The questions and answers given below apply from 1st December 2019.

All companies (vendors, pharmacists, doctors, lawyers, etc.) must round the total amount payable in cash. However, this can only be applied to sales to individuals when the consumer is physically present at the time of payment (no distance sales for example).

Companies are free to choose whether or not to round payments made using methods other than cash. If they prefer to, they must round for all their individual customers, regardless of the payment method used.

The new rounding obligations affect all “companies” in the sense of Book VI of the Code of Economic Law, i.e. any natural or legal person who pursues a sustainable economic goal.

It is not just companies, in the usual sense of the word, that are required to round cash payments, but also the liberal professions and any individuals, associations, administrations, etc. that regularly engage in economic activities in relation to consumers.

Thus, a municipality that manages a swimming pool, library or cultural centre for example, will be considered as a “company” for this type of activity. However, this will not be the case when it collects fees for issuing an identity card, since this activity is part of its public service mission and is therefore not “economic” in nature.

Similarly, when associations regularly engage in an economic activity (selling products to consumers for example), they will be considered as a company. Whether or not an association is not-for-profit is irrelevant in this instance.

Sales between individuals are not affected by the mandatory rounding rules.

The company must round the total amount that the consumer pays in cash (coins and notes). 

So, the company does not round the price of each item.

If the consumer purchases a single item and pays in cash, the payment amount will be rounded, unless it is less than 5 cents. 

However, the company can only round for payments that are made when the customer is physically present. Distance or online sales are excluded.

Yes.

However, if a company rounds for payment methods other than cash, it must apply this to all payment methods it offers.

It must also inform its customers of this by visibly displaying the following text, at least in the official language of the region: The total amount is always rounded” (PDF, 492.02 KB).

Only coins and notes are considered as cash.

Payments using meal vouchers, eco-vouchers and gift vouchers cannot be rounded, even if the vendor has decided to round for payment methods other than cash.

No.

Rounding is not mandatory for bank transfers as this is not a cash payment. However, if a company decides to round for all payment methods, payments by bank transfer will have to be rounded when both the consumer and the company are physically present (via smartphone for example).

No.

Only the part you pay in cash (notes and coins) has to be rounded.

The company can extend rounding to payment methods other than cash, but in this case, it must do so for all payments made by its individual customers when they are present in the establishment. It is the company’s decision whether or not it rounds for all payment methods.

However, if it does so, it must clearly inform its customers of this by displaying the following text, at least in the official language of the region: The total amount is always rounded” (PDF, 492.02 KB).

Yes.

A company must also round the price of an item for which you are requesting the refund in cash.

No.

You cannot demand to pay the exact amount without rounding. Amounts paid in cash must always be rounded and this applies to all consumers.

This is unlikely.

Studies conducted by the Price Observatory and the National Bank of Belgium seem to indicate that the symmetric rounding will have little or no impact on inflation.

The Price Observatory will be responsible for checking whether this view is ultimately confirmed over the years following the application of mandatory rounding.

See:  
Consequences of Belgium introducing the principle of rounding up or down total amounts paid in shops to the nearest 5 cents.

A total amount payable in cash which ends in x.x1 euro or x.x2 euros is rounded down to x.x0 euro. Example: 12.92 euros becomes 12.90 euros.

A total amount payable in cash which ends in x.x3 euros or x.x4 euros is rounded up to x.x5 euro. Example: 12.93 euros becomes 12.95 euros.

A total amount payable in cash which ends in x.x6 euros or x.x7 euros is rounded down to x.x5 euro. Example: 12.97 euros becomes 12.95 euros.

A total amount payable in cash which ends in x.x8 euros or x.x9 euros is rounded up to x.(x+1)0 euro. Example: 12.98 euros becomes 13.00 euros.

Amount paid in cash ends in

Rounding

x.x1

x.x0

x.x2

x.x0

x.x3

x.x5

x.x4

x.x5

x.x5

x.x5

x.x6

x.x5

x.x7

x.x5

x.x8

x.(x+1)0

x.x9

x.(x+1)0

The rounding rule applies to all payments, regardless of whether they are for products or services purchased.

Yes.

The pharmacist is a business person like everyone else (vendors, doctors, lawyers, etc.). Therefore, the pharmacist must also round the total amount of the products that they sell to you and for which you pay in cash, without any distinction.

No.

Rounding can only be applied if the payment takes place when both the consumer and the company are physically present. This is not the case here.

The bank or bpost is not the recipient of the invoice amount, they are simply an intermediary between the consumer and the service provider (vendor) handling the payment of the sum due by bank transfer.

No.

Companies are legally required to round the amounts that you pay in cash. You are not entitled to stop them rounding the cash total of your sales receipt.

The same applies if a company has chosen to extend its rounding to payment methods other than cash.

It is the company alone that makes this decision and from that moment, it is applied to all payments made by consumers when they are present in the establishment. The company must inform its customers of this by visibly displaying the text The total amount is always rounded” (PDF, 492.02 KB) in its establishment, at least in the official language of the region.

However, rounding can only be applied to sales made when the customer is physically present. It is therefore not permitted for distance sales or online sales (e-commerce).

No.

One and two cent coins remain legal tender and will not be withdrawn.

You can still pay the rounded amount using 1 and 2 cent coins.

No.

One and two cent coins remain legal tender and will not be withdrawn.

So, you do not have to return them to the bank.

If you wish to do so, your banking advisor will assist you.

Bank notes and coins in euros can also be exchanged at the National Bank in Brussels.

See: Exchanging euro banknotes and coins

Yes.

The bank can charge you if you return coins.

Bank notes and coins in euros can also be exchanged at the National Bank in Brussels. 

See: Exchanging euro banknotes and coins

One and two cent coins will continue to be legal tender. The decision to withdraw coins from circulation is made at a European level.

No such decision has currently been made. The new rounding rules in force from 1st December 2019 will not change this.

No.

A company cannot stop you from paying using 1 and 2 cent coins.

However, no company is required to accept more than 50 coins in a single payment.

No.

It is never permitted to charge additional fees for cash payments.

Yes, as long as you do not pay with more than 50 coins. No company is required to accept more than 50 coins in a single payment.

Companies can still give you change using 1 and 2 cent coins.

You cannot refuse them. 

No.

Only cash payments relating to sales from a company (or similar) to a consumer (individual customer) are subject to the regulations on rounding.

One and two cent coins are very expensive to manufacture (raw material, minting, transport, etc.) and are very rarely used. Indeed, they are often left in purses or hoarded at home, which is why 1 and 2 cent coins constantly need to be minted.

The 2014 measure introducing the option to round sales receipts on a voluntary basis reduced the use of these 1 and 2 cent coins. However, it has not led to the desired result since the number of companies who round is still limited.

According to a study conducted in early 2018, only 3 out of 10 shopkeepers currently round. Similarly, it appears that 8 out of 10 retailers and 7 out of 10 consumers would be in favour of rounding.  The main trade organisations are also asking for mandatory rounding for cash payments.

By making rounding mandatory for all cash payments, the Belgian government hopes to reduce the number of 1 and 2 cent coins in circulation in our country. And by doing so, it intends to satisfy the expectations of most businesses and consumers.

It should be noted that Belgium is not permitted to decide to end the use of these 1 and 2 cent coins; only the European legislator can do that.

Last update
4 September 2019