Who is required to register with the CBE?
Every businessperson or company must register in the Crossroads Bank for Enterprises before starting to perform economic activities. The following companies are required to register with the CBE:
- a legal entity under Belgian law;
- branches, bodies and services under Belgian law that perform public services or tasks associated with public order and that have financial autonomy or autonomy in respect of their accounts from those legal entities under Belgian law of which they are dependents;
- legal entities under foreign or international law that have a registered office in Belgium or that are required to register themselves as a result of a requirement imposed by Belgian legislation;
- every natural person who performs, as an independent entity:
- an economic and professional activity ordinarily, primarily or subsidiarily in Belgium;
- or who is required to register themselves as a result of a requirement imposed by Belgian legislation;
- associations without legal personality that are required to register themselves as a result of a requirement imposed by Belgian legislation;
- those business entities of the above companies.
When registering with the CBE every company is issued an enterprise number, which is a unique identification number for each natural person or legal entity made up of ten figures, mostly starting with a 0 followed by nine figures, which is also your VAT number. You are required by law to use the enterprise number.
Basic information and all activities
The Crossroads Bank for Enterprises holds all the basic details of companies and their business entities. Aside from the actual company data (name, address, etc), the CBE registration must also state the activities of the company. This is done using what are known as NACEBEL codes. Using the CBE Public Search you can look up and consult the public details or every registered company and business entity online. Incorrect and incomplete details could lead to the public services drawing the wrong conclusions and unanticipated costs.
What happens if your registration with the CBE is incorrect or incomplete?
Fines can be imposed upon those companies that do not report their details properly with the CBE, although they are fortunately rarely used. The company has a period of 30 days after being informed to register, amend or delete details by the designated service. If the company does not fulfil these formalities in that time, the management service can have the incorrect details deleted ex officio.
Inadmissibility of legal claims
The consequences of being incompletely or incorrectly registered with the CBE can be far-reaching. The Business Law Code imposes specific rules, for example, that summonses and claims must comply with, which can be briefly summed up as follow:
- the claimant’s enterprise number must be stated on the summons. If it is not present, the courts will grant an adjournment to give the claimant the chance to demonstrate that they are actually registered with the CBE. But if the claimant cannot demonstrate they were registered with the CBE on the date when the claim was instituted, the claim will be dismissed as inadmissible;
- when a company is registered with the CBE but its claim is based on an activity for which it was not registered on the date the claim was instituted or that does not fall under the corporate objects for which the company was registered on that date, the claim will likewise be dismissed as inadmissible.
In real terms this means that a company that performs activities that are not registered with the CBE shall not be able to bring legal proceedings in order to obtain payment for its work. The court will not hear the grounds for the matter and will only go so far as to declare the claim inadmissible. Even though the legal claim can – subject to the registration being regularised – be reinstituted, the company will still have to bear the costs.
National Social Security Office reductions
Since 1 July 2014 the business entity number that must be stated for every employee has been the determining factor in respect of the region in which that employee is employed and thus which reductions on contributions apply to him or her.
If the business entity number is absent or incorrect, the National Social Security Office will officially reject the reductions for the employee or employees concerned. A business entity is defined as follows: ‘any location that can be identified in geographic terms by an address, where at least one activity is performed by the company or from where the activity is performed’. This could be a branch, a warehouse, a factory, a studio or anything else.
The federal authorities, the regions and the local authorities all provide subsidies to people who invest money to start up a company of their own, to employers, for environmentally-friendly investments and for others. When they award these subsidies they use the details recorded with the CBE.
Professional expenses could be disallowed
Not all expenses are automatically professional ones that can consequently be deducted. Those professional expenses incurred by a business are in principle only deductible when they are incurred for achieving the business’s objective.
- For a company, that is firstly the corporate object and then the activities as listed with the CBE.
- For a natural person, only the activities as listed with the CBE count.
That means that the costs for activities not listed with the CBE can be disallowed.
Check regularly and change when necessary
What this means is that it is crucial that the CBE registration is properly checked, and not only when a company starts up. It will be of benefit to every company to check whether the registration is still correct in respect of activities performed at regular intervals. If it is established that there are errors, then they must be corrected as soon as possible. Also check whether the primary and secondary objects are still correct.
Updating the CBE details
The Corporate Housekeeping team at Business Legal screens the information registered with the CBE at the client’s request and checks what information must be updated, with due regard for the corporate object of the company, how they relate to permits and any publication in the Belgian Official Journal.