Doing Freelance Business in Belgium

Tips for starting, running and growing your freelance business in Belgium.
Update 2022
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The most complete guide for freelancers in Belgium
Note: While we are trying to keep this guide as updated as possible, requirements and information do change. We recommend that you consult a professional accountant for any things related to establishing and running your freelance business in Belgium.
Photograph: lee Scott / Unsplash


to the freelance ecosystem in Belgium.
A little bit of figures and statistics
According to the FOD Economie - a freelancer or a self-employed person in Belgium is someone who exercises a professional activity without being bound by an employment contract or status. A self-employed person in Belgium has their own social status and obligations to cover social protection fees. This person can exercise their independent professional activity in the legal form of a sole proprietorship (independent natural person) or a company (legal entity) either as a full-time worker, a part-time worker or as a helper to another self-employed person.

Unfortunately, Belgian authorities are not separating independent professionals according to their scope of work. The numbers and statistics provided by them are general and include freelancers working across seven industries: agriculture, fishing, industry, and crafts (manufacturing, trade, liberal professions, services, and miscellaneous). Due to this, it is challenging to draw a distinctive description of white-collar freelancers vs. blue-collar freelancers.

On the 31st of December 2021, there were 1.230.419 self-employed entrepreneurs and helpers (as defined by RSVZ) that were affiliated with social insurance funds, precisely:

  • More than 60% in the Flemish Region
  • Almost 10% in the Brussels-Capital Region
  • Less than 30% in the Walloon Region
The 2021 UNIZO report states that the number of self-employed people in full-time occupations has been declining yearly since 2003, while part-time work and self-employment on a pension are gradually growing.

Of the 1.2 million self-employed people and helpers who are affiliated with social insurance funds in Belgium:

  • (64.8 %) are self-employed in their main occupation,
  • (24.8 %) are self-employed in secondary occupation
  • (10.4 %) active after retirement age.

They belong to the age group of:

  • 35 to 49 years (427.533; 36.1% of the total)
  • 50 to 64 years (384.041; 32.5% of the total).

Most of them are men (767.126; 64.9% of the total).

They mainly work in two industries:

  • trade (333.457; 28.2 % of the total)
  • liberal professions (374.418; 31.7 % of the total).

During the last ten years, the number of female self-employed has increased slightly faster (+2.6 %) than that of male self-employed (+2 %). A trend that also continued between 2019 and 2020 with a respective increase in the number of female and male self-employed of +3.6% and +3.1%.

As of 1st January 2017, Belgian authorities allow students to apply for self-employed status. Thanks to that statute, students can:

  • Free up time to combine self-employment with their studies;
  • Enjoy various benefits, particularly social protection and lower social and tax thresholds.

Most students execute the right to self-employment in the following fields:

  • Liberal professions - 39,66%
  • Trade - 30,52%
  • Industry - 15,57%
  • Agriculture - 5%
  • Other - 4,33%
  • Services - 4,84%
Unizo and Graydon made an attempt to evaluate the number of freelancers (white-collars) in Brussels and Flemish Region. According to the Freelance Focus report 2022 there are 198.664 (vs 185.343 in 2021) freelancers active in Brussels and Flemish Region. As stated in this report, white-collar freelancers do not have a specific status, therefore no official numbers are available in Belgium. In order to make an estimation, the report takes into account the specific NACE-codes which describe an independent activity. For example, consultancy, ICT, PR and media services, photography etc. No similar estimation is found for the Walloon Region.

The report also shows that 82% of freelancers have either a master or bachelor degree.

Part I:
Starting as a freelancer

A very short list
These are the steps you need to follow to register yourself as an independent professional.
  • 1. Check if you are eligible?
    Read more about it below.
  • 2. Open a bank account
    When you start a business, you should get a separate professional account for your business activities. Read more about it later in this Guide.
  • 3. Register your business
    Head to the Central Enterprise Databank (Banque-Carrefour des Entreprises or Kruispuntbank van Ondernemingen) or to a business counter in your city (guichet d'entreprise/ondernemingsloket) to register your business and get a company number, which also serves as a VAT and social security number.
  • 4. Choose your company format
    Before your do your registration, you need to choose your 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.
  • 5. Estimate your social contributions and income tax
    Read more about it here
  • 6. Health insurance and other insurances
    You can find more about insurances in this Guide.
  • 7. Figure out accounting, get a draft contract and invoice template
    You get tips about accounting here, taxes and insurance here later in this list.
  • 8. Get support from fellow freelancers
    Get support by meeting fellow freelancers at our Freelance Business events - or by joining the Freelance Business group.

    The most up-to-date administrative steps are provided in English by the 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 blog about starting as self-employed.

Are you eligible to freelance in Belgium?

Before starting to freelance, you need to check if you are eligible to start a business in Belgium. Learn more here.
  • You would be eligible if you have Belgian nationality or are from one of the Member States of the European Economic Area (European Union, Iceland, Norway, and Liechtenstein) or Switzerland. If you're a UK national, find more information here.
  • If you are a foreigner living in Belgium, you might need a professional card. The formalities differ depending on whether you set up your business in the Flemish, Brussels, or Walloon Region. See more here. You may also want to learn Dutch or French to be at ease with the official papers.
  • If you live in Belgium for more than six months (183 days) of the year and are registered with your local municipality, you are a Belgian resident. You must pay Belgian tax on your worldwide income if you are a Belgian resident.
  • If you're not a member of those countries, you will need to obtain a professional card – (a beroepskaart/carte professionnelle) from your consulate if you live abroad. The card acts as a work permit and costs €140. Its validity is for 1-5 years, but you can extend this for a fee of €90 per year. You might also need a visa and a Belgian residency permit to enter Belgium.
  • You need to be at least 18 years old (or 16 for craftspeople), not be under a prison sentence, be entitled to your civil rights, and not be banned from practising your profession.
  • You will also need either a valid "certificate of registration model A" (attest van immatriculation model A/attestation d'immatriculation modèle A) or proof that you are registered in the foreigners' register (electronic residence card type A)..
  • Certain professions or businesses require you to prove you have the skills and fulfil certain conditions before you start working. You can see the list of regulated activities in Belgium here.
Which business form should you choose?
Will you start as a 'natural person,' as a 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.
  • 1. Freelancer (eenmanszaak/ entreprise individuelle) status
    We described how to start freelancing in Belgium in detail in this article.

    However, starting as a sole trader, sole proprietor, or simply an independent freelancer is not the only option for you to form a business entity. You may consider registering as a freelancer if you are not making more than € 25 000 per year. You can register as a freelancer as your main occupation or as a secondary occupation if you'd like to combine a fixed job with freelancing. You may want to consider other business structures if you start earning more. Read more here.
  • 2. Companies with unlimited liability, such as a general partnership (VOF) and a limited partnership (CommV)
    CommV is a limited partnership (Commanditaire vennootschap / société en commandite or CommV/SComm) (a company with legal personality). It is a business entity where a partnership with two people could be legally secured. No notaries services are required to form such a company, and you don't need to disclose your balance as it is with a company with limited liability. If you are considering partnering with someone and require an official entity to cover you both, CommV is the best option. Read more here.
  • 3. VOF (SNC)
    VOF 'vennootschap onder firma (vof)' or in French as a 'société en nom collectif (SNC) a general partnership (vennootschap onder firma/société en nom collectif or VOF/SNC) / (a company with legal personality). Read more here.
  • 4. A limited liability entity - BV
    It is the only entity that separates you as a private person from a business. You are no longer operating as a sole proprietorship. Many consider the limited liability company the best form for freelancers making more than €25 000 per year. Read more here.
  • 5. Interim
    One of the solutions to start freelancing without forming a legal entity is to choose a payrolling agency. What this means is that:

    • You can work as a self-employed individual without having to register as self-employed
    • You enjoy complete social protection (paid sick days, disability, family benefits, paid holidays, brief leave of absence, etc.)
    • You also accrue rights in the unemployment and pension system
    • You receive a salary instead of dealing with self-employed income and expenses balance sheet
    • You have one employer and one central social file that is managing your contracts with your clients
    • Freelancers choose ''payrolling'' or an interim contract when they would like a dedicated company to act as their employer and handle the administration and taxes for a small fee. In the interim, you will not have your own VAT number, and all invoicing will go via the interim agency. This invoicing price also includes the employer's social security contributions. At the end of the project, the interim will receive a C4 from the interim office, and their holiday allowance will be paid. You will also be paid an end-of-year bonus if you have worked enough days. In the interim, you will not be able to bring as many costs to your accounting as a self-employed.

