This information is especially for foreigners who want to set up a business in Ghent.
If you have Belgian nationality, or you are from one of the Member States of the European Economic Area (European Union, Iceland, Norway and Liechtenstein) or Switzerland, you are eligible to set up a business in Belgium.
If you are from outside this area you additionally need a residential permit and a professional card (see below).
Business Management Skills
There is no need to show proof of business management skills to start a business in Belgium. Here are some tips if you want to study business management skills anyway:
Some adult education schools also have courses to help you prepare for starting a business, called “bedrijfsbeheer“. Passing one of these courses can be used as proof of business management skills. In Gent these schools are e.g Kisp, Syntra, CVO… They offer courses in groups or online of various lengths and at different times of the day.
You can also check out bedrijfsbeheer.com for their bilingual courses with English translations of the study material. But please note – the exam still needs to be completed in Dutch!
People without Belgian nationality or people who do not come from one of the Member States of the European Economic Area (European Union, Iceland, Norway and Liechtenstein) or Switzerland will most likely need to have a professional card (which also then acts as a work permit) to start a business in Belgium and Ghent.
You can apply for the professional card via your consulate if you still live abroad.
If you are in Belgium you can apply for the professional card at an official “business counter” (ondernemingsloket). Look for the closest one to you via this website.
You need to have either a valid “certificate of registration model A” (attest van immatriculatie model A) or proof that you are registered in the foreigner ‘register’ (= electronic residence card type A).
You might need to have additional certificates (e.g. if you are an accountant, lawyer, doctor, architect etc.). Here is a complete list, in Dutch, that contains the special professions and the certificates needed for each profession.
To start a business in Belgium, Flanders and Ghent you:
- Need to be entitled to your civil rights, meaning if you are convicted of breaking the law you are not allowed to start a business during your sentence.
- May not trade if you are seen as not capable and have been forbidden to exercise your profession.
- Need to be at least 18 years old.
If you are not sure about the criteria, you can contact OOG (Ondersteuningspunt Ondernemers Gent), an organisation by the city of Ghent available to answer all questions about entrepreneurship. They also give information in English on request.
You can also check Startersfabriek for support.
Here you can read other The Square.Gent posts about starting a business in Ghent.
- A List of Startup Supporters in Ghent
- How To Register A Business In Ghent
- Freelancer or Business – choosing a company form
About the author:
Jenny is originally from Finland and moved to Ghent in 2009. Now she works as self-employed organising events, supporting businesses with marketing and helping people starting their own businesses by being a community manager of Entrepreneurs Anonymous & co-organiser of Freelance Business Day. Find out more and connect with her on LinkedIn.