The difference between your company registration number and your VAT number
1. Why you need a company registration number
Registering your company number is necessary for a number of reasons:
It identifies your company among all of the other Belgian companies in the national company database known as the Crossroads Bank for Enterprises. You can find all official data on every Belgian company there.
It proves that you fulfill all legal requirements necessary for you to practice your chosen profession.
For selected professions, it used to prove that you are capable of providing the services you offer, meaning you needed to be able to prove that you possess the necessary qualifications to practice your profession.
In Flanders, the proof of competence was completely abolished for regular businesses 1 January 2019. However, independent professionals like solicitors and doctors do still need to prove competence. Sectors like IT, for instance, no longer have to prove professional competence.
They will help you determine which NACEBEL-codes you need. These codes point to an official system of codes implemented throughout the European Union to describe what you do. The BEL at the end of NACEBEL represents Belgium. Find a list of all NACE codes here.
Make sure to add all NACEBEL codes you think you will ever need at this point in time. If you ever plan on, for instance, giving training in coding, there's no harm in adding the codes now for free. You will, however, have to pay to add NACEBEL codes later on.
In some cases, the CBE will help you with certain formalities, like activating your VAT number or getting the required permits.
2. Who registers your company registration number
If you're starting a business in Belgium as a sole proprietor , you can go to the enterprise counter and apply for it yourself. They will ask for all previously mentioned data and fees, after which they get to work registering everything you need. Quite quickly, most of the time after a few days, you will receive confirmation of your registration.
When you're starting a company as a separate legal entity, the registry at the Chamber of Commerce will register you.
3. What you need in order to register
You will need to register your company number on the first day of starting at the latest. Most people, however, apply earlier and select a start date in the future. That way, you'll have plenty of time to prepare before diving in.
You will have to mention the number on all official company documents meant to communicate with other companies, suppliers or the government (e.g. proposals, invoices, tax forms...)
When you register for your company number, you will need to bring the following:
€88,50 for your registration
Description of your company to determine your required NACEBEL-codes, licenses and permits
€66,55 to register your company registration number as your VAT number
4. The difference between your company registration number and your VAT number
Your company registration number identifies your company in the Belgian company database, but then you still have to activate it as your VAT number .
That way, for the Belgian government, your company is identified as being an entity that pays taxes. They will easily be able to calculate the VAT you need to pay or receive by linking everything to your VAT number.
Both look essentially the same, except your VAT number is preceded by country code BE: