Foreign companies that conduct VAT taxable operations within the Belgian territory are, in principle, liable to register themselves for VAT purposes in Belgium and therefore held to comply with the Belgian VAT formalities in a same way as Belgian companies do.

The following VAT taxable operations when performed in Belgium do, in most cases, trigger a mandatory VAT registration in the hands of the foreign company:

  • The importation of tangible goods;
  • The rendering of construction services and, more in particular, all kind of services that are sufficiently linked to an immovable good (e.g. architecture services, building surveillance and security services, hotel services, etc.);
  • The granting of admission fees to an event;
  • The intracommunity acquisition of goods in Belgium (i.e. goods that are dispatched as from another Member State to Belgium);
  • The supply of goods that are physically located in Belgium;

Nevertheless, the Belgian VAT authorities do foresee specific situations where it relieves the foreign company from the obligation to register for VAT in Belgium.

Hence, only an in-depth analysis of the foreign company’s Belgian VAT situation can provide a confirmation on the latter’s VAT compliance obligations in Belgium.

VAT identification with designation of a VAT representative

In principle, only non-EU companies have the obligation to appoint a VAT representative when registering for VAT in Belgium, whereas an EU established company can apply for a VAT number directly without having to appoint a VAT representative.

A VAT representative is held jointly liable for all eventual VAT debts, penalties and interest resulting from the activities that the foreign company would conduct in Belgium.

In the framework of Belgian VAT identification with designation of a VAT representative, a proof of solvability has to be delivered by the VAT representative, notably, as to show that the company disposes of a sufficient financial capacity in order to pay any VAT due that would result from the activities conducted Belgium.

Usually, such proof of solvability is delivered under the form of a so-called bank guarantee i.e. a document issued by a Belgian established financial institution according to which the latter confirms to provide the surety within a maximum amount.

Please note that EU established company may as well appoint a VAT representative, which would, in certain cases, even be recommended in view of the application of the general reverse charge mechanism aimed in article 194 of the VAT directive on the sales of goods/services performed by non-established subcontractors.

Belgian VAT incurred in the framework of the activities conducted in Belgium

The foreign company will be able to recover the Belgian VAT charged by its suppliers/service providers to the extent the acquired goods/services are used for the purposes of its VAT taxable activity.

The so-called right of VAT deduction has to be exercised in the Belgian VAT return where the VAT deductible amounts will be offset with any Belgian VAT due resulting from the VAT taxable activities.

Our services

Our profound VAT knowledge and expertise allows us to provide in a clear language an overview of the foreign company’s Belgian VAT situation, providing as well the potential VAT optimisations that would benefit to the latter.

Our firm can help you with the following formalities:

  • Preliminary VAT analysis: advice and optimisation
  • Applying for specific VAT regimes (i.e. Import VAT deferral licence, Monthly VAT reimbursement licence, other);
  • Applying for a particular regime with the Central Office for Foreign Companies when appropriate;
  • Filing of the VAT number application file (with or without designation of a VAT representative;
  • Acting as a VAT representative for both EU and Non-EU companies
  • Keeping of a VAT accounting pursuant to the Belgian legal requirements;
  • Establishment and submission of the periodical VAT returns;
  • Establishment and submission of the intra community sales list;
  • Establishment and submission of the annual client list;
  • Establishment and submission of Intrastat returns.