Any natural person who exercises a professional activity in Belgium without being bound by an employment contract or status is considered as a "self-employed person". This means that there is no subordinate relationship.
As a self-employed person, you benefit from your own social status and a specific social security regime. As such, you are required to join a social insurance fund for self-employed persons of your choice and pay quarterly social security contributions.
Affiliation with a Social Insurance Fund for the Self-Employed
Affiliation as a Self-Employed Person
As a self-employed person, you are required to join the social insurance fund for self-employed persons of your choosing. This obligation also applies to people who are self-employed as their side activity.
You must complete your affiliation before actual start of your self-employed activity.
Failure to meet the deadline will prompt the National Institute for the Social Security of the Self-employed (NISSE) to ask you to regularise your situation. Neglecting this procedural requirement will result in automatic affiliation withthe National Auxiliary Fund for the Self-Employed.
In cases of non-compliance, administrative fines may be imposed.
When applying for affiliation, non-EU nationals must be in possession of a professional card (which can be issued via the Belgian diplomatic or consular post in your country of residence or the enterprise counter of your choice).
Affiliation as a Company
If you set up a company, you must also register it with a social insurance fund for the self-employed (even though you are already registered with it for your own account) within three months of setting up the company. You will then be required to pay an annual contribution to the social status for self-employed persons.
Payment of Social Contributions
As a self-employed person, you have to pay social security contributions to your social insurance fund. However, there are specific circumstances under which certain taxpayers are not required to pay social security contributions (people self-employed as a side activity, pensioners, students, etc.).
For newly established self-employed persons whose primary activity is self-employment and who have no prior experience in self-employment or have been out of self-employment for over five years, you also have the possibility during the first four quarters of your activity to benefit from a reduced contribution scheme "primo starter", under certain conditions.
You can also benefit from this scheme if you return to self-employment after a period of incapacity or disability.
If you are a self-employed artist just starting out, the reduced contribution scheme is extended from four to eight quarters if you meet the eligibility requirements.
Social security contributions are calculated in two phases:
- in the contribution year itself, a provisional contribution is levied on the basis of the professional income of a self-employed person from three years ago. At the start of each quarter (in January, April, July and October), you will receive a notice of due date from your social insurance fund stating the amount of the provisional quarterly contribution due;
- As soon as the tax authorities determined your final professional income (in principle two years later), the social insurance fund will draw up a final statement of social security contributions based on your professional income in the contribution year.
What About Starters?
As a starter, you do not have a base year. Your provisional contributions are therefore calculated on the basis of an income that you provide yourself or on the basis of a statutory minimum.
Estimating Your Income
It is possible that the amount of your professional income three years ago does not align with your current earnings. Based on your contribution payment request, you should estimate your current self-employed income and compare it with your income from three years ago.
Depending on the result, there are three possible scenarios:
- If your income remained more or less stable or you have difficulty estimating its evolution, you should pay the contribution as indicated on the contribution payment request;
- If you believe that your current income is higher than that of three years ago, you will need to you pay more contributions;
- If you find that your current income is lower than it was three years ago, you may then be able to get a reduction on the basis of the income you have estimated for the year in question.. You must, however, provide supporting documents to your social insurance fund that your income fell or will fall during the contribution year concerned, as it must give its approval.
Please note! If, at the time of the final statement of contributions, your income is higher than the applicable threshold, the contributions still due will be increased accordingly.
As soon as the social insurance fund is aware of the final annual income, it sends a final statement with the final amount of contributions. If you paid less, you will be charged extra. If you overpaid contributions, you will be refunded.
No increase is applied to the contributions still due, except for a self-employed person who unduly obtained a reduction.
For more information on the social status of self-employed workers and their rights and obligations, please contact the following bodies:Federal Public Service Social Security
Directorate-General Legal expertise (self-employed) - Expertise juridique (Travailleurs indépendants)
Administrative Centre Botanique
Boulevard du Jardin Botanique, 50 bte 135
Quai de Willebroeck, 35