Enterprise counters are the central contact point for start-ups and established companies to complete their administrative formalities.
If you start a business as a sole trader, you first need to go to a registered enterprise counter. For a company, the first step is the notary in most cases, followed by the filing of the articles of association with the registrar of the Commercial Court; to complete your registration in the Crossroads Bank for Enterprises, you then need to go to an enterprise counter.
Contacting an enterprise counter
There are currently eight registered enterprise counters. Together, the enterprise counters have around 156 local offices throughout Belgium. You can choose which enterprise counter you wish to use, where your business is based does not matter.
More information about enterprise counters and their offices.
The role of enterprise counters
Enterprise counters fulfil various roles:
- they check whether you meet the legal requirements to be allowed to carry out your intended activity;
- they take care of your (mandatory) registration with the Crossroads Bank for Enterprises;
- they can handle certain administrative formalities on your behalf, such as:
- taking care of your identification with the VAT administration or the NSSO;
- applying for various licences (FASFC, SABAM, etc.).
The counters also propose other services, such as:
- affiliation to a social insurance fund for the self-employed (each enterprise counter has an affiliated social insurance fund);
- affiliation to an affiliated social secretariat;
- advice on setting up your project;
- the drafting of dossiers for subsidy applications;
- support during the first months of activity, etc.
For these additional services, the counters are free to set their own rates.
Registration with the Crossroads Bank for Enterprises
The Crossroads Bank for Enterprises (CBE) is a database containing all basic identification data of registered entities (hereinafter referred to as entities) and their business units. Registered entities include all legal persons under Belgian law and natural persons exercising a professional activity on a self-employed basis.
The distinction between craft, trade and non-trade businesses governed by private law has been abolished since 1 November 2018. These capacities were replaced by the capacity “company subject to registration”.
Enterprise counters are obliged to immediately register the company with the CBE when the application is complete. If the application for registration is incorrect, incomplete or unwarranted, the enterprise counter will inform the applicant as quickly as possible and at the latest within five working days of the application.
Upon registration in the CBE, every entity receives a unique identification number, called a company number. The entity must use the company number in all contacts with the administrative or judicial authorities. For example, the company number is also used for identification with the VAT administration and the NSSO.
Every company subject to registration must always state the company number on all deeds, invoices, announcements, notices, letters, orders and other documents.
The market stalls used to perform the economic activity of the business subject to registration, as well as the means of transport, which is primarily used in the context of itinerant activities or, in the case of employers, in the context of a civil or utility construction activity or an activity cleaning the interior of buildings, must visibly display the company number.
Business unit number
Each business unit of an entity is also given a unique identification number. This business unit number is different from the company number.
A business unit is any place that can be geographically identified by an address, where at least one of the entity's activities is carried out or from which the activity is carried out (e.g. workshop, retail unit, warehouse, sales outlet, office, head office, registered office, agency, branch and subsidiary). This means that an entity with several business units also has several business unit numbers.
Businesses subject to registration must have their business units registered with the CBE by a registered enterprise counter. However, they can change the address of their business units themselves, free of charge, via the application "My Enterprise". On the other hand, non-profit associations can enter, modify and terminate the data of their business unit themselves via the same application.
Registration as a sole trader
After your entrepreneurial skills have been verified (if necessary), the enterprise counter will register your registered entity as a natural person enterprise in the Crossroads Bank for Enterprises. You will be given a company number in this regard.
If your registered entity natural person does not meet the conditions, or if a compulsory document is missing, the enterprise counter will refuse the registration. The counter needs to justify the refusal. You can submit a new application that does meet the required conditions or lodge an appeal with the Enterprise Council of the competent region.
Bear in mind that it is the professional organisation (order, institute or chamber) to which you are affiliated which in certain cases is responsible for the task of verifying whether you meet the conditions to exercise the profession in question and which, if you meet the conditions, enters the granted admission in the CBE.
Registration costs 89.50 euro, including one business unit, plus 89.50 euro per additional business unit. This is the price since the start of 2020, but it is adjusted annually in line with the index.
Registration of a company
Companies are registered with the Crossroads Bank for Enterprises when the deed of incorporation is filed (electronically or at the Registrar of the Commercial Court). They will receive their company number at that point. Subsequently, the company needs to go to an enterprise counter in order to have its capacity as a business subject to registration recorded with the CBE.
Companies without legal personality must contact an enterprise counter where both the registration in the CBE and the registration of the capacity as a business subject to registration can be done.
The enterprise counter may refuse to register your entity if it does not meet the conditions for access to the profession to which it is subject, as the case may be, or if a mandatory document is missing. Refusal must always be justified. In the event of refusal of registration as a business subject to registration by the enterprise counter, you can lodge an appeal with the Enterprise Council of the competent region.
If this procedure is not free, the registration costs 89.50 euro, including one business unit, plus 89.50 euro per additional business unit. This is the price since the start of 2020, but it is adjusted annually in line with the index.
In addition to the capacity of business subject to registration and the business units, the enterprise counter also records other details, such as the business' activities and bank account numbers.
Registration of foreign entities in the CBE
If a foreign entity wishes to carry out activities and set up in Belgium, it has several options: it can set up a branch, a subsidiary or a business unit.
From a legal perspective, a branch within the meaning of the Companies Code is not a separate entity of the company. The branch and the foreign entity are one and the same entity.
An entity with a branch in Belgium, if it does not yet have one, will receive its company number from the registrar of the competent commercial court, when the branch is opened.
It must then go to an enterprise counter of its choice in order to register as a business subject to registration.
From a legal perspective, this is a separate entity from the foreign entity, with its own legal personality (different from that of the branch). In such cases, the legal form opted for is a Belgian legal form.
The branch established in Belgium is given a company number by the notary or the registrar of the commercial court upon registration in the CBE. It must then go to an enterprise counter of its choice in order to register as a business subject to registration.
Foreign entities may operate from an address in Belgium without having to set up a branch or subsidiary. In such cases, they will exercise their activities in Belgium via a business unit (e.g. workshops, factories, retail units, sales outlets, offices, etc.; for more information see point 3.2.1).
An entity with only one business unit in Belgium will receive its company number from the enterprise counter upon registration of that business unit in the CBE.
What if certain details change?
In the event of changes (new address of the business unit, telephone number, activity, etc.), you have one month to modify your registration as a business subject to registration. Moreover, you are responsible for the accuracy of the details registered with the CBE.
These modifications can be made either via an enterprise counter or (in certain cases) via the "My Enterprise" application, 24 hours a day and free of charge.
Bear in mind that the "My Enterprise" application can be used to look up the service to be contacted when your details have changed.
Economic activity - NACE code
When registering activities in the Crossroads Bank for Enterprises, the enterprise counters use NACE codes.
However, the enterprise counters may have difficulty in selecting the correct NACE code for specific activities. In such cases, they will contact the FPS Economy, which will advise them on the codes to be used.
Or perform a search using the Nacebel code search engine: