The Ultimate List of Freelance Supporters in Belgium
Tips for starting, running and growing your freelance business in Belgium.
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This list is by the Freelance Business Community
running the Freelance Business Day - a conference dedicated to freelancers
L42, Brussels.
Learn more: http://freelancebusiness.be
We also manage the Facebook group Freelancers in Belgium
60+ organisations supporting freelancers in Belgium
Photograph: lee Scott / Unsplash
Tips for starting your freelance business
...by experienced freelancers...
"Review & reset your pricing all the time. Remember: when you've had a success with a client your value has increased because you have more experience."
Martketing strategist & Business Developer
"Avoid giving in on pricing just to get a customer. In my first year I did 5 times as much work to get the same payment as for one project I do today. If customers can't respect your price, you really don't want them."
Digital strategist & Content marketeer
"Do, experiment, learn, test - only by stepping into actions. The learning will come.

Start with a minimum viable product/service - the best you can do on this moment, but taking into account that this product will keep on changing - no product is ever really 'finished' and nothing is perfect from the start.

See the entrepreneurial journey as a playground, experiment a lot, and don't forget to make fun !"
Mindfulness, mind, body & process facilitator
Payrolling
Freelancers choose payrolling when they would like a dedicated company to acts as your employer and handles the administration and taxes against a small fee. Read more in the Freelance Business blog here.

Some major payrolling companies in Belgium
Government Support
Belgium is divided in 3 major areas. Each of these have their own portals full of support and information about starting a business in Belgium.
Does this list need an update?
Email us at hello@freelancebusiness.be
First point of contact
The cities provide information services for anyone who is starting or developing a business. They can advice on permits (e.g construction-, food-, export-, stock trading businesses etc. need special permits to operate officially).
Here are the links to the counters in the biggest cities in Belgium:
Administrative steps for starting a business in Belgium
1. Can you start a business in Belgium?
Check if you are eligible to start a business in Belgium. Learn more here.

If you are a foreigner living in Belgium you might need to have a professional card. The formalities differs depending on if you set up your business in the Flemish, Brussels or Walloon region. See more here.
2. Company format
Will you start as a 'natural person' or sole proprietorship (entreprise individuelle/eenmanszaak) or will you open a limited company? Read more about the company formats in Belgium here. To help you choose which is suitable for you we have a blog post about it which you can access here.

Tip: the government of Estonia allows people to start a business there without you being a resident there through their e-residency programme. Ideal for digital nomads! But be aware you will be subject to double taxation. We recommend you consult a tax adviser before considering this option.
Learn more about it here.
3. Open a bank account
When you start a business you should get a separate current account for your business activities. Read more about it later in the list.
4. Register your business
You register your business and get a company number, which also serves as a VAT and social security number at the Central Enterprise Databank (Banque-Carrefour des Entreprises or Kruispuntbank van Ondernemingen).

You can do all of this through a one-stop-shop or business counter (guichet d'entreprise/ondernemingsloket). More about them later in this list.
5. Figure out accounting & insurances
You get tips about accounting, taxes and insurances later in this list.
6. Get support from fellow freelancers
Get support by meeting fellow freelancers at our Freelance Business events - or by joining the FB group Freelancers in Belgium.

The most uptodate administrative steps are provided in English by the Belgium.be portal. If you would like guidance from a real person check our list 'First point of contact' below.

You can also get more detailed information in FreelanceBusiness.be' blog about starting as self-employed.
Karen Lamb
"A year from now you will wish you would have started today"
Enterprise Counters and Social Security Funds
The Social Security Funds help you register your trade number and VAT number and take care of the social security payments. There is a fee to register a business, and some cities pay this fee back to you.

Here is a list of links to the major ones in Belgium:
The National Institute for the Social Security of the Self-employed (NISSE) protects the self-employed entrepreneurs' social status – from the establishment of their company to their pension – in order to contribute to their social and economic well-being.

NISSE
The National Institute for the Social Security of the Self-employed

Banks
When you start a business you should get a separate current account for your business activities. Often you get a personal business advisor who can, next to advice on the bank services you need, they can also be useful to answer basic questions about tax, pension, insurance and refer you to their partners.


3 major banks in Belgium are:
ING
KBC
Belfius
Does this list need an update?
Email us at hello@freelancebusiness.be
Accounting and Bookkeeping
Read this blog post by Freelance Business to learn how to find an (English speaking) accountant in Belgium
Taxes
If you are self-employed living in Belgium for more than six months (183 days) of the year and are registered with your local commune, then you are classed as a Belgian resident and have to pay Belgian income tax on your worldwide income. Your taxable income is the income left after deductions for social security contributions, professional costs and so on.

If you have registered a company you will pay company tax on the profit, and personal income tax on the salary you take out.

You can find more info about taxes via the Belgium.be platform, however, most info is available only in NL/FR.
Professional expenses
Accountable has a great excel list with info about which types of expenses you can deduct. You can find it here.
Tax benefits from your copyright
Creative Shelter is an invoicing software helping creative freelancers obtain tax reductions when earning money on copyrighted work.
31st of March deadline
Every year by the end of March you or your accountant will need to send a list via Intervat (where you do your tax returns) of all your Belgian clients you have billed for more than 250€ during the previous year.
VAT
VAT - Accountable has a good guide about VAT in English which you can find here.

Earn less than 25 000€? Then you don't need to handle VAT, unless you want to. More info about that in Accountable's guide mentioned earlier.
Insurance
See Freelance Business blog article: 5 Essential Insurances for Freelancers by Startupverzekering.

A tip is to get a broker for your insurances, he or she can get better deals from major insurance companies and make a package dedicated to your needs by getting the best prices from various suppliers.
Running and growing your independent business
How do you find customers, events, training and education, office space, funding and digital tools
Matchmaking platforms
Here is a list of marketplaces connecting freelancers with employers
There are international platforms too - Upwork, Odesk, Freelancer.com, Fiverr
Startup jobs
Startups often hire freelancers to keep costs low and flexibility high. You can find some positions at Angel.co or Startupjobz.be.

Startup job fairs organises a monthly fair where you can meet startups looking to hire, also freelancers.
Does this list need an update?
Email us at hello@freelancebusiness.be
EU as a customer

For any job contracts within EU institutions, you have a few options: check the EPSO website for non-permanent posts.

Check with Randstad for interim posts. These are not public but they have an internal database of interesting profiles.

You can also work for a company that has a framework contract with the EU, e.g communication agencies. Another option is to apply for tenders, see the TED website.

[Thanks, Nina Jere, for the information about EU]!
Networking
The most effective and used way for most freelancers to get clients is by networking. Check out our tips for networking effectively here.

FB groups


If Belgium is not enough:

Digital Nomads Around The World
Events & Education

FreelanceBusiness.be - The Freelance Business community organises educational and networking events for starting and growing freelance businesses in Belgium, including the yearly conference Freelance Business Day.


Entrelancers - regular meetups with speed networking sessions where members pitch their ideas or promote their freelance services.


The Google Digital Atelier in Brussels offer workshops around digital marketing.


Toastmasters: club for practising public speaking


Belgian freelancer Line De Vos is launching short practical courses to support online entrepreneurs. See it here.


The European Freelancers Week is hosted every year in October.


Check also the sites of membership organisations below & co-working spaces for their events.

Event listings

Here are websites where you can find more events for your professional growth!


Media

Nextconomy - platform in NL/FR about the future of work & freelance economy

The Bulletin - The Bulletin is Belgium's leading English-language platform for the international community with a lot of information about self-employment.


Funding & subsidies

Funding and subsidies depend a lot on where you live and what you need funding for. The best to advice on this are the national information portals and the first points of contacts mentioned earlier. Or ask fellow freelancers!



Get EU funding for working abroad

The EU sponsors a programme called Erasmus for Young Entrepreneurs (young in terms of lifetime of business, not your own age).

If you started your business less than 3 years ago you can move to another country in EU for 1-6 months and get costs covered for living there (up to 1000€ per month). The aim is to work together with, learn from and exchange ideas and knowledge with an experienced entrepreneur, the host who has 3 + years of business experience. And if you have been active 3+ years as self employed you can be a host. More info here.

There is a bit of administration (it's EU sponsored after all) but it's possible and a great alternative for digital nomads.


Co-working spaces
If you would like to have an office, a coworking space might be a viable option. There are many offices in every city. Our favourite way to find the ones closest to home or most easy to reach is by doing a search on Google Maps.

Other things to consider when picking a place:

  • Who else is there: Will you have many peers/competitors there? Or will you be the only one active in your field and have a room full of potential clients?
  • Price, flexibility. Do you need it full time, for a few hours or a day in the week.
  • Who else is there: Will you have many peers/competitors there? Or will you be the only one active in your field and have a room full of potential clients?
  • Price, flexibility. Do you need it full time, for a few hours or a day in the week.
  • Meeting room: Is there a meeting room - this can be handy for meeting clients. Is the meeting room included in the price? How often does it get booked?
  • Extras: Events, networking opportunities (lunches, online platforms, e.g Zapfloor...) , printing, coffee, gym, child care, parking…
  • Opening hours: Is the place accessible in the evenings/weekends?
  • Intercity: Do you sometimes need a space in another city? E.g with Regus membership you can have meetings in multiple cities
  • Interior: Simply - do you like the space, do you feel good, inspired?
More options for coworking
enables you to rent a desk at a company with extra space
The supplier of flexible coworking rental d.work makes it easy for you to rent a coworking spot per hour, at multiple coworking spaces, like The Office, Le Phare Du Kanaal, Les Galeries, Silversquare, Bon Jour & Transforma BXL
Informal co-working
There are groups on Facebook & Meetup who meet at coffee shops once in a while to work together and have breakfast/lunch.Our company works according to the principle of individual approach to every client. This method lets us to get success in problems of all levels.
Mobility
Leasing of 2nd hand cars
Most complete on the market (European market leader):
- almost all stations except Q8 and Colruyt
- all of Europe
- toll included
- bi-monthly automatic billing
- detailed billing
- separate billing for different countries (tax reasons)
- No yearly cost or subscription cost

[Thanks to Lien De Leenheer for the recommendation]

Is there an awesome resource for Belgian freelancers you think we should add? Found a typo? Wrong information? Want to give feedback? Please email us at hello@freelancebusiness.be!
Disclaimer: the information on this page is based on the information found on official government and local websites, and on the experience of the author. While we have done our best to make sure it is accurate, rules and regulations change and each individual situation might be different, so it is always a good idea to check with appropriate authorities for the latest information.Consequently, Freelance Business does not assume any responsibility or liability for any issues or damages stemming from the use of the information on this website.
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