Belgium’s capital is sometimes called capital of Europe, as Brussels is the host city for a number of the European Union and NATO institutions.
According to the World Bank’s 2016 Doing Business rankings, Belgium ranked first in the world for Trading Across Borders. It also ranked 10th in the world for Resolving Insolvency. The rankings also recognised reforms enacted by Belgium to make doing business easier in the country. This included making transfer of property easier by introducing electronic property registration.
Key facts about starting a business in Belgium:
While investing in Belgium is a transparent and straightforward process, it is important to understand the nuances of any local regime. The manner in which people conduct business in Belgium may differ from the home countries of investors. Furthermore, variations on these distinctions may exist in different regions of Belgium and the industry in which a company operates.
Belgium has three official languages: German, French and Dutch. Flemish, which is the local dialect of Dutch, is spoken by the majority of the population, predominantly in the North.
Punctuality is critical when conducting business in Belgium. Business attire is typically conservative; nevertheless, this may vary across different industries.
A handshake is the typical greeting for a new introduction and business cards may be exchanged after initial introductions. Gift giving is not expected in Belgian business culture.
Those looking to establish a business in Belgium will often look to countries across the European Union (EU) as alternative options. While membership of the EU ensures parity in many aspects of the legal, tax and audit regimes, Belgium can be differentiated on the following factors:
Although there are many benefits of investing in Belgium, foreign investors should remain aware of potential challenges. Belgium is an export-driven economy and is therefore highly vulnerable to fluctuations in global trade flows. The government has also acknowledged that reforms are required to improve the competitiveness of the economy. This includes reforms in the labour market where costs are particularly high; hourly labour costs are the second highest in the EU, behind only Denmark.
This guide has been developed to provide businesses with an overview of Belgium, its legal regime, start-up and market entry considerations, tax and customs requirements and a general summary of the factors that may affect the decision to do business in Belgium. However, the information contained in this document is generic in nature and you should not act or rely on it without obtaining specific professional advice.
Please note that the Country Guides may only be available in English.
|1||Ministry of Finance|
|2||Ministry of Economic Affairs|
|5||Benelux Office for Intellectual Property|
|6||Invest in Belgium|
|7||Employment, Labour and Social Dialogue|
|2||World Bank Rankings|
Download Country Guide - Belgium (3.25MB, PDF)
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