    Some major companies in Belgium that offer interim jobs: Amplo, Tentoo, Smart.
  • 6. A helper
    You may also choose not to register an official entity if your husband, wife, or partner is already running a business. You may decide to assist or supplement a self-employed person in the exercise of their profession. An employment contract does not bind this relationship. Be careful with this arrangement as it may not give you ample social security rights. Always consult with an accountant.
  • 7. Digital nomad solution
    A faster solution can be registering your own company with a service like Xolo Leap and Xolo Go, which will take care of admin and banking for you. All you need to do is to register as an Estonian e-resident online (as Xolo is based in the country) and activate your account on Xolo Leap. Be aware that Estonia will take business taxes, and you will also have to pay taxes on your personal income if you reside in Belgium. Talk to your accountant about it.

    Are you planning to settle in another country in Europe? Check this list of Digital Nomads Visas in Europe
  • 6. Freelancing as a student in Belgium
    As of 2017, students in Belgium are allowed to register for their independent activities.

    The student-independent status applies to young people who meet three conditions:

    • Aged at least 18 and at most 25 years old,
    • Registered as a main activity to regularly take courses in an educational establishment in Belgium or abroad to obtain a diploma recognized by the competent authority in Belgium,
    • Having carried out a professional activity for which, they are subject to the social status of self-employed workers.

Government Support
  • Flanders Innovation & Entrepreneurship (VLAIO) is the contact point for entrepreneurs in Flanders. They encourage and support innovation and entrepreneurship and contribute to a favourable business climate. By being a one-stop shop, they build a bridge towards stronger entrepreneurship.
  • This website centralises all things related to living or running a business in Belgium.
  • An organisation supporting candidate entrepreneurs, start-ups, scale-ups, small, medium, or large companies with the activities that impact Brussels., the Brussels Agency for Business Support, offers a wide range of free advice, services, and tools to help these projects be successful.
  • It 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.
  • The Wallonia Export and Investment Agency or AWEX, is the public service in Wallonia in charge of attracting foreign investment to Wallonia-Belgium. It also stimulates foreign trade by assisting the companies established in their region in their export endeavours.
  • Cities
    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).

How to register your business
  • Step 1: Visit an enterprise counter
    Visit an enterprise counter (ondernemingsloket/guichet d'entreprises) and register your business with the Database of Enterprises in Belgium (Kruispuntbank van Ondernemingen (KBO)/Banque-Carrefour des Entreprises (BCE). See the list below.
  • Step 2: VAT number
    At the enterprise counter, you can also apply for your company number, which will be the same as your VAT number (BTW-nummer/numero TVA). The only difference will be that your VAT number will have the BE prefix, so you can also use it abroad. It is tax deductible, so you can add this invoice to your first business expenses.
  • KBO or BCE
    KBO or BCE is the only verified source of business information in Belgium - it is a national database where all companies are registered. You cannot run a business legally if you are not registered with the KBO/BCE.

    Tip: via the KBO search portal, you can find any enterprise status using their company number (which is the VAT number)
  • Tip
    If your earnings are less than 15000€, you can opt for petite enterprise/kleine onderneming status. This status makes you exempt from VAT, but also exempt from claiming it back. If you earn less than 25000€, handling VAT is unnecessary unless you opt for it. However, you still need to apply for the VAT number before you start.
Database of Enterprises in Belgium
Kruispuntbank van Ondernemingen (KBO)
Banque-Carrefour des Entreprises (BCE)
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.
  • Income tax
    Belgian residents have to pay Belgian income tax on their worldwide income. You can be classed as a Belgian resident if you are self-employed in Belgium for more than six months (183 days) of the year and are registered with your local commune.

    Your taxable income is the income left after deductions for social security contributions and professional costs. 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 platform. However, the platform makes most of the information available only in French or Dutch.
  • Social contributions
    You are also required to pay quarterly social security contributions – the enterprise counter can arrange that for you. The quarterly payments can vary from €700 to €1,500, depending on your earnings.
  • Tax declaration
    Once a year, you need to submit a tax declaration, which will define how much income tax you need to pay to the state. The tax declaration will consider your personal situation, including family status, dependants, loans, Persian funds contribution, etc.

    Important deadlines:

    Always consult this official source for your declaration purposes. If you work with an accountant, they will be able to help you to submit your declaration - the deadline is 30 September.

    You can find more information about tax declaration here.
    If you want to confirm how much tax you will have to pay, you can calculate it anonymously on Taxcalc.

    It is advisable to do quarterly tax prepayments to minimise your tax burden at the end of the year. A good accountant can help you run that painlessly.

