Reverse charge in Belgium
Reverse charge for non-established suppliers in Belgium
According to art 194 of the VAT Directive, Member States may implement an optional reverse charge on supplies made by non-established businesses. Belgium has introduced an extended version of this regime.
Where a non-established supplier sells goods or services (only services within the B2B exception) to a client established in Belgium or registered via a Belgian fiscal representative, domestic reverse charge applies. It is not relevant if the supplier is registered or not. Regarding the customer, it must have a permanent establishment or be registered via fiscal representative. If the customer is registered directly for VAT purposes, reverse charge does not apply.
Regarding the reference on the invoice, supplies falling under the reverse charge mechanism can include the following wording: "Autoliquidation – Art 51 § 2, 5°"
Not established in Belgium
(irrelevant if the supplier is registered or not for VAT)
Taxable person with a permanent establishment in Belgium; or
Registered via fiscal representative
All supplies of goods
Supplies of services located in Belgium (exceptions to the B2B rule)
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Reverse charge in B2B services in Belgium
Article 196 of the VAT Directive requires the reverse charge mechanism on all services subject to the B2B rule introduced in art. 44 of the same Directive. The B2B rule locates the transaction where the business customer is located. In case the customer is a private individual, B2C rules locate the transaction where the supplier is located.
According to the general B2B rule, any business not established in Belgium supplying services to a Belgian registered customer will not charge any VAT and the transaction will be reverse charged by the customer.
There are however a number of exceptions to this rule. Where these exceptions apply, reverse charge is still applicable in Belgium:
- Services connected to immoveable property are located where the property is located
- Passenger transport services will be located where the transport takes places (apportioned if necessary)
- Catering services are located where the catering takes place
- Short term leasing of means of transport are located where the vehicle put at the disposal of the customer
- Access to conferences, fairs and exhibitions is located where the event takes place
Belgian reverse charge on specific goods
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 above the threshold also require a VAT number. See Belgian distance sales rules for more information
A voluntary registration is not possible in Belgium. This is, companies cannot register if they have not made a taxable transaction.
The VAT registration threshold in Belgium only applies to local established companies.