One-person business or sole trader: the status of a self-employed worker

A sole trader, an independent individual, whatever term you use, a self-employed worker is any individual exercising a professional activity in Belgium in virtue of which they are not bound by an employment contract or status (e.g. public official).

Self-employed workers notably include:

  • artisans (provision of a service without the delivery of goods: gardener, window cleaner, painter, upholsterer, etc.).
  • retailers, including itinerant trade (door-to-door sales, sales on the street or at public markets);
  • liberal professions (architect, doctor, etc.);
  • farmers, breeders, etc.;
  • company representatives.

To exercise a self-employed activity, you must be of adult age, therefore 18 years of age or over.  Nevertheless, to work as an artisan the minimum required age is 16 with authorization from your parents or guardian.  The minor self-employed worker is not subject to the application of social security for self-employed workers as long as he receives the family allowances unconditionally (i.e. until the third quarter of the calendar year during which he reaches the age of 18).

Self-employed workers' earnings may come from:

  • benefits of industrial, commercial or agricultural companies;
  • remuneration from directors of companies and individuals located in Belgium;
  • income from shareholders active in companies located in Belgium.

Their professional activity is also characterised by a certain amount of consistency.  Profits from occasional activities are not classed as self-employed activities.

Note that there is also the option of exercising your activity on a complementary basis.   To find out more about this special status, consult the page "self-employed worker on a complementary basis".

Updated 28/07/2017

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