Self-employed persons exercising a complementary activity

A self-employed person is a natural person who exercises a professional activity in Belgium, is not bound by an employment contract and does not have civil servant status.

There are other categories of self-employed persons apart from those who exercise a main activity in that capacity. These include assistants or assisting spouses, persons exercising a complementary activity on a self-employed basis and retired self-employed persons.

Self-employed persons exercising a complementary activity simultaneously exercise another, main professional activity, either as a salaried employee or in education system or as a civil servant.

Persons who receive a replacement income or who maintain their pension rights may also be considered self-employed persons exercising a complementary activity.

The formalities applying to self-employed persons wishing to exercise a complementary activity are identical to those applying to anyone exercising a main activity on a self-employed basis.

You may be considered a self-employed exercising a complementary activity if:

  • you are a salaried employee, temporary employee or trainee teacher, in which case the number of hours worked as a salaried or temporary employee must amount to at least a half-time job as calculated on a monthly basis;
  • you are a civil servant, in which case you must be working 200 days or 8 months of the year, and the hours worked must be equivalent to at least a half-time job as calculated on a monthly basis;
  • you are a qualified teacher, in which case you must work at least 6/10 of the time ;
  • you are unemployed, in which case you must be receiving unemployment benefit and be authorised to exercise an activity as a self-employed person exercising an activity on an ancillary or occasional basis;
  • you are receiving an incapacity allowance from your health insurance fund, in which case your incapacity to work must be at least 66% and the payment you receive must be at least equivalent to the pension of a lone self-employed person.

Social security status

Like other self-employed persons, those exercising a complementary activity are subject to self-employed status and must therefore join a social insurance fund and pay quarterly contributions. In this instance, the payments made do not entitle the person effecting them to family allowances, sickness or invalidity insurance, healthcare insurance (major risks), insurance against their incapacity to work, pensions, insurance against bankruptcy, and so forth.

Terminating your main professional activity

When you terminate your main professional activity, you will retain the status of a self-employed person exercising a complementary activity:

  • either if, to replace your salary, you receive a social security payment that is at least as high as the minimum pension received by a lone self-employed person;
  • or you retain your rights to a retirement or invalidity pension.

Consequently, a self-employed person exercising a complementary activity who terminates their main professional activity does not automatically become a self-employed person exercising a main activity.

Limitations on your complementary activity

In principle you may:

  • spend as much time as you like exercising your complementary activity;
  • earn as much money as you like exercising your complementary activity.

An unsuccessful start

If the complementary activity you exercise as a self-employed person does not prove as successful as you had hoped, you may decide to terminate it.

The National Institute for the Social Security of the Self-employed (NISSEExternal link) may authorise the reimbursement of social security contributions if:

  • your complementary activity only earns you a limited income;
  • you terminate your complementary activity within a year of starting it;
  • you submit a request to this effect.

Your contributions may be reimbursed in full or in part.