Social status of a self-employed person

Affiliation to a social security fund

As a self-employed worker, you must be affiliated with a social insurance fund for self-employed workers.  Although you are free to choose which one, this must always be done by the start of the activities (list of social securiity funds).

If you do not respect this deadline, the National Institute for the Social Security of the Self-employed (NISSE) will request that you fix this irregularity, failing which you will be affiliated with the The National Fund for self-employed workers by default. 

Payment of social security contributions

Contributions DUE FROM self-employed workers

Self-employed workers must pay contributions to their social security fund.  At the start of each calendar quarter (January, April, July, and October), they receive a statement setting out the amounts due.  The contributions must be paid no later than before the end of each quarter.

The amount of social contributions due as a self-employed worker depends on your professional income. There are minimum and maximum contributions. The contributions for a given year are normally established on the net amount of professional income three
years earlier (reference year). During your first three years of working as a freelancer, you will be charged a minimum provisional amount and at the end of the three years your contributions will be adjusted – and you may have a shock. Avoid large bills by estimating what your income will be and making payments in advance. You will be sent a bill at the beginning of each quarter (January, April, July and October) and you have to pay before the end of the quarter.

When you start up your business, there is of course no reference year. Moreover, you do not know what your real income will be. For this reason, as a starter, you pay a provisional contribution of the legal minimum until your income is known. Freelance workers starting up a main activity can choose between paying the legal minimum contributions or accepting an estimate of their income, which is more intelligent than paying the legal minimum

Contributions due from companies

Anyone who performs a self-employed activity and who forms a company in this respect must themselves, as well as the company, be affiliated with a social security fund.  In fact, companies must pay an annual flat-rate fee to the social security fund.

What are your rights?

The social status of self-employed workers includes both obligations and rights.  In exchange for the social contributions you pay every quarter, you are entitled to maternity benefit, child benefit, the reimbursement of health care expenses, bankruptcy insurance, incapacity for work insurance, an allowance in the event of palliative care and a pension. These social security rights are explained below.

Family benefits

Rights to family benefits include:

  • birth allowances or adoption grants;
  • monthly family allowances;
  • other benefits such as age supplements and orphan allowances.

Compulsory sickness insurance

As of January 2008, the social security contributions paid by self-employed persons automatically entitle them to full cover for compulsory health insurance, in the same way as employed persons and civil servants. Consequently, they receive the same level of reimbursement for medical treatment and medication and are no longer required to pay  additional contributions for ‘small risks’ insurance.

To benefit from health insurance payments, the newly self-employed must take the following steps:

  • Join a social security fund, into which they pay quarterly social security contributions
  • Register with a mutual health insurance fund


As a self-employed person, you are legally insured against loss of income due to work disability, but you receive only a modest benefit (starting from the second month and lasting up to 12 months).  You can insure your income during a period of incapacity for work by taking out a Guaranteed Income insurance.


If a self-employed woman (or assisting spouse) becomes pregnant, she is entitled to twelve weeks’ pre- and post-natal leave (nine of whco are flexible). During this time off work, she is paid a replacement income. To compensate self-employed women for an early return to work, they are now entitled to 105 free service vouchers to be used within the eight months following the birth.


A self-employed person's pension is calculated in the same way as an employee’s pension: based on the paid social security contributions and the number of years worked. As a self-employed person, you pay less in social security contributions, so in most cases your pension will be lower than that of an employee.

However, aside from the regular pension saving schemes, you can take out a pension saving insurance that is advantageous in terms of taxation, a Voluntary Supplementary Pension for the Self-Employed.

Social insurance in the case of bankruptcy

This benefit is only granted once in the career of the freelance worker.The freelance worker retains his rights...

  • to healthcare and  family allowances during 4 quarters
  • may temporarily receive compensation (payment of a monthly allowance for up to 12 months);

Affiliation to a mutual insurance fund

To be able to benefit from health and disability insurance benefits, self-employed workers must register with the mutual insurance fund of their choice.

Updated 28/07/2017

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