VAT obligation

VAT obligation

  • Should my business register for VAT ?

    A business established in Belgium must register for VAT if it is subject to VAT.

    A Belgian (or non-Belgian) business is liable for VAT if its activity is the supply of goods or services as set out in the Belgian VAT Code. Liability for Belgian VAT applies as follows:

    • where the supply is on a regular basis;
    • where the supply is on an independent basis;
    • regardless of whether the supply is for profit;
    • regardless of whether the supply is the business’s main or secondary activity;
    • regardless of the place where the economic activity is carried out.

    If the business’s only activities are exempt from VAT (e.g. certain socio-cultural activities, financial transactions, transactions in the medical sector), and the business therefore does not have a right of deduction, then the business is not required to register.

    It does not have to charge VAT to its customers (Article 44 of the Belgian VAT Code).

    However, if this type of business is required to account for Belgian VAT on intra-Community acquisitions of goods or on intra-Community supplies of services, it is required to register for VAT.

    Non-Belgian companies (i.e. companies whose domicile or registered office is outside Belgium and which do not have a permanent establishment in Belgium) must also register for VAT if they carry out transactions in Belgium on which they themselves have to pay the VAT in Belgium and for which they are therefore also granted a right of deduction.

  • When is my business exempt from charging VAT?

    Your business is exempt from charging VAT if it:

    • performs only exempted activities (for example socio-cultural, financial and medical activities), or
    • is registered under the VAT exemption scheme for small businesses.

    In both these cases, you must not charge VAT to your customers. Where you also perform taxable activities in addition to exempted activities, you only need to charge VAT for these taxable activities.

  • What products and services are exempt from VAT?

    Exemptions in accordance with Article 44

    Specific products and services are exempt from VAT in accordance with Article 44 of the Belgian VAT Code. If your business only performs these activities, you do not need to request a VAT number.

    The most common exemptions:

    • non-aesthetic medical activities performed by doctors, dentists or physiotherapists
    • activities performed by midwives, healthcare assistants and nurses
    • activities performed by approved and regulated paramedical professions
      • e.g. dieticians, speech therapists, chiropodists, etc.
    • specific socio-cultural activities
      • hospital care and medical assistance
      • transport of sick or injured persons using vehicles that are specially equipped for this purpose
      • care for the elderly
      • youth welfare
      • care for the disabled
      • health insurance fund activities
      • educational activities
      • loan of books, newspapers and other cultural objects (libraries)
      • organising exhibitions, concerts and theatre, ballet and film performances
    • sale, rental and leasing of immoveable property
    • insurance activities
    • financial activities, e.g. granting of credit

    The exemptions are often subject to specific conditions, for example government recognition, non-profit-making, etc.

    The full list of exempted activities in accordance with Article 44 and any applicable conditions can be found on Fisconet.

    Special relief

    Special relief is also available for supplies or the provision of services to international institutions, embassies, etc.