What freelancers need to know about business banking in Belgium

Mismanaging your finances will get your freelance business in trouble. To prevent that, learn more about business banking in Belgium.
Every freelancer is an expert in their own craft, whether it is design, marketing, or IT. But few freelancers are experts at banking, which is why we want to give you a quick overview of the banking system in Belgium and how to manage your finances as a freelancer.

Belgium is one of the main financial sectors in Europe, with a complicated banking system. It is a pioneer in digital banking and mobile services (with 90% of the transactions being done electronically), which makes it convenient to manage your money wherever you are, but it also means face-to-face support is harder to get.

Business banking for freelancers in Belgium

If you want to have a freelance business in Belgium, there are many requirements and considerations you need to make, and how to manage your finances is one of them. If you rush into it, you can end up regretting it sooner or later. That goes for freelancing too. It can even be more daunting, as you'll have to go through the process by yourself. For a quick overview of the steps required to begin legally freelancing in Belgium, click here.

At the core of your financial administration is your business bank account, which will be used only for your business purposes. Even if you are a self-employed individual without a separate legal structure, such as a limited company (more about the difference here), you still need to have one.

A business account will separate your business from personal expenses and will make it easier for you and your accountant to manage your finances. Those accounts often come with support of different languages, support work with different currencies and will allow multiple account holders. You can also benefit from the expert advice from the bank's employees, and some banks will not charge you fees during the first year of operating the account, which will help you get your footing quicker. The business accounts come at a fee, which is roughly €40 - €80 per year, but that largely depends on the features you require, and you need to keep that cost in mind.
Choosing a bank in Belgium
The major banks in Belgium are:
KBC
See their terms here.
ING
See their terms here.
Belfius
See their terms here.
There are also over 140 banks operating in Belgium, with most being branches of foreign banks. Each will offer different terms and conditions for business banking and a different fee, so do your research!

For example, our team member Anastasiia Dehtiarova, when she was living in Belgium, would use the services of the Belfius bank. As long as the official papers for the company and local residence are in place, there is no issue with opening a bank account for a foreigner in Belgium. Most operations can be done through home banking (and the desktop and mobile apps), which is straightforward and can be translated into English. When it comes to more complex operations like opening and closing accounts, major changes or additions to your banking, such as address and branch changes, you need to come to your bank in person. If your French or Dutch are not good enough, you will need to find an English-speaking manager or operator, or bring a local friend. Some internal operations, such as account opening or closure, take days. Most transfers arrive within 1-2 business days.

Elina Jutelyte prefers KBC to any other bank. KBC has the most advanced mobile app, which means you don't even need to open your bank application on your computer. KBC also provides the unique GO Solid - a service that helps the account holder recover overdue and undisputed invoices at no extra charge. All you need to do is to submit the documentation via the KBC mobile app and KBC experts will follow it up for you. She also likes that the app allows you to couple additional services in one place: mobility fees, buying entertainment tickets, automate utilities payment services and much more. What is even more amazing, KBC now includes a special service called NOW JOBs, which allows you to recruit flexible staff (students or people looking for extra income). All you need to do is register your business with NOW JOBs and start placing your vacancies.
Alterantives
You can always consider registering and running your business through an e-residency. Your business entity will be located virtually in Estonia. If you register with Xolo Leap, you will get a business bank account as well and your tax reports will be handled automatically.

If you are not ready to register your business in Estonia, you may consider going with Xolo Go (automated invoicing and administration) which also provides you with a Business bank account (ISBN) to collect your payments. You may want to have a local bank account as well to transfer your earnings to your local account.

Using Xolo Go or Leap will allow you to invoice customers across borders using their internal invoicing system. Xolo will also take care of the administration side of the transfers and provide you with legal invoices, which you can then use to fill your tax return. Xolo Go will only take you minutes to set up and costs 5% per transaction, so no monthly fees will be required, like on a traditional business account. Find out more here.

Navigating the complicated world of business banking in Belgium can be a challenge, filled with lots of administration and fees. This is why we'd advise you to familiarise yourself with the territory and rules as soon as possible, seek the advice of other freelancers and experts, and invest in a good accountant - it will all pay off in the long term (see more about English-speaking accountants in Belgium here).
The information about banks were taken from their official website. If any changes are required, please let us know info@freelancebusiness.eu

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