Belgium is an attractive location for contractors in the EU, and has the advantage of easy access and a special expat tax rate if your income is above a certain amount. If you are an EU citizen, then the process of entering the country and working as a contractor is simplified. Non-EU contractors will need to take a few extra steps to work in Belgium, and may want to consider working as employees or through an umbrella company for assistance.
This guide will explain how to get paid, meet social security obligations and determine tax residency, to help you as you set up your contracts in Belgium. We also explain the solutions for overcoming any challenge that you might face if Belgium is a new work location for you.
What are Your Options for Getting Paid as a Contractor in Belgium?
Getting paid should be fairly straightforward for EU citizens given the common currency (the euro), which avoids the issue of fluctuating exchange rates. If you are non-EU and getting paid in euros then you might want to set your rates based on your home currency even if you are being paid in Belgium. You can ask your clients to either pay you by wire or check, and it may be simpler to open a Belgian bank account to accept payment.
First, as a contractor you will need to register to pay both self-employment and corporate tax in Belgium. You will be filing tax returns and will need to make regular withholding and social security contributions.
How Much is Social Security in Belgium?
The social security contributions for contractors is nearly 22% of annual income, and may be less as your income exceeds certain thresholds. You will have to register for social security before you begin work.
Do You Need a Visa to Work in Belgium?
The work visa rules are different depending upon whether you are an EU citizen or not. In general, you should have your contract or job set up prior to applying for either a work visa or resident permit.
- UK Citizens and EU Citizens
As members of the EU, UK citizens don’t need a work visa in Belgium, but that could change when Brexit goes through. There could be rule changes that exclude UK citizens from the freedom of travel rights in the EU, and if you are working long term in Belgium you might need to adjust your work permission.
For now, you just register locally and then apply for a resident permit. You will need a professional card to be self-employed in Belgium, and that can be applied for ahead of time at a Belgian consulate.
- Non-EU Citizens
Non-EU citizens will need a work permit, and can only work as employees or using a professional card as a self-employed. This means that as an employee you will need a local company of record to hire you and sponsor the work permit. If you apply for the professional card, then that will act as your work permit. You can also use the EU Blue Card if you are a highly skilled professional.
Are You a Tax Resident in Belgium?
If you live and work in Belgium more than 183 days per year, then you will be classified as a tax resident. What this means is that Belgium will tax your worldwide income, and then you will have to seek an offset via tax treaties with your home country. If you are self-employed in Belgium less than 183 days, you only pay tax on income earned inside the country.
How to File Taxes in Belgium
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