Contracting in Belgium

You might also find our other country guides to working abroad as a contractor useful too:

If you would like to discuss contracting working abroad or have questions about tax please call Freephone 0500 152500 / 01442 275789, email: antony.edwards@internationalumbrella.com or visit our website here: International Umbrella.

Working in Belgium

There are three main regions – Flanders, Wallonia and Brussels where the language spoken and written can be Flemish, German or French.

All work is governed by The Federal Parliament and then Local Labour Courts.

Collective Bargaining is the key mechanism by which labour standards are established and maintained.  

A multi-industry agreement that creates a formal framework for all collective agreements is concluded every two years. Additionally several industry agreements exist and many are extended by royal decree to become generally binding to all employees in a particular sector or geographical area.

Main industries in Belgium

The main industries are Agriculture 73%, Industry 25% and Services 2%. All economic activities are divided into branches or sectors and about 150 different sectors are officially recognised. Their legal framework is provided by joint committees in which both employers and employees have representation. These committees draw up Collective Labour Agreements, binding for all those in their sector. These agreements are important as they can override individual agreements between employer and employee. These agreements define minimum salaries, working hours and many other things.  

Belgium working practices

Working hours do not normally exceed 40 hours per week though 38 hours is the norm and most Belgium employees do not take paid leave during the first year of their employment

Most workers then become entitled to 20 days paid holiday per annum.

There are as many as 10 public holidays per year so slightly more than in the UK.

The minimum working age is 18 years setting aside apprenticeship contracts.

What your contract should state:

If you are employed your contract should clearly set out:

  • The name and address of your employer
  • The dates – start and finish of your assignment arrangement
  • A description of your work
  • Your pay and method of calculation
  • The length of any probationary period agreed
  • The hours of work

Visas for working in Belgium

Citizens of full European (EU, EFTA, EEA) member countries are able to live and work without a visa or work permit.

Belgium is a member of the SCHENGEN countries which are: Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Iceland, Italy, Greece, Luxembourg, The Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain and Sweden.

With a SCHENGEN visa, you may enter one country and travel freely throughout the SCHENGEN zone.

Nationals of the following countries, travelling with a valid passport do not need a visa to visit Belgium for less than 90 days: Andorra, Argentina, Australia, Bolivia, Brazil, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Costa Rica, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Estonia, Guatemala, Honduras, Hungary, Iceland, Israel, Japan, South Korea, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Malaysia, Malta, Mexico, Monaco, Nicaragua, New Zealand, Panama, Paraguay, Poland, San Morino, Singapore, Slovak Republic, Solvenia, Switzerland, USA, Uruguay and Vatican City.

Holders of passports NOT MENTIONED above WILL NEED to obtain a visa to enter Belgium.

There are various categories of Work Permit, to help understand these in greater detail please contact International Umbrella - Freephone 0500 152500 / 01442 275789 or email Antony Edwards at antony.edwards@internationalumbrella.com.

183 day rule in Belgium

Your treatment will depend on your residency and the duration of work assignment ‘183 day rule’.

If you are in the country for 183 days or more in any calendar year or for an average of 90 days in any four year period you are deemed to be tax resident. A similar test exists in most European countries.

Travelling days are normally excluded and only full days spent in the country are calculated, however in the UK in recent years the time you spend travelling is a consideration when abroad and there are limits. This test is only really a problem for you if you intend to work in Belgium as a self-employed person and pay your taxes in your home country. If you work under a LIMOSA declaration (see LIMOSA declarations below), or via your UK LTD Company as a freelance worker on assignment this is unlikely to be something to concern you.   

Deductions from your Gross Salary in Belgium include

Social Security System Contributions – the amount payable will be equal to 13.07% of your gross salary. It is deducted from your salary by your employer. Employed contractors will pay both employers and employees contributions and both are calculated on your full gross income.  

Sickness and Maternity Benefits include benefits in kind to include medical and dental treatment, hospitalisation and cash benefits such as work accidents payouts, disability benefits, old-age pensions, survivor’s pension, unemployment benefits and child allowance.   

Health Insurance – (which includes preventative and curative care) - a worker must choose a mutual benefit association or register and pay contributions to a supplementary health insurance fund.

If you arrive from a country with which Belgium has concluded a social security agreement, you must have been covered by a health insurance scheme of the relevant member country for at least six months prior to joining.  

Sickness Insurance is compulsory for everyone. If you see a Doctor in Belgium you will almost certainly have to pay in full for this at the time of treatment or consultation. The health scheme will then refund some of the cost once it receives a document from the Doctor.  

When you start work you become entitled to Family Allowances in Belgium unless you have the right to receive these in another country.

Under your Employment Contract you immediately become entitled to have medical expenses refunded through The Sickness Fund. However you do not become eligible for replacement income until the minimum 6m period of insurability within the EEA has elapsed. You remain insured by  your country of residence if you are in receipt of unemployment benefits when you arrive in Belgium.

