According to Article 213 of the VAT Directive, every taxable person shall state when his activity as a taxable person commences, changes or ceases. Member States shall allow, and may require, the statement to be made by electronic means, in accordance with conditions which they lay down.
All persons liable for VAT in Belgium must be registered for VAT. Foreign traders are required to register in Belgium as soon as they deliver goods or provide services there, either directly or through a permanent establishment, for which they must pay VAT in Belgium:
- EU companies should register directly with the tax office for foreign companies. They can, however, appoint an agent to act on their behalf, nevertheless they alone remain liable for the tax.
- Non-EU companies should be registered with a individual VAT representative. The tax representative undertakes to complete the formalities required of the person who as appointed him (making the statement of establishment, book-keeping, signing turnover returns and paying the tax). The tax representative is legally responsible for meeting his obligations and legally liable for the tax owed. The tax representative has the same rights as all other taxable person.
Combined with the general reverse charge mechanism applicable in Belgium, the option for a EU company to appoint a fiscal representative can be useful in order to avoid cash flow inconvenience. Indeed, that mechanism makes the client liable for VAT (instead of the supplier) provided the latter is a Belgian business submitting periodical returns or a foreign company identified for VAT purposes in Belgium with a fiscal representative.
Information required in all cases
- Date of issue
- Unique sequential number identifying the invoice
- Customer’s VAT identification number (if the customer is liable for the tax on the transaction)
- Supplier’s full name & address
- Customer’s full name & address
- Description of quantity & type of goods supplied or type & extent of services rendered
- Date of transaction or payment (if different from invoice date)
- VAT rate applied
- VAT amount payable
- Breakdown of VAT amount payable by VAT rate or exemption
- Unit price of goods or services – exclusive of tax, discounts or rebates (unless included in the unit price)
Extra information required in some cases
- Exempt transactions – a reference to the appropriate (EU or national) legislation exempting it, or any other reference indicating it is exempt (at the choice of the supplier).
- Customer liable for the tax (i.e. under the reverse-charge procedure) – the words ‘Reverse charge’.
- Intra-EU supply of a new means of transport – the details specified in Article 2(2)(b) of the VAT Directive (e.g. for a car, its age and mileage).
- A margin scheme applies – a reference to the particular scheme involved (e.g. ‘Margin scheme — travel agents’).
- Self-billing (customer issues invoice instead of supplier) – the words ‘Self-billing’.
- Person liable for tax is a tax representative – their VAT identification number, full name and address.
- Supplier is operating a cash-accounting system – the words ‘Cash accounting’).