How to find English-speaking bookkeepers in Belgium (Flanders)

5 minutes reading time
Last update on 19-01-2022

Finding the right English-speaking bookkeeper in your region is not always that easy. The most bookkeeping websites are mainly written in Flemish, so as a foreign resident or company, it is hard to decide which accounting firms will have English-speaking employees. Besides that, it is also hard to determine the quality of these accounting firms. In this article we will tell you more about how to start your business in Flanders, the rules of bookkeeping in Flanders and how foreign businesses or expats can find the perfect English-speaking bookkeeper in your region.

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How to start your business in Belgium?

There are several steps to start your business in Flanders.

Step 1: Select the right business type

The management, accounting and tax system will differ according to the business type you choose. The first choice you have to make is whether you are an Eenmanszaak (one man firm) or a Vennootschap (partnership). We will explain the difference between the two below.

  • Eenmanszaak: an Eenmanszaak is founded by one person. There is no clear division between your personal assets and that of your company. The income you earn through your business is considered your personal income, and you pay personal income tax on top of it. Furthermore, you are personally liable. You are therefore responsible for the risks of the company with all your assets, including your personal assets.
  • Vennootschap: there are different types of ‘Vennootschap’, namely Vennootschap Onder Firma (VOF), Besloten Vennootschap (BV - Ltd.) and Naamloze Vennootschap (NV). We will discuss them below.
    • Vennootschap Onder Firma (VOF): you start a VOF together with one or more entrepreneurs. Anyone who participates becomes co-owner. There is a clear separation between your equity and that of your company. As a manager or partner you pay the wages yourself, but the profit made remains the property of the company. You pay corporate tax on the income of your company. The company stands on its own, with its own rights, obligations and equity that is separate from that of the partners.
    • Besloten Vennootschap (BV - Ltd.): previously this was abbreviated as BVBA in Belgium, but since 2019 (May 1st), the Besloten Vennootschap is abbreviated as BV. The shares of a BV are not freely transferable. A BV is a legal entity with its own legal personality and equity. Partners are only linked to their own contribution. No minimum capital is required to set up a BV, but there must be sufficient initial capital.

Those who start their own business for the first time often opt for the Eenmanszaak. It is easier and cheaper to set up than a VOF, BV or NV and less start-up capital is required. Nevertheless, it is important to consider your choice carefully. If you have to make large investments, it might be interesting to opt for a Vennootschap. A bookkeeper or accountant can advise you on this important choice.

Step 2: Open a business bank account

With a new entrepreneurship, you must open a business bank account. Opening a business account has several advantages. This way you can separate the business administration from the private administration. Also, your accountant has to do less work, and you have a better insight into the finances of your company. In addition, a business account has a more professional image towards your customers: the name of your company is on the transcript of the payer or recipient. A business account is also often easy to link with the accounting system, and it is possible to use a business credit card. 

business bank account
 

Step 3: Establish a corporate entity

Before you can start running your company, you will need a corporate entity. To establish a corporate entity, you need to:

  • Set up the articles of association;
  • Apply for a bank certificate (A fixed minimum amount of capital is required for a NV - Naamloze Vennootschap);
  • Set up a memorandum of association and register within 15 days at the registration office of the FOD Finance;
  • Set up a financial plan;
  • Publish the memorandum of association.

Step 4: Register at the Crossroads Bank for Enterprises (KBO)

The KBO will verify whether your company meets all the requirements. If this is the case, they will register your company at the Crossroads Bank for Enterprises. You will receive a business number, which is the same as your VAT number. 

Step 5: Register with the VAT administration

 With the business number you received, you can register with the VAT administration office in your region. This can be done online (upon payment through the enterprise counter) or in person. 

Step 6: Register with social security

When establishing a company, you need to register yourself and your company with a social security fund for self-employed workers. You will also need a health insurance fund.

Which administrative duties do you have in Flanders?

Whether you have a one-man firm (eenmanszaak), a partnership (VOF or NV) or a Ltd. (BV), some administrative duties are still the same. Every company is legally obligated to do the following:

  • The administration of in- and outgoing invoices;
  • Retain their administration for a minimum of 5 years;
  • Tax declaration each month, each quarter or each year;
  • Personal tax declaration.

If you are the owner of a BV, you have to do some additional things as well:

  • Corporate sales tax declaration (vennootschapsbelastingaangifte);
  • Compile and deposit the annual tax statement.
tax declaration flanders

How to find the right bookkeeper or accountant in Flanders?

Do you need help finding a professional bookkeeper in Belgium for bookkeeping and/or preparing financial reports? Or perhaps your company needs an audit firm in Belgium?

At Boekhouderloket.be we believe in the strength of helping each other. Therefore, we connect dozens of entrepreneurs every day. We own a database of over 500 accounting firms in Belgium, including the metropolitan areas of Brussels and Antwerp. If you are still looking for a financial partner, someone who thinks along with you and delivers quality, you should definitely use the free service of Boekhouderloket.be. We can connect you with three fluent English-speaking accountants or bookkeepers in your region. Without obligation, you can have a meeting with all of them (in person or via online), to see if there is a match.  

We make sure all of them will fit your needs. 
Accountant or bookkeeper in Belgium? Just fill out the form below, or please contact us via the phone (+092 98 01 79) or e-mail (info@boekhouderloket.be). 

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