Knowledge Base: E-commerce Accounting and VAT Compliance

VAT in Belgium: Guidelines for e-commerce entrepreneurs

VAT in Belgium: Practical guidelines for e-commerce entrepreneurs

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Date04 Jul 2024
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In today’s global e-commerce landscape, expanding into new markets is a common strategic move for online sellers. Belgium, with its dynamic economy and growing online consumer base, has become an attractive destination for many businesses. However, to successfully operate in this market, understanding and adhering to the applicable tax regulations, particularly VAT rules, is crucial.

The Value Added Tax (VAT) is a fundamental component of Belgium’s tax system and significantly impacts e-commerce activities. Incorrect VAT calculation can lead to severe financial and legal repercussions. Therefore, it is essential for online sellers to be well-informed and prepared to meet their tax obligations.

In this article, we will explore the Belgian VAT regulations in the context of e-commerce. We will discuss the basic principles of VAT registration, tax rates, invoicing requirements, and filing deadlines. Our goal is to provide online sellers with practical tips and tools to avoid mistakes and efficiently manage their VAT responsibilities.


VAT rates in Belgium

The standard VAT rate in Belgium is 21%, applied to all goods and services that do not fall under the reduced rates of 12% and 6%.

12% – First reduced VAT rate
This rate applies to:

  • Selected food products,
  • Certain agricultural products,
  • Restaurant and catering services (excluding beverages),
  • Specific social housing projects,
  • Energy materials such as coal and lignite, and coke.

6% – Second Reduced VAT Rate
This rate covers:

  • Takeaway food and non-alcoholic beverages,
  • Books, magazines, and tickets to cultural events,
  • Works of art, antiques, and collectibles,
  • Passenger transport services,
  • Selected medical equipment,
  • Photovoltaic panels, heat pumps, and natural gas,
  • Sale of cars for people with disabilities,
  • Copyrights.

Contacting the Belgian Tax Administration

For any VAT-related inquiries, you can contact the Belgian Tax Administration at:

SPF Finances,
Administration Generale de la Fiscalite,
Centre de scanning,
Avenue du Prince de Liege 133 – Batiment A,
5100 Namur (Jambes),
finance.belgium.be/en.


When is VAT registration required in Belgium?

VAT registration in Belgium becomes necessary for non-Belgian companies that sell goods or services within the country subject to Belgian VAT. Key factors include exceeding the EU distance selling threshold of €10,000 or storing goods within Belgium. Once this threshold is exceeded, the excess VAT must be accounted for in the country of sale or through the VAT OSS (One Stop Shop) system. Consulting a VAT specialist is advisable to navigate registration and compliance processes and to avoid potential issues: Contact us at amavat®.


VAT registration in Belgium

The VAT registration process varies depending on the company’s location:

  • Foreign companies with a Belgian establishment – can obtain a VAT number from the local VAT office.
  • Companies outside Belgium – can obtain a VAT number from the Central Office for Foreign Taxpayers (BCAE).

Required documents typically include a completed VAT registration form, a copy of the company’s articles of incorporation, an extract from the trade register, a VAT liability certificate, and proof of activity within Belgium, such as sales invoices.


Obtaining a VAT Number

For companies outside the European Union, VAT registration must be done through a fiscal representative, who will be responsible for filing returns and communicating with Belgian tax authorities. EU-based companies can register directly or appoint a fiscal representative.

The Belgian tax office aims to issue a VAT number within 21 working days of application submission. However, in practice, this process often takes between 21 to 45 days.


VAT declarations in Belgium: Filing deadlines

VAT declarations in Belgium can be filed either monthly or quarterly, depending on the company’s turnover. Companies with an annual turnover below €2,500,000 can file quarterly, except for specific goods such as IT accessories or energy products, where the threshold is €250,000.

Filing deadlines and payment dates are strictly defined and may vary based on the reporting period and specific times of the year. The latest and detailed calendars for VAT filing and payment deadlines are available on the Belgian Ministry of Finance’s website.


The Intrastat system in Belgium

Intrastat is a system that allows Belgium to monitor trade in goods with other EU countries. Businesses reaching certain intra-EU trade thresholds must submit Intrastat declarations. In Belgium, the basic thresholds are €1,500,000 for imports and €1,000,000 for exports, while the detailed thresholds for both are €25,000,000.

Current Intrastat thresholds for other EU countries can be found here.


Summary

VAT is a critical aspect of business operations for companies selling goods or services in Belgium. Understanding the applicable rules, VAT rates, and registration processes is essential for operating smoothly in the Belgian market. In case of any uncertainties, seeking advice from specialists who can assist with VAT registration and compliance and provide support in dealing with Belgian tax authorities is highly recommended.

Iga Turniak

Junior Process Management & QM Specialist at getsix®, Marketing Assistant at getsix® and amavat®. With the company since March 2022. Interested in SEO, content marketing, and the e-commerce industry.

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This publication is non-binding information and serves for general information purposes. The information provided does not constitute legal, tax or management advice and does not replace individual advice. Despite careful processing, all information in this publication is provided without any guarantee for the accuracy, up-to-date nature or completeness of the information. The information in this publication is not suitable as the sole basis for action and cannot replace actual advice in individual cases. The liability of the authors or amavat® are excluded. We kindly ask you to contact us directly for a binding consultation if required. The content of this publication iis the intellectual property of amavat® or its partner companies and is protected by copyright. Users of this information may download, print and copy the contents of the publication exclusively for their own purposes.

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