It may be possible for you to continue to pay your NICs here in the UK. What used to be called an E101 can be completed by SJD on your behalf allowing you to continue paying UK NICs.    
Short periods of work do not normally carry pension rights.  

A DIMONA is a declaration of staff entering and leaving the country

A LIMOSA declaration is now only required if you are not a resident in Belgium. If you are a resident, which means you have registered for an ID card at the local Commune, then you will automatically receive a tax return. LIMOSA was designed to mop up those workers who received cash for their work and avoided paying taxes.   

The Social Trap – If you work in Belgium as a self-employed person and stay for a lengthy duration during the first two years you are unlikely to pay any Social Security there but this is not the answer for you – the system will catch up with you. The AVIS de REGULARISATION  demands you pay any shortfall by the end of a calendar year and if you fail to do this then they charge 10% interest monthly. Therefore it is vital to pay from day one and avoid the trap altogether.

Setting up a Belgian LTD Company rather than a UK one?

To set up a Belgian LTD Company you must be a resident there and have between 6K and 12K euros in the bank there. You must also have a university degree. The cost of creating a company there is also 2K euros. There are no shelf companies in Belgium, also most documents are in French or in Dutch.

Personal tax rates in Belgium

Euros earned Personal Tax Payable
0 – 8,070 25%
8,071 – 11,480     30%
11,481 – 19,130 40%
19,131 – 35,060  45%
Over 35,060 50%

Basic exemption 6,570 euros irrespective of marital status.  

Additional tax is payable on tax payers resident in a Belgian area which is between 5-8.5% of the income tax payable above. In addition you also have to pay up to 15% of dividend income earned from a foreign Company. So if your UK LTD Company pays you a dividend as a director and you are on a local assignment in Belgium you have to declare the said dividend.       

The only way to work in Belgium is to declare all of your Belgium source income. The only legal way to mitigate your taxes and Social Security is to maintain your centre of economic interest in the UK or in another country and pay yourself a small salary working for your own limited company ensuring all remaining income is properly declared through your Company.

Other useful information about Belgium

  • Belgium has a population of 10,839,905 people on January 1st, 2010
  • The languages for all written and most spoken word are Flemish, French and German
  • Telephone Code 32
  • Domain:  .be

If you have any questions about Contracting or would like any further advice please call our International team on Freephone 0500 152500 / 01442 275789 or email Antony Edwards: antony.edwards@sjdaccountancy.com

About International Umbrella

International Umbrella, previously know as SJD International, has the skills and experience to support contractors working abroad ensuring they operate in a compliant and tax efficient way.

Contracting abroad can bring many rewards but it also carries extra responsibilities and challenges with regards to tax and in-country compliance. Few companies offer support to British and non-British contractors working overseas. However, International Umbrella has the skills and experience to support contractors working abroad ensuring they operate in a compliant and tax efficient way.

If you would like to discuss contracting abroad or have questions about tax please call Freephone 0500 152500 / 01442 275789 or email: antony.edwards@internationalumbrella.com

SJD Accountancy

SJD Accountancy are the UK's largest specialist provider of fixed fee, Limited company accountancy services to contractors; we've been acting for contractors across the UK since 1992 and have more than 15,000 clients.

We are the only national specialist firm of contractor accountants with offices nationwide. SJD Accountancy has more qualified staff than any other firm in our market with qualifications from the following major tax and accountancy bodies - ATT, AAT, CTA, ACCA, CA, ACA and FCCA.

  • Unlimited face to face meetings. This is a unique service only SJD Accountancy offers - unlimited face to face meetings across the UK - tax is complicated and sometimes only a meeting will do.
  • UK's Largest contractor accountants with more qualified staff. No call centres, no outsourcing, no automated call handling. Simply telephone, email or meet your own dedicated accountant* face to face.
  • Money back service guarantee. All your telephone calls and emails will be answered the same day or we will make a full refund of that months fee.
  • Outstanding reputation. We have won more awards for customer service and accountancy excellence than any other firm in our market, including: Best Accountant for Contractors, Accountant of the Year and Best Professional Service Team to name just a few.
  • All inclusive low cost fixed fee accountancy package which includes completion of accounts*, payroll bureau, dividends and corporation tax computations, personal taxation, free bookkeeping software, your own dedicated accountant* and all company returns for a fixed fee of £120 plus VAT per month.

If you have any questions about contracting or would like any further advice please call our new client services helpdesk on 01442 275789 or email: janice@sjdaccountancy.com.

Appoint SJD Accountancy and never worry about your tax or accountancy affairs again.

Form your own Limited company with SJD - our same day online company formation service includes company bank account set up, VAT/PAYE registration and advice on optimum share structure. 

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*If you would like us to complete your company year end accounts we simply ask that you have been a client of SJD for one year or have made 12 monthly payments. All accountants are part or fully qualified.