    Additionally, you may avoid paying the state social contribution amounts if you register your business in e-residency and not via Belgian KBO/BCE. However, consider that if you choose this, the Belgian social system won't protect you if you face illness, disability, or loss of income. It may not be a big issue if you are still employed and running your freelance business part-time.
  • VAT
    The percentage of VAT tax depends on what kind of goods or services you sell and how necessary they are to the consumer.

    • 6% for basic necessities; the things every person needs, such as books, pharmaceuticals, water, milk and milk products, live animals and meat, services such as passenger transport, etc.

    • 12% for goods and services that are of social or economic interest. This category ranges from margarine to a TV subscription as well as caterers and catering services (drinks and the supply of prepared meals not included)

    • 21% for anything not covered with the 6% and 12% rate

Tax benefits from your copyright

You can reduce your taxes if you create content such as code for software, websites, applications, graphics, and advertisements. Copyright income can be taxed at 15% or less instead of the usual 50-65% on your professional income. However, a detailed description of this is required in your agreement with the customer.

The following professions are potentially eligible for the tax-friendly copyright transfer regime: software developers, software architects, designers, musicians, authors, artists, marketeers, film/TV directors, architects, lecturers, photographers, actors, dancers, journalists, etc.

Professional expenses

Always consult with an accountant regarding which types of expenses you can deduct.
See a quick summary below

List of clients

By the end of March every year, you or your accountant must send a list via Intervat (where you do your tax returns) of all the Belgian clients you have billed for more than 250€ the previous year. You can exclude from this list the customers that don't have a Belgian VAT number and customers with whom you have less than 250 euros turnover per year.

Maternity (Paternity) leave as a freelancer in Belgium

What can a freelance mom-to-be expect as support in Belgium? Read more about it here.
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.
Risks to consider
There are three main things to consider when deciding whether to take out business insurance:
  • Could you afford the cost of a claim? The cost of any claim will likely far outweigh the cost of purchasing your insurance.
  • Do you have a legal obligation? While less common for freelancers, insurance is a legal requirement if you have part-time or temporary staff. A fine can be imposed on you if you don't have it in place with the certificate to prove it.
  • Will insurance open more job opportunities? Some clients will require adequate insurance to enter into a relationship with you as a freelancer.
Knowing what insurance you need can be confusing. As a freelancer, depending on your work, you may be more likely to take steps to cover against accusations of copyright infringement or public liability should a public member have an accident due to the presence of your equipment.

Below, we've listed some of the most common risks that freelancers are likely to face and how to take steps to protect against them.
  • Intellectual property infringement
    If you use third-party materials such as images and music without the appropriate permission, you could be liable for intellectual property infringement. For example, you produced a piece of marketing collateral for a client using a photo sourced through google images. The ownership was overlooked, and no one obtained the appropriate permission to use the image. Your client could be sued, which might result in your client taking legal action against you.
  • Refusal of payment
    What if a client refuses to pay your fees due to a complaint about your service, dissatisfaction with your work, or to avoid their contractual agreement by claiming negligence? Whether you did anything wrong or not, this leaves you in a difficult situation, needing legal support and potentially out of pocket.
  • Big little mistakes
    Working on strict deadlines can be stressful. Spelling mistakes, inaccurate pricing, typography/layout errors, or omission of vital information are little things that could cause massive damage to your reputation.
Types of insurance for freelancers
Now for the good news - for every risk listed above (and many not listed), there's protection to help reduce the impact of that risk.

  • Professional indemnity insurance
    ou might get tasked with developing big, new, and sometimes controversial ideas as a freelancer. But what if they don't work out and your client doesn't get the results they expected? Worst case scenario, you could face a legal claim and a demand for compensation. This scenario is where Professional Indemnity (PI), also known as errors and omissions insurance, comes in. You may also find that clients insist you have professional indemnity cover – so having it could even help you win business.

    Professional indemnity insurance is designed for any business offering a professional service or advice and will protect you if:

    • You make a mistake, or a client suffers – or claims to suffer – a financial loss due to your work. In this circumstance, professional indemnity insurance will cover your legal expenses and compensation costs.

    • You infringe industry regulations. In situations like this, professional indemnity will cover your defence costs and resulting fines, many of which are insurable.

    • You become involved in an intellectual property dispute - whether protecting your own intellectual property or defending an infringement of somebody else's. This can include using images, music, or another company's branding or logo without permission.

