VAT registrations and simplifications in Belgium
VAT number Belgium
As a general rule, a foreign business must register for VAT in Belgium as soon as a taxable supply is made. The following are some usual examples of taxable transactions:
- Domestic supply of goods not reverse charged: A supply of goods located in Belgium to a Belgian customer where the supply is not subject to reverse charge requires a VAT registration of the supplier. See Reverse charge rules in Belgium for more information
- Supply of services not reverse charged: Foreign non-established businesses supplying services on which Belgian VAT is due must register for VAT. These services are rather exceptional, as the general B2B rule would apply
- Export: Exporting goods to a non-EU country requires a VAT number before the export is made
- Intra-Community acquisition: Acquiring goods from another Member State where all conditions for intra-Community movements are met requires the customer to register for VAT
- Intra-Community supply: Supplying goods another Member State is also a taxable transaction that obliges the supplier to register for VAT
- Distance sales: When applicable, in case the Seller has not joined OSS. See the E-commerce manual for more information.
A voluntary registration is not possible in Belgium. This is, companies cannot register if they have not made a taxable transaction or plan to make it soon. The only exceptions to this rule would be these two cases:
- Foreign companies performing works related to immovable property in Belgium subject to the specific reverse charge on construction work.
- Foreign EU companies supplying other types of services or goods subject to reverse charge in Belgium, when the annual input VAT amount paid exceeds EUR 10,000.
There is no VAT registration threshold in Belgium. It is only possible for small established companies to benefit from the VAT exemption scheme when their annual turnover does not exceed EUR 25,000 and all other conditions are met. Find more information here about this special scheme.
A backdated registration is possible in Belgium. Such backdated registration is required when a business applies for a Belgian VAT number late. In this case, all the VAT returns and VAT payments since the registration date are due.
Have a look here at the official information about VAT regimes and VAT registration obligation in Belgium.
Input VAT incurred before the VAT registration may be deductible concerning purchases of goods or services directly related to the economic activity (not for private use). Input tax deduction may be allowed when the time passed since the expenses and the VAT registration is reasonable. In case a foreign business is willing to deduct VAT incurred while not VAT registered, normally , a retroactive VAT registration is required. In case no taxable transactions took place during the year on which input VAT was incurred by the foreign business, such VAT shall be recovered via the EU VAT refund mechanism or 13th Directive.
Find here more information about the Belgian VAT registration process and forms.
Belgian Vat Number Format
- Country code: BE
- Structure: BE0999999999 or or BE1999999999
- Format (excludes 2 letter alpha prefix): 1 block of 10 digits
Fiscal representative in Belgium (requirements)
Non-EU businesses must appoint a Belgian fiscal representative when registering for VAT purposes in Belgium. The fiscal representative is jointly and severally liable for the tax debts of the company. The fiscal representative must be a Belgian resident, either a legal or physical person. Often multinational companies appoint another member of the group to act as fiscal representative of a non-established company in Belgium.
EU businesses can register directly for VAT purposes. This means that the legal representative of the company can sign the registration form without any local Belgian involvement. Also, UK companies are exempted from the fiscal representation requirement, even though they are not part of the EU after Brexit.
Marosa acts as your fiscal representative in Belgium via our entity MAROSA BELGIUM SARL. Contact our team to get more information about how to centralize all your fiscal representation needs with Marosa as your single solution in Europe .
Belgian VAT groups
Where more than one taxable person established in Belgium are closely bound by financial, economic and organizational links, these companies can create a VAT group and be treated as a single taxable person for VAT purposes in Belgium. As regards the VAT group criteria, financial links exist when more than 10% of the shares of a member is directly or indirectly held by the same person or business. Organizational links refer to the common management of different members. Economic links exist where the purpose and activity of the members has the same object and goal and benefits the group as a whole. In addition, the following VAT grouping rules apply in Belgium:
- Permanent establishments and subsidiaries can also be part of a Belgian VAT group.
