Belgium has one of the best-developed banking systems in Europe as well as one of the largest banks per person ratios in the world. Electronic banking is something very common in this country, which allows you to open a bank account online, quick and easy. However, this policy varies from bank to bank and you need to inform the bank when you are issued a residency permit.
Usually it takes approximately to weeks to obtain a credit or debit card, together with the PIN codes and the necessary passwords to manage your account.
Needless to say, if you want to open a company in Belgium, you will need a bank account to deposit the minimum required share capital.
Documentation needed to open a bank account
In order to deposit funds and have a credit card or debit card, you will need a passport, a bank account application form and in some cases a proof of your address. A utility bill is most commonly used.
Some banks allow foreign customers to open a bank account online even before they arrive to Belgium; however, you have to check with the bank of your choice first.
Bank statements are usually sent on a monthly basis, but you can opt to receive them more frequently for an additional charge.
Overdraft facilities are available on current bank accounts, but Belgian banks will require a proof of income, such as a work contract, or three months worth of pay slips.
How to use a Belgian bank account
Most banks in Belgium are open Monday to Friday, from 9 AM to 4.30 PM and few banks are open on Saturdays as well. Smaller banks often close during lunchtime.
Usually a debit card accompanies each bank account. Most payments are made using a debit card. Bank ATM’s offer a wide range of services, such as transactions, deposits, fund transfers, withdrawals and even bill payments in some cases.
Some debit cards have a Proton facility, which can be used to make small payments. With this facility, PIN codes are not necessary. The cards can be used to pay for newspapers, parking fees or other types of small payments. The disadvantage of a Proton is that others can use it if it is stolen; therefore, it’s a good idea to have only small amounts available on it.
Credit cards are widