In Belgium, a non-profit organisation can be registered under the legal identity of an Association. It is called an ASBL – Association sans but lucratif in French or VZW – Vereniging zonder winstoogmerk in Dutch.
In order to set up a non-profit organisation in a form of an ASBL in Belgium, one needs to:
- Draw up the statues of the Association
- Gather identity documents from the founders
- Prepare court forms
- Hold a Constitutive General Assembly with the founding members
- Deposit the signed statutes, together with the forms and documents at the Tribunal de l’Entreprise
- Open a dedicated bank account
- Fill in the UBO register (Le Registre UBO – Ultimate Beneficial Owner)
- Fulfil the VAT registration obligations
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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 and time needed for the registration.
The founding members must draw up the statutes of the organisation in one of the official languages in Belgium. This document details the non-profit purpose and aims of the organisation, its main activities and it sets up the basic rules of its governance. The provisions of this document must be in line with the Belgian law on non-profit organisations (Code des Sociétés et des Associations – Code of Companies and Associations).
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.
The statues must be signed by all the founders, during the Constitutive General Assembly.
Registration in court
For the court registration, the following documents must be submitted to the Tribunal de L’Entreprise:
- the signed statutes
- copies of the founders’ identity documents
- a court form for the registration of an ASBL
- 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 electronically (online via e-greffe), using a Belgian identity card, or the file can be deposited in the paper form at the Tribunal de l’Entreprise.
A registration fee needs to be paid at the time of registration:
- if depositing the documents on paper, a proof of payment must be attached
- if depositing via e-greffe, the registration payment is carried out at the end of the procedure with a bank or credit card.
The Association 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 approximatelly 5 working days to process an electronic registration and up 7 weeks to process the registration in a paper form.
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. 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 assigned by the Banque-Carrefour des Entreprises and emailed by the system immediately.
Opening a bank account
It is obligatory to open a separate bank account of the Association 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. Alternatively it is possible to apply for a simplified VAT regime (Régime de franchise de la taxe pour les petites entreprises). For this, 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 and declare the type of the VAT regime i.e. full, mixed or exempted.