Starting with a market stall in Belgium
- Marcel Hoebink
- How to
- Edited 27 December 2022
- 3 min
- Managing and growing
If you want to sell your wares on a market in Belgium, the local rules for itinerant trade (ambulante handel) apply. Register for a spot on a market with the municipality where you plan to sell your products to consumers. Also contact an accredited business counters. They will tell you which requirements you have to meet.
Itinerant trade involves selling products to consumers for example at markets, along public roads, in city parks, in other public places, or on private property. As an itinerant trader, you sell products from a stall or van, rather than a building. If you take your stall or van to a fair or other event run by a vereniging (association) or stichting (foundation), it is not the municipality but the organiser of the event who determines your spot.
To engage in itinerant trade, you will usually need a pedlar's licence or a market trader's licence issued by the accredited business counter. If you sell food, additional rules apply.
Accredited business counters
Before you start working as an itinerant trader in Belgium, you should always contact a business counters accredited by the Belgian government. There are 8 in total, each with multiple branches throughout Belgium. An accredited Business Advice Centre will tell you what requirements you have to meet, such as what type of pedlar's licence you will need.
The Business Advice Centre will also take care of your registration as an itinerant trader with the Crossroads Bank for Enterprises (CBE). After you are registered with CBE, you will receive a company number. The services of a Business Advice Centre are not free. For their fees, check the website of the accredited business counter.
To start working as an itinerant trader in Brussels or Wallonia, you must have entrepreneurial skills. You demonstrate this with an EU declaration (in Dutch) issued by KVK. This requirement does not apply in Flanders.
To engage in itinerant trade, you usually need a pedlar's licence (VLAIO, in Dutch) issued by the accredited business counter. In some cases, exemptions apply, such as if you sell goods for charity or give sales demonstrations at people’s homes. A pedlar's licence is also known as an ‘itinerant trade permit’ and consists of a plastic badge with a QR code. There are three types of pedlar's licences:
- Employer permit.
This pedlar's licence is issued to business owners. This permit will also allow you to sell your goods door-to-door, if explicitly stated on the permit.
- Appointee permit A.
This transferable pedlar's licence is issued to a company and can be used by all employees. The licence is only valid in public places, so your employees are not allowed to sell goods door-to-door.
- Appointee permit B.
This pedlar's licence is non-transferable and is issued to individual employees. With this licence, employees are also allowed to sell goods door-to-door.
Itinerant traders are subject to VAT in Belgium, which means you need a Belgian VAT number and have to pay Belgian VAT. Your VAT number consists of ‘BTW BE’ followed by your company number. To activate your Belgian VAT number, you have to go to the accredited business counter.
For questions about your specific VAT obligations, the best thing to do is contact the Centre for Specific Matters of the Federal Public Service Finance (FPS Finance).
In Limosa, the Belgian government records information on foreign self-employed workers and foreign employees working in Belgium. If you want to work in Belgium, you are required to register in Limosa.
You do not have to register in Limosa if you spend no more than 5 days a month working as a self-employed itinerant trader in Belgium. This exemption does not apply to foreign workers. For questions about required registration, send an email to Mailbox-ECL-CA-AC@rsvz-inasti.fgov.be, the National Institute for Social Insurance of the Self-Employed.
If you are only planning to work in Belgium temporarily, you can hold on to your social security coverage in the Netherlands. The same goes for your Dutch employees. A A1/certificate of coverage from the Dutch Social Insurance Bank (SVB) shows that you have social insurance coverage in the Netherlands. The Bureau of Belgian Affairs, part of the SVB, can answer any questions you may have about social security.
If you hire Belgian staff, you have several obligations under social security legislation. For example, you will have to take out occupational accident insurance. And you must file a declaration of employment with the National Social Security Office (NSSO) through the online Dimona (in Dutch) service. Seek expert advice on hiring staff in Belgium, such as by reaching out to the Union of Social Secretariats (USS, in Dutch) or an accredited business counter.
Additional food rules
Food sales are subject to hygiene laws, so you will usually need a permit from the Federal Agency for Food Chain Safety (FAVV, in Dutch) to sell foodstuffs and beverages. You can apply for this permit via an accredited business counter. Read the brochure 'Guidelines for traders at markets and events' (FAVV, in Dutch) for more information on the obligations of itinerant food traders. Specific rules apply to the sale of alcoholic beverages. Reach out to an accredited business counter for more information about the rules and your options.
Support and information
In Belgium, itinerant traders have to meet various tax obligations. You can choose to outsource the handling of these obligations to an accountancy firm or administrative services provider with knowledge of Belgian tax legislation.
Detailed information on the rules for itinerant trade can be found in the publication 'Itinerant Trade. Guidance for local government' (VLAIO, in Dutch) from the Flemish Agency for Innovation & Entrepreneurship. The publication was written for municipal administrators but provides good insight into the obligations that apply to you as an itinerant trader.