Statutory financial statements

In Belgium, companies are classified in several categories, mainly based on size, to determine the obligations for preparing and filing financial statements:

 Very small companies Small & large companies

The following enterprises may use the simplified set of books (no double entry accounting) and are not obliged to file accounts at the Central Balance Sheet Office if their turnover for the last financial year does not exceed 500,000 EUR (excl. VAT):

  • sole traders
  • very small companies whose members have unlimited liability such as:
    • general partnerships
    • ordinary limited liability partnerships

Under the Companies Code (CC), a company is considered large if :

  • the annual average of its workforce exceeds 100 persons or
  • more than one of the following criteria is exceeded:
    • annual average workforce: 50
    • total assets: 3,650,000 EUR
    • annual turnover (excluding VAT): 7,300,000 EUR

All other companies are considered small.

 

These criteria are computed by entity, except when the company is part of a group which is legally required to prepare and publish consolidated financial statements, in which case, they are computed on a group basis. An entity is considered small only if it did not exceed the above criteria during 2 consecutive prior financial years.

Both small and large entities must keep a full set of books (double entry accounting), based upon the legally imposed minimum chart of accounts (Accounting Law of July 17, 1975 (NL / FR) and the RD of 12 September 1983 (NL / FR). A "full set of books" is defined as comprising: subsidiary ledgers such as sales, purchases, cash books, etc. which are centralised in the general ledger. A company is obliged to take yearly inventory of all its assets and liabilities and record the results in an "inventory book" which can be edited from the accounting system. Belgian GAAP must be applied by all companies for their statutory annual accounts.

All small companies (except for small companies whose members have unlimited liability such as: general partnerships, ordinary limited partnerships, cooperative unlimited liability companies) are required to file annual financial statements (comprising a balance sheet, income statement, notes to the financial statements, statement of accounting principles, list of board members and so-called "social" balance sheet) according to the predefined format determined by the Central Balance Sheet Office for use by such companies, which is called the ‘abbreviated presentation’.

Large companies (except for large companies whose members have unlimited liability such as: general partnerships, ordinary limited partnerships, cooperative unlimited liability companies and if none of the members is a legal entity) are required to file in another format, which is called the "full presentation".

The language in which the financial statements must be established, is the official language of the region in which the company has its registered office:

  • Flanders region: Dutch;
  • Walloon region: French;
  • German region: German;
  • Brussels region: Dutch or French or both (choice).

All annual accounts filed at the Central Balance Sheet Office during the last five calendar years can be consulted online (and downloaded for free) via the website of the Belgian National Bank. Annual accounts filed prior to this period can be obtained upon request and against payment.