The freelance industry is rapidly expanding at a historic rate. The lifestyle advantages, freedom, and general lucrativeness that come with being an independent professional are undeniable. Therefore, more and more people are adopting the freelance lifestyle – especially in Belgium.
Because of this paradigm shift, you’ll find many people wondering what it takes to become an independent professional in Belgium: What documents do you need? What procedures do you need to go through?
Well, we are here to help. This article outlines the 8 easy steps to becoming a freelancer in Belgium. Read on to find out how to start your freelancer journey!
Step 1: Make Sure You’re Eligible
First thing’s first – you need to be eligible to work as a freelancer.
Being eligible to become a freelancer in Europe isn’t a very difficult thing to do. The entry requirements are simple and generally easy to abide to:
You need to be over 18 years old (or 16 years old if you are a craftsman).
You need to be an EU or Swiss citizen.
If you are not an EU/Swiss citizen, you need to apply for a Professional Card.
For certain sectors, you’ll be required to demonstrate that you possess certain skills and/or knowledge (through diplomas and/or certifications).
Step 2: Self-Employment and Legal Entity Structure
Once you’ve established that you’re eligible, it’s time to start thinking about the structural specifics of your soon-to-be freelancing company.
As a freelancer, you are technically self-employed. In basic legal terms, you are essentially a self-employed independent professional that conducts some sort of professional activity without being bound to an employer. Easy right?
Now that we got the legal definition out of the way, we can get into the specifics. There are several types of “self-employment legal entity structures” present within Belgium. Your next task is to choose the one that best fits your freelance business. Below we’ve listed the three most common legal entity structures in Belgium:
Sole-Proprietorship or Natural Person - ”Entreprise Individuelle/Eenmanswaak”
Within a sole-proprietorship, you are your company’s founder, owner, and operating officer so therefore you are personally liable for anything pertaining to your company.
Limited Liability Company or Legal Person – “BBVA/SPRL”
Under a limited liability company, the company itself holds its own financial capital and is therefore a completely separate legal entity from that of its founder(s) and/or shareholders. Therefore, owners and partners have limited liability for anything pertaining to the company.
Partnership or Cooperative – ”Société de Personnes or Personenvennootschap”
To start a partnership, you will need to partner together with other independent professionals to form a single legal entity. Within a partnership, every partner is individually liable for their own financial burdens and actions.
Step 3: Get Registered
Once you’ve decided what legal structure you’d like to base your company off of, you’ll need to make a trip to your local notary, Banque-Carrefour des Entreprises, or financial expert to get your company registered.
Once all required documents are submitted to and approved by the commercial court, you will receive an enterprise number. This enterprise number will be instrumental to all transactions involving your newly-founded company.
Step 4: Open a Bank Account
So, you’re all set-up and registered, now what?
Your next step would be to open a bank account that is exclusive to your new freelancing business. This is essentially to keep your personal finances separate from your business finances (for organizational and tax-related reasons). In the case that you opted to go with a Limited Liability Company structure, your company will have a completely separate financial structure from your own.
Step 5: Register With an Approved Belgian Social Security Fund
In order to pay contributions towards pensions, family benefits, maternity, and unemployment, freelancers are required to pay contributions to an approved social security fund.
You’ll have 90 days from the inception of your business to register for a social security fund or else the Belgian “NISSE” will contact you and automatically register you for their fund.
Step 6: Get Health Insurance
To work as a freelancer in Belgium, health insurance is an absolute requirement.
You’ll need to sign up for health insurance and maintain your regular contribution payments to keep your health insurance plan active. This has been implemented to cover any needed medical treatment or incapacity from work.
So, although it may come off as an unneeded additional financial burden, it’s ultimately for your own good.
Step 7: Find an Accountant or Financial Expert
The financial management burden that comes with being an independent professional in Belgium is significant.
There’s a whole lot to keep track of when working as a freelancer. This is especially intimidating when you take into account that one tax slip-up could cause pretty major problems for your business. The solution to this is simple. You’ve got to find a local accountant or financial manager to assist you in managing your finances and with taxation management.
That way, you can just focus on your freelancing – nothing else. You’ll be able to sleep well knowing that all the grunt-work has already been taken care of.
Step 8: Find Your Ideal Mission.
So, you’ve established that you’re eligible, selected a legal structure, registered your freelancing company, opened a company bank account, registered for social security, signed up for health insurance, and hired an accountant. Congrats! You should be ready to get started freelancing in Belgium.
Now all you have to do is start finding missions. This can be done via old-school networking, online postings, or recruitment agencies. Now although each of these methods can technically get the job done, they are each jam packed with inconveniences (which I have outlined in a different article).
Luckily however, technology has taken a step up to streamline the freelancing process and get rid of these inconveniences.
An example of this is hireme.io. Now, hireme.io allows freelancers to connect directly with a wide array of clients by bidding on missions within a fully recruiter-free environment. Hireme.io also boasts full administrative task automation and pay advancement – and the best part is that it’s 100% free to use.
All-in-all, platforms such as hireme.io are great utilities to help further simplify the freelancing process.
In an ever-expanding freelance market, the possibilities as a freelancer are endless.
The lifestyle advantages, general lucrativeness, and overall freedom that come with being an independent professional are all undeniable. We really don’t blame you if you’re ready to get started right away.
We’re hoping that this article gave you a bit of insight on what it takes to get started as a freelancer in Belgium. Feel free to explore our other articles for more freelancing related articles!