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How to set up a non-profit organisation in Belgium? - European Activism Incubator
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How to set up a non-profit organisation in Belgium?

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.

Basic requirements

 

To set up an ASBL / VZW in Belgium one needs:

  • At least two 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 Statutes

 

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 the Tribunal de L’Entreprise:

  • 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 the statues is in line with the Belgian law and all documents and forms are submitted correctly, it takes the Tribunal de L’Entreprise between 5 working days and 7 weeks to process the registrations.

  • How much does it cost to register an ASBL / VZW in Belgium?
  • The fee covers the registration and publication of the constituting acts in the official public system called Moniteur Belge.
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    How much it costs depends on how you deposit your file. It is higher for those who do not have access to the electronic public system with a Belgian ID – they need to file on paper directly at the Tribunal de l’Entreprise.

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    Fees since March 2020 are:

    • Paper registration:                            €197,11
    • Electronic registration                     €142,42

Registration at Banque-Carrefour

 

Currently, this registration is carried out automatically. When registering electronically, the organisation number is automatically assigned by the Banque-Carrefour des Entreprises and emailed by the system.

Opening a bank account

 

It is obligatory and necessary for taxation purposes to open a separate bank account for the organisation in a Belgian banking institution. Yearly fees for running a back account for a legal person can vary between €15 and €115 per year.

VAT registration

 

A newly set up ASBL / VZW needs to be registered as a VAT payer, based on its planned activities and sources of revenue, or alternatively apply for a simplified VAT regime. A separate registration form needs to be filed with the Belgian tax authorities.

 

When registering for the 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.

European Activism Incubator offers affordable support with the process of setting up a non-profit (ASBL/ VZW) in Belgium.

 

Contact us to schedule a phone call for a free assessment to receive a quote for this service.

6 Comments

  • NIck Kuskin

    18.02.2020 at 17:46 Reply

    verry interesting… May I ask your opinion, as I know you, and I’m having a hard time determining if I should register for VAT? I see VAT as nothing but a hassle. Is there any reason whatsoever to pay it? Any reason not to try and be exempt in all cases? I see the income my asbl will collect will be a) sales from prints. B) grants (if I’m fortunate and lucky, and c) small consulting engagements. Thoughts – coffee?

    • EAI services

      24.02.2020 at 19:25 Reply

      Hi Nick, nice of you to drop by here 🙂

      Only chartered accountants can give you a complete accounting advice. To my best knowledge small entreprises and organisations in Belgium are eligible for ‘Régime de franchise de la taxe’, when their annual turnover does not exceed 25.000 euros. The European Activism Incubator is currently under this regime and this simplifies administration and accounting of our ASBL. If you are eligible and you do not have any specific reason to become a full VAT payer from the start, this simplified regime may be a good solution for you as well.

      However, you still have to register for it! In other words one has to ‘say hello’ to the VAT tax authorities either way. If you have recently registered an ASBL, you can request the simplified regime as you request a VAT number for the ASBL.

      You can read more on ‘Régime de franchise de la taxe pour les petites entreprises’ here: https://finances.belgium.be/fr/entreprises/tva/assujettissement_a_la_tva/regime_franchise_de_la_taxe#q3

      I hope it helps! And yes, let’s get in touch via WhatsApp with regards to that coffee 🙂

  • Shabari Mitra

    03.03.2020 at 20:23 Reply

    I have vzw which is also VAT registered. I have a doubt , if any corporate firm or individual donate us will they be tax exempted of that amount?
    Our activities are related to culture,
    heritage,environmentt, training etc.

    • EAI services

      30.03.2020 at 13:02 Reply

      Hi Shabari,
      For such detailed questions as donor VAT exemptions on donations, it is best to get a comprehensive advice from a Belgian accountancy firm. We provide administrative support to people wishing to set up an ASBL, but only a chartered accountant can give you an advice on such specific matters. We hope you find what you are looking for!

  • Abdullah Hallak

    28.03.2020 at 15:50 Reply

    Hello All
    we have an NGO located and registered in Turkey and we are seeking detting it redistered here in Belguim also .
    Ist that possible ?

    thnaks
    Abdullah

    • EAI services

      30.03.2020 at 13:00 Reply

      Hi Abdullah,
      Yes it is possible to register it in Belgium. The founding members do not have to be Belgian citizens, residents or organisation. However, you need to have the main office registered at an address in Belgium.

      The registration is more complicated for the associations whose founding members are not Belgian residents or Belgian organisations – as one has to file a range of documents in the court – but it is doable.

      It is important to note that once you register, you will need to carry out your accountancy according to the Belgian rules and you need to file your tax declarations as required here. We recommend that you have a Belgian accountant to help you with managing that. You also need to follow the administrative rules. At the minimum this means that each year you need to file in the court the annual accounts; also such things as any changes in the Board of Directors need to be registered and filed accordingly.

      In other words, the non-profit would become a Belgian entity and you have to follow the law of Belgium. A certain level of organisational capacity is needed to fulfil these requirements, so we recommend to consider this carefully. But it is all possible.

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