Belgium introduced Value Added Tax in 1970, with the key rules encompassed in the Value Added Tax Code. There are also Royal and Ministry Decrees, which provide supplementary updates. The Ministry of Finance produces regular circulars and rulings which provide detailed guidance.
All of the above rules are based on the European Union’s VAT ‘laws’ (Directives). They cover the rules and process for Belgian VAT registration, compliance, returns, Intrastat and other related filings.
Should you register for Belgian VAT?
In common with the other 28 member states of the EU, Belgium requires foreign (non-resident) companies to register their foreign companies (not local branches or subsidiaries) for Belgian VAT in certain circumstances. This includes the provision of taxable goods in the following situations:
- Importing into Belgium. However, if the local customer is a Belgian VAT registered business, or the goods will move onwards from Belgium immediately, this can avoided.
- Buying and selling goods in Belgium if the customer is not Belgian VAT registered (if they are, then reverse charge applies, and no registration is required).
- Storing goods in Belgium prior to resale. Again, reverse charge exceptions apply if the customer if Belgian VAT registered.
- Holding live exhibitions, events or training in Belgium.
- If a company is otherwise a non-VAT trader, but is receiving services in Belgium under the reverse charge rule.
- The self supply of goods.
Since the 2010 VAT Package, there are very limited situations where providing services in Belgium required VAT registration by a foreign trader.
If you do need to VAT register, read our Belgian VAT registration briefing to understand the requirements, including any VAT registration thresholds that may apply.
There may be further exemptions from the requirement to VAT register in Belgium that you should consider. Please read our Belgian VAT Reverse Charge briefing.Click for free Belgian VAT info