream
Depending on which self-employed activity you want to carry out, you can start out more or less quickly. However, in principle everyone in Belgium is allowed to start their own business.
If expert knowledge or entrepreneurial skills are required, this is mainly to ensure maximum success of your business and to protect future customers. Hiring an accountant, for example, also increases the chances of your business being successful.