The process of opening a bank account in Belgium is straightforward and can be done with a minimum number of mandatory documents. A bank account is required for individuals who live and work in Belgium but also for companies incorporated in Belgium that need the account for business transactions.
The experts at our Belgian company formation firm can help you open a bank account in Belgium if you are an expat or a foreign entrepreneur who is ready to start a business. Apart from a current account at a Belgian bank, you can also choose to start a savings account to better manage your finances.
Steps for opening a bank account in Belgium
Some of the largest Belgian banks are BNP Paribas Fortis, ING and KBC but many other banks have opened branches in Belgium. Clients have a full range of financial services to choose from and most banking services are also available in English, not only in French or Dutch.
Most banks only require a passport or a Belgian ID card as proof of identity, but other many also request a proof of residence. In addition to these documents the applicant must also submit the completed and signed bank account application form (usually available for online download or directly at the bank). Some banks even allow clients to open their bank accounts online and some banks even allow foreigners to open a bank account before actually arriving to Belgium.
Once the account has been opened, the client must receive the cards, PIN code and other passwords and devices needed to manage the account. Bank statements can be requested monthly or according to the client’s specifications.
Here are some tips that can be useful before you decide to open a bank account in Belgium:
Choose the type of account: this will depend whether or not the client is a natural or legal person but is can also be classified according to the types of accounts offered by a particular bank;
Consider the facilities: accessibility, the number of ATMs and actual branch distribution throughout the country can be key factors to consider, especially for individuals who travel throughout the country or companies that have more than office in Belgium;
Fees: this is an important issue to consider and it refers to the costs for opening the account as well as any and all recurrent costs related to different facilities and the usual account maintenance;
Online options: in today’s fast-moving world, individuals and companies alike can prefer to work with a bank that is able to provide basic mobile and online services; moreover, banks with a user-friendly app can help attract and keep certain types of clients;
Terms and conditions: finally, it is important to keep in mind that one should understand the overall terms and conditions for using the account; fees, charges, account particularities and options should all be taken into consideration before signing the services agreement.
Each client is different, and the needs are specific to the type of account and how it will be used (for personal or business purposes). We encourage individuals to keep these issues in mind before they choose to work with a particular Belgian bank.
Understanding the conditions for bank account opening is important and our English-speaking team can assist you throughout this process, especially if you need to obtain a residence permit on order to be able to open a bank account in Belgium. Many bank branches also offer services to foreigners who work or open a business in the country, they have English-optimized websites and the staff is multilingual. However, should you observe that the language is a barrier (either French or Flemish) you can reach out to our agents for specialized assistance.
Belgium is a member of the Eurozone and payments in the country are made in this currency. Payments for goods and services can be made in cash or by card payments. Cards are widely accepted both in small and large stores.
The management fees for a bank account in Belgium will differ according to the services requested by the client. Incomes from savings accounts or foreign investments need to be registered in the annual tax return.
Banking facilities for foreigners in Belgium
Some banks in Belgium offer special types of accounts or packages for foreigners. Non-residents who live and work outside of Belgium but need to have a bank account in the country can open a special bank account that will offer them multi-currency and management solutions adapted to their needs and financial investments in Belgium.
The specialists at our company formation firm are ready to help you know everything about the legislation for foreign investments and help you set up a company and open a bank account in Belgium.
Some examples of popular banks in Belgium include: BNP Paribas Fortis, ING, KBC Groep, Beobank, AXXA Bank Belgium or Argenta. The Belgian Post Office also offers banking services and internet banking facilities. Belgium has a large number of bank branches and electronic banking is widespread.
Individuals or companies that wish to open a bank account in Belgium can choose to work with any of these banks. Below, our agents list some of the biggest banks in the country according to the number of bank branches:
•KBC/CBC: first of the Belgian banks with a high number of local branches, 653; in 2017 it had total revenues of 7.7 billion Euros;
•Belfius: 646 branches and a net income in 2017 of 606 million EUR; the operational net income the same year was 615 million EUR (excluding one-off elements);
•BNP Paribas Fortis: 644 branches and an operating income of 2,950 million euros at the end of 2017, compared to 2,472 million euros at the end of 2016;
•ING Belgium: 632 branches and 739 million EUR profit for 2017 after tax with an increase of 32,000 active clients and many more new active mobile users.
Please keep in mind that these numbers are adjusted each year and individuals who open a bank account in Belgium may wish to check the most recent data. When needed, our team can provide you with detailed and updated information.
Many banks in Belgium operate using a high or very high number of branches, reflected in the fact that the number of local branches in the country is larger than those in some of the neighboring countries such as the Netherlands or Luxembourg. This can be an important advantage to a client who will open a bank account in Belgium as accessibility will most likely not be an issue irrespective of the city in which he intends to work in or open a business, be it Brussels, Ostend, Ghent or others.
For foreign investors who do business both in Belgium and one of the neighboring countries, choosing the bank to work with when they open a company in Belgium may be influenced by whether or not they already run a company in another country. For example, when a Dutch investor wishes to open a Belgian company (for expansion purposes, for example) he may be interested in choosing the same bank with which he already has a business account with, perhaps ING Belgium if he already uses the services of ING Group which is a Dutch financial institution.
Belgian laws for the banking sector
Belgium is one of the most developed countries in the world when it comes to the banking system, since it has the largest number of bank branches in the world. Therefore, the Belgian electronic banking is spread all over the country, and transactions can be made with a computer or ATM. In addition, some banks operate entirely online and clients can run all operations, such as opening an account or use the investment services provided by the bank, exclusively in this manner.
In terms of charges, each bank has its own system, but all of them tax clients for most products and services. In comparison to UK or USA, Belgium has higher taxes for personal accounts, as each service is taxed separately, such as debit or credit cards or Internet Banking, separate from the charges applied for each transaction.
We invite you to watch a video on the process of opening a bank account in Belgium:
New rules in the Belgian banking sector
In 2013, the chief ministers of the Belgian government decided to introduce new rules in the banking sector in order to avoid repetition of the
economic crisis that struck the Belgian companies in 2008. The reform has two main objectives, to limit risk behaviors bankers and to strengthen the warranties for investors. Our company formation agents in Belgium can provide accurate information regarding the new banking law in Belgium. Contact us for any additional questions regarding the financial sector in this country and for assistance in case you want to open a bank account in Belgium.
Establishments that receive financial assistance from the state will no longer receive variable compensation, and risk takers will receive bonuses, but they will be limited.
The new banking law in Belgium dated February 2014 contains new rules on supervision, resolution and structure of banking. As the financial crisis has exposed structural underfunding to an acute liquidity of some banks, the European Union Directive 36/2013 aims to address these finding with different measures, such as strengthening the bank’s capital in regards to quantity and quality, and requests greater liquidity to manage the risk on short and long terms.
Our team can help interested individuals learn more about the applicable rules and regulations for banks as well as financial services providers in Belgium. Our team offers assistance throughout the process needed to start the business and this includes opening the bank account and making the initial deposit according to the type of company. Moreover, for companies that will offer financial services, our team can help the founders understand the conditions imposed for providing solutions in this regulated field.
If you are a foreigner and want to open a bank account in Belgium, please contact ourcompany registration agents. We are able to provide a wide range of services for companies and individuals in Belgium.
Call us now at +31206974000to set up an appointment with our consultants in Brussels, Belgium. Alternatively you can incorporate your company without traveling to Belgium.
As our client, you will beneficiate from the joint expertize of local lawyers and international consultants. Together we will be able to offer you the specialized help you require for your business start-up in Belgium.