In Belgium, activities with a social purpose can be carried out under the legal identity of a non-profit organisation, which is an association. Such non-profit organisation is called ASBL (association sans but lucrative) in French or VZW (vereniging zonder winstoogmerk) in Dutch.
To set up an ASBL / VZW in Belgium one needs:
- At least three founding members (physical or legal persons)
- A seat of the organisation (address) in Belgium
The founding members do not need to be citizens or residents of Belgium, but this will increase the costs of registration and yearly bank account costs.
The founding members must draw up the statutes of the organisation in one of the official languages in Belgium. This document will detail the social purposes of the organisation, its main activities and set up the basic rules for its governance. The provision of this document must be in line with the Belgian law on non-profit organisations.
This document will determine how the organisation operates, including such issues as how it admits new members or how it appoints its Directors. Changes to the statutes at a later date are possible but there are procedures and costs associated with these.
Registration in court
For registering the organisation, the following three documents must be submitted to Tribunal de Commerce:
- the signed statutes together with the copies of founders’ identity cards
- a registration form
- an attestation for the person carrying out a registration, demonstrating s/he is mandated to do so.
The process of registration can be carried out online, using a Belgian identity card.
A registration fee needs to be paid at the time of registration.
The ASBL / VZW is registered when information on its founding is published in Moniteur Belge. Providing no issues are discovered with the submitted documents, this should be processed within 5 working days.
How much does it cost to register an ASBL / VZW in Belgium?
- Paper registration: €162,10 + 21% VAT = €196,14
- Electronic registration €117,10 + 21% VAT = €141,69
- Modification of statutes €109,90 + 21% VAT = €132,98
Registration at Banque-Carrefour
Currently, this registration takes place automatically. When registering electronically, the organisation number assigned by the Banque-Carrefour des Entreprises is emailed automatically by the system.
Opening a bank account
It is obligatory and necessary for taxation purposes to open a separate bank for the organisation. Yearly feeds for running such back account can vary between €15 and €115 per year.
It is important to assess if the newly set up ASBL / VZW should be registered as a VAT payer, based on its planned activities and sources of revenue. If VAT registration is considered advantageous to the organisation, a separate registration needs to filed with the Belgian tax authorities.
When registering for VAT, the organisation must also decide if it is preferable to do VAT declarations every month or every three months. The registration process also requires a declaration on the type of the VAT regime i.e. full, mixed or exempted.