- VAT grouping is optional in Belgium. Companies can apply for a VAT group when meeting the requirements or they can choose to remain separated entities for VAT purposes.
- Once the application is approved, a group VAT number is granted to the group. In addition, each individual entity keeps its own VAT number.
- Holding companies are normally not allowed to be part of a VAT group. However, this rule must be read in conjunction with Case C-85/11
- Intra-group transactions are normally disregarded for VAT purposes.
- Every member of the group is jointly and severally liable for the VAT debts of the entire group.
- The minimum time period for a VAT group is three years.
- Members of a VAT group submit one single consolidated VAT return. It is not possible to file separate VAT returns for each entity. On the contrary, separate ECSL returns are filed for each member using its own VAT number.
Belgian consignment and call-off stock
The EU introduced an EU wide simplification for call-off stock scenarios that all EU Member States must implement. This simplification allows businesses to operate under a consignment stock structure without having to VAT register in the destination country. Belgium has implemented this simplification,
This article explains the wide EU call-off stock simplification
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Bad debt relief in Belgium
It is possible to reclaim VAT on bad debts in Belgium. The process is however not as simple as in other EU countries. The possibility to include this VAT as input VAT in the return only arises in the following cases:
- In case of bankruptcy of the customer, input VAT can be directly deducted as from the date of the closure of the bankruptcy.
- However, the administration admitted that the liquidator appointed to manage the bad debts of the customer could determine which invoices cannot be paid, and based on that assessment, issue a certificate allowing the company to recover the VAT paid to the authorities on the unpaid invoices. This allows the taxpayer to recover the VAT amount recognized on this certificate before the closure of the bankruptcy procedure.
- Also, in case of other proceedings such as debt reorganization by the judge, the right to deduct arises when the Court decision is made.
Bad debt is regulated in Article 77 of the Belgian VAT Code. Also, more information is available in the Circular AFZ 12/2005 of 11 July 2005.
Import VAT deferral and postponed import VAT in Belgium
Import VAT deferral allows companies to delay the payment of import VAT. Although import VAT is usually due at the time of importation, when import VAT deferral is allowed, this import VAT is due at a later stage (usually, between 4 and 10 weeks after importing the goods). Postponed import VAT accounting allows companies to avoid the payment of import VAT by declaring this amount as due and deductible in the VAT return. This system has a nil monetary effect for companies (unless partial exemption applies) and a cash flow advantage when importing goods into the country.
Belgium introduced the postponed import VAT accounting. Deferral of import VAT does not apply in Belgium. Businesses can apply for a postponed import VAT accounting license to the Belgian tax authorities. This application is open to non-established companies registered directly or via fiscal representative. Postponed import VAT accounting is often referred as "ET 14000 license". Normally, to benefit from this simplification, taxpayers will need to prove they made importations with VAT due in Belgium. More information is available in the notice published by the Belgian tax authorities about Postponed import VAT accounting.
Belgian customs warehouse and VAT warehouse
Customs or bonded warehouse is available for goods that have not cleared customs in the EU (T1). VAT and excise duties are not due when these goods are directly placed in the Customs warehouse. As soon as they exit this regime, these amounts are due. Sales within the customs warehouse are not subject to VAT. In case the goods are removed from a Customs warehouse to be placed in another customs regime, VAT is not due until the goods are released from the following warehouse.
A VAT warehousing regime is available in Belgium for cleared goods (T2). These goods have already paid customs duties. The conditions are similar to those of Customs warehouses. Only certain goods are allowed to be entered into a VAT warehouse in Belgium.
Global VAT numbers – Belgian limited fiscal representation
Global VAT numbers, also known as freight forward VAT numbers or limited fiscal representation are allowed in Belgium. Global VAT numbers normally start by BE796.6 Global VAT numbers avoid the need for a VAT registration in Belgium. A business can use the VAT number of the representative, who will subsequently submit a consolidated VAT return with all transactions made by his clients. These numbers can only be used for certain transactions.
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