  • Public liability insurance
    Public liability insurance is another essential requirement. It protects your business if you cause injury or property damage to a third party. As a freelancer, you could risk causing injury or property damage while visiting a client's office or attending industry events. Even if you're mainly home-based, public liability insurance may be relevant to you as you may find yourself working elsewhere from time-to-time, or working with clients at your home office.
  • Business contents insurance
    Your valuable equipment needs protection, whether a simple laptop, camera, or filming equipment. Business contents insurance covers everything in your office, including computers, furniture, and documents. It would be best if you also considered portable equipment insurance, which covers everything you take out and about with you, such as laptops, mobiles, cameras, and tablets.

    A tip is to get a broker for your insurance. They can get better deals from major insurance companies and make a package dedicated to your needs by getting the best prices from various suppliers.

  • Media liability insurance
    Similar to professional indemnity insurance, media liability insurance is designed for the unique needs of media and advertising businesses. It protects you from infringement of intellectual property, breach of confidentiality or right to privacy, breach of comparative advertising regulations, slander, or making false or misleading claims. So, if you are faced with a failure on social media, a client's website, or another online or offline channel, any legal claims and compensation may be taken care of by this particular cover.
  • Upgraded health insurance
    For health insurance, you need to be associated with a health insurance fund (ziekenfonds/mutualité). In Belgium, you have a selection of the following health insurance funds:

    • Christian health fund
    • Liberal health fund
    • Independent health fund
    • Neutral health fund
    • Socialist health fund
    • HZIV (de Hulpkas voor ziekte- en invaliditeitsverzekering) - is one more organisation you need to contribute to by annual payments. This organisation collects funds to support those in need, or you in particular if you happen to suffer from illness or invalidity.

    You can select and contact the one you like here.

    Belgium has a co-payment system in healthcare, which means that despite having obligatory health insurance and possibly also hospitalisation insurance, you would still need to pay a part of the hospital bills yourself. So why not invest in additional insurance to cover high medical costs?

    The additional healthcare insurance covers the following types of costs:

    • Any costs that remain after the intervention of the obligatory health insurance.
    • Doctor fees and a single room surcharges
    • Ambulance transport.
  • Car insurance
    Every car owner in Belgium is legally obliged to have liability insurance. But did you know you can add additional guarantees? For example, insurance of the driver or road and travel assistance.

    If you're using your car for your business, don't forget to ask to add these additional options to your policy! However, it is good to know that some insurance companies add an extra premium because of the higher risk associated with using the car for work purposes.
  • Supplementary pension and income protection
    As self-employed, you are already contributing to the government fund for pension insurance. You can also sign up for supplementary pension insurance. The government is subsidising this type of insurance with tax benefits. Therefore, it may help you to optimise your tax.

    Take this insurance up a notch by adding cheaper guaranteed income protection insurance. Income insurance is critical if you are self-employed in Belgium, as you need to ensure that you have at least a minimum guaranteed income if something goes wrong.
  • Cyber insurance
    You may consider this insurance if you work with sensitive information, store proprietary client data, or process your customers' personal information. Due to strict GDPR rules, you must ensure that your devices are secure. With cyber risk insurance, you can limit the potential financial damage from a cyber hack.
Check the following insurance companies in Belgium

and invoicing

Read this blog post by Freelance Business to learn how to find an (English speaking) accountant in Belgium.

Cost of an accountant

For standard services:

  • 4 x VAT return,
  • 1x Annual tax return,
  • Documenting invoices/expenses
  • Tax advice (one meeting a year and/or ongoing advice)
You can expect to pay anything between 800 - 2500€ annually.

The cost depends on whether:

- it's a small, independent accountant or a large accountancy firm giving the service,
- if it's accounting for a small one-person business or a limited company,
- the number of invoices and expenses to be processed,
- whether personal taxes are included or not.
What your freelance business invoice should include
Getting paid is the pot of gold at the end of the freelance rainbow. Like most aspects of freelancing, invoicing is rarely straightforward, and letting inaccuracies slip in can hurt your accounting and tax returns. Sloppy invoicing can also damage your professional image in front of customers, as it's a vital part of your service.

These are the things your business invoice should include:
  • Title ''INVOICE''
    makes it easy to understand that the document is an invoice.
  • Your logo
    is an optional element, but it will help to keep your brand fresh in the eyes of your customer.
  • Invoice number
    for accounting purposes so each invoice can be tracked
  • Your company data and your customer's data
    address, company name, contact information, and a VAT number, if applicable
  • Invoice date and due date,
    plus interest rate for overdue payments if you prefer to have it. The latter might affect the payment discipline. Usually, 0.01 or 0.02% per day is used..
  • A detailed description of the service provided
    since the reason for the creation of the invoice needs to be very clear.
  • Total amount to be paid
    you can also add information about how the amount was calculated (whether it's an hourly rate, rate per piece, etc.)
  • VAT
    are you charging VAT? If so, make sure to indicate this on the invoice. The invoice should include the VAT %, the amount excluding VAT, and the VAT amount. If you're creating a reverse charge invoice (VAT 0%), you also need to have the following sentence on your invoice: 'The purchase is liable to Intra-Community supply 0%, Reverse charge.' (You can verify your customer VAT here. If you have questions about whether or not you have to charge a VAT, please check this source)
  • Payment details
    how can the customer pay you: IBAN of a bank account, name of the bank, SWIFT code, bank information
Freelance-friendly banks in Belgium
When you start a business, you should get a business account for your business activities. You can usually get a personal business advisor who can advise you on the bank services you need, answer basic questions about tax, pension, and insurance, and refer you to their partners.
  • positioned as the first bank for freelancers in Belgium. Co-working space for Freelancers and Start-Up
  • Argenta Bank
  • BNP Paribas Fortis
  • KBC Bank
  • AXA Bank – Belgium.
  • ING Belgium
  • Crelan
  • Rabobank
  • ING Belgium
  • Revolut
Would you like to include your business here?
Email us at
Freelance contracts
Do not accept any freelance assignments without a contract. You may want to invest a little and hire a lawyer to create a draft contract that you can use for your clients, or you can self-educate yourself via these resources.

(ps. Freelance Business is not responsible for any issues arising from using this advice - please always consult with a lawyer for a second opinion)
What your contract needs to have
  • Company details
    It needs to be clear which parties are engaging in the contract. All your company's details, including your address, must be included in the contract.
  • Assignment description
    Describe the task and what is required of you and your client. If the client makes a claim against your work, you will be able to show what your duties were through this information
  • Rate/fee
    This portion will include your payment details – how much and for what time period. Ian goes into more detail on which payment option is the best in our previous article.
  • Payment terms
    State how you will be paid and include any details such as interest rates for late payments. If you're struggling to find a simple and powerful invoicing solution, see how Xolo can help you here.
  • Delivery timeframe
    When does the work start? When do you need to deliver the project? What are the main milestones, and when do they need to be done? Specify that in the contract.
  • Protecting yourself against liability
    Many things can go wrong in a project, either due to your error (we're all human!) or a force majeure circumstance outside your control. Mistakes can lead to a financial claim from your client, damage to your reputation, a legal procedure, or even bankruptcy. This is why apart from the correct rules and stipulations outlined in a contract, you also need to consider getting insurance. (You can read our full article on insurance here).

    You must also talk to your client and agree to a maximum liability amount in the contract.

    Read more about avoiding liability in this article.
  • Confidentiality
    Confidentiality is not a one-sided discussion with your client. You need to discuss:

    • What is confidential information, and what is not?
    • What happens if a necessity to expose something arises?
    • Who can I share the information with?
    • What happens when the contract ends?
    • What will the consequences be if any of the agreed terms are breached? Will there be penalties?
    • Intellectual property (IP)
    The issue of ownership is important. If you create something for your client, they will likely get ownership of the asset. It is also possible for you to retain the rights to your work, but that may lead to lower pay. IP is important for creative freelancers like graphic designers and artists, and the exact terms of the assignment need to be laid out in the contract.

    You can learn more about protecting your IP rights in Stan De Vocht's session here.
  • Force majeure
    Force majeure circumstances are "unforeseeable external circumstances that prevent someone from fulfilling a contract." Including a force majeure clause in your contract will protect you in case of extreme emergencies which could prevent you from fulfilling your duties.
  • Notice period and early termination
    If, for any reason, the freelance assignment needs to be terminated prematurely, the notice period needs to be stated clearly in the contract. The rules on contract termination and payment need to be agreed upon too.
Funding and 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.
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.

Growing your freelance business
Creating your personal brand
When they start their independent journey, many freelancers question whether they should act on behalf of their own name or a company name. Our answer to this - you always have to start with your own personal identity, not a business identity. This is because your potential clients need to know you as an expert and not as a company of 1.

We have heard many experts sharing this opinion during our events.
You can watch their presentations below.
Marketing and sales of your freelance business
The marketing of your freelance business will depend on the nature of your business. Throughout Freelance Business expert sessions, the following channels were indicated as the most effective.

You can watch Freelance Business tutorials to learn more about freelance business marketing.
  • -1-
    Word of mouth
    inform many people that you are providing specific services as a freelancer. Use hashtag #iamfreelance.
  • -2-
    Linkedin is your main portfolio page. Be sure to utilise all the options within this network. Continuously update your page.
  • -3-
    Ask for recommendations and referrals
    You can watch this tutorial to know more about how to get recommendations and referrals:

    How to build a strong referral business with Katrina Cobb
  • -4-
    Share your expertise
    Publish about your expertise regularly on Linkedin or any other social media channel.
  • -5-
    Create your website. A pro without a website doesn't create a good impression. It can be just a 1-pager.
How to set your freelance fee? You will most likely be asked about your daily or hourly fee in Belgium. While it is not the most recommended price mechanism, you still need to know how much you cost for a day. In order to do that, calculate all your expenses in a year, which can be:
  • Office space rental or co-working abonnement
  • Laptop and cost of other devices and software you need for your work
  • Phone and mobile subscription
  • Car (purchase or leasing) if needed for your work
  • Car insurance and tax
  • Health insurance fees
  • Pension funds fees
  • Coffees
  • Electricity and heating costs, if not part of your office rental
  • Internet
There can be more or less. Add your typical salary to it x13.95, and you will have an annual figure of how much it would cost a company to hire you as an employee. Divide this by the number of working days, and you will have your daily freelance rate.

Read here more about talent acquisition costs.

More advanced freelancers work via project feed. This requires a better understanding of your business and the costs associated with involving you in a project. Project fees also allow you more flexibility in terms of your services and you can start hiring other freelancers for your projects.
Freelance platforms and collectives
You may want to consider marketing your services via existing freelance marketplace platforms.
  • Agoria Techlancers - Agoria Techlancers is a live community of technology freelancers in Belgium
  • Beelance - Beelance is the platform that brings together and simplifies collaboration between IT/digital freelancers and companies
  • Entrelancers - Where investors and founders meet freelancers
  • - claims to be the most active database of freelancers and freelance projects.
  • GIGHouse - Where experts feel at home
  • i-Lance - a wide range of freelance jobs, i-Lance has partnered up with a variety of companies and start-ups to offer freelancers a large selection of services, from starting freelancing to insurance, accounting, and more
  • Jellow - The most friendly freelance network
  • Linkus - Freelance Job Offers in Belgium in the digital marketing sector
  • - Find freelancers quick and easy for your freelance assignments
  • - Via this online platform, you can find potential freelance assignments.
Agencies or collectives
  • Crosscast - CrossCast matcht bedrijven met freelance talent in marketing en communicatie

  • Nedworks - Digital Talent Agency with the mission to connect companies with digital professionals by creating people-centric solutions and building a community that inspires each other.
Startup jobs
Startups often hire freelancers to keep costs low and flexibility high.
Remote jobs
You can find an extensive list of companies hiring remotely here.
EU as a customer
  • For any job contracts within EU institutions, check the EPSO website.
  • You can also work for a company that has a framework contract with the EU, e.g., communication agencies.
  • To apply for the EU tenders, see the TED (Tenders Electronic Daily) website.
Growing your network
The most effective and widely used method for most freelancers to get clients is through networking. Check out our tips for networking effectively here.
Network or membership organisations

  • Freelance Business Community - a global community of freelancers, based in Belgium. The Freelance Business community organises educational and networking events for starting and growing freelance businesses, including the largest annual conference Freelance Business Month.

If Belgium is not enough:
Digital Nomads Around The World
Freelance events
  • Freelance Business Month - the largest annual event for freelancers, occurring online each year in October, organised by Freelance Business Community.
  • The European Freelancers Week is hosted annually in October and contains all the possible European freelancers' events.
  • Day of the Freelancer (also takes place in October) - organised by Nextconomy and UNIZO
  • Entrelancers - hosts regular meetups with speed networking sessions where members pitch their ideas or promote their freelance services.
  • The Google Digital Atelier in Brussels offers workshops based on digital marketing.
Media and newsletters
  • Freelance Business Blog - tips and practical advices to freelancers and those who are hiring them
  • - news about Freelancing around Europe
  • Nextconomy - media dedicated to the Future of Work and the freelance economy in NL/FR
  • The Bulletin is Belgium's leading English-language platform for the international community, with a lot of information about self-employment.

Part III: Infrastructure
Co-working spaces
A co-working space might be a viable option if you prefer having an office for your work. There are many offices in every city. Our favourite way to find the ones closest to home or most easy to reach is by searching on Google Maps.
Our favorite
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? Is the place accessible in the evenings/weekends?
  • 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…
  • Intercity:
    Do you sometimes need a space in another city? E.g with Regus membership you can have meetings in multiple cities. If you travel: does this co-working space has international agreements (like Visa)
Mobility solutions
  • Skipr - Skipr is a mobility SaaS solution for professionals that enables users to manage, plan, book, and pay for their mobility. From purchasing a train ticket, unlocking a shared bike to paying for your fuel/parking, Skipr is the centralised end-to-end mobility solution.

  • Lizy - Leasing of 2nd hand cars

  • XXIMO - The all-in-one mobility solution (Refuelling, parking, trains, and more)

  • Cyclis - leasing of a bike for self-employed

  • Lease-a-bike - leasing of a bike for self-employed
The list of fuel cards in Belgium. Read here.

Technology to assist your freelance business
Here is a list of companies offering digital tools for freelancers.
  • CRM tool simplifying sales
  • Accounting and Bookkeeping app
  • For all legal documents (freelance agreement, terms and conditions, privacy policy, etc.)
  • Invoicing software to help creative designers invoice with copyright and enjoy tax benefits
See other 80+ tools that freelancers use
Advice from freelancers to freelancers
There are several websites where you can register to get assignments as a freelancer. In these websites, you can reach out to companies directly and find clients by networking at events (virtual or live). There are different ways, but I think the most important is to know your ideal clients and hang out where they hang out. Easier said than done, but it is worth investing time and energy in researching where you can find them

Katinka Mészáros
Freelance Event Planner

Katrijn Everaerd
Founder, I support creative
Think carefully about which path you want to take. Know yourself, who you are, and what you want and don't want. What type of assignments? Which clients? How can you profile yourself as an expert in your field, and which direction do you want to take with your freelance assignments? Develop a strategy and implement this in your daily agenda.
I will keep saying this: connecting to other freelancers is the easiest and cheapest way to find work. Ask them for a coffee, develop a friendly relationship and, over time, they will start sending contacts, work, etc., your way. Pinky swear!

Linda A. Thompson
Freelance Writer

Delphine Bosse
Freelance Event Planner
Based on experience, the network and the 'bouche à oreille' recommendation is the most efficient way to keep yourself busy. It also means to remain accessible and to keep an open mind as each assignment is different and can generate from any encounter and discussion :-)
LinkedIn is - for me - the best marketing tool (and it's free!)

Annelies Delmoitié
Freelance Administratief Wonder

Dani Oshi
Freelance Web developer & Photographer
Form a local network of potential clients, and maybe start offering some services for free in the beginning to form experience, gain trust and establish professional relations. Have a professional website to show your services and products. Be disciplined and creative on ways to promote your services
Working with projects and people you are passionate about is your greatest calling card for new business. Find a stable base of longer-term clients/partners (i.e., 40%+) and build on it as a foundation. Knowing you have this 'in the bank' is a big stress-reliever and gives you the essential option of being able to say no to work you don't connect with.

Alec Walker-Love
Freelance Communication Professional

Sara Reyniers
Freelance Translator, Founder of Word Atlas bv, writer of journalistic blog
Figure out who you want to work for (your ideal client and projects), then learn what matters most to those clients and think of a strategy that allows you to deliver on those needs. Make sure that strategy aligns with your expertise, personality, and what you enjoy, so you love your work. Once that's aligned, communicate this to the world. Network, build connections, and see the magic happen.
Your network is the most valuable asset in generating leads. Make sure that you cultivate your connections and invest in developing trust in your relationships. If people like you, they will work with you

Leticia Corbisier
Freelance Productivity Hacker | Leadership and Communications Consultant

Renaat Sioncke
Certified Health and Wellness Coach
Finding clients can be tough, but there are ways to make it easier. One thing that works is to start small. Pick something you feel comfortable working with and look for smaller clients. If you're just starting out, try working with local businesses. Those are easier to find and usually don't require as much money upfront. It's also easier to convince clients to hire you if you know who they are and can talk to them in person. Once you've found your first few clients, you can expand your search. The key to finding clients is word of mouth. Always do a great job and impress them, so they'll have no hesitation in referring you to others. It's also a good idea to network with others who have similar interests or who can help you. Reach out to other freelancers, share your experiences and learn from them. In the long run, it'll be worth it!
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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