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 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 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.
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.
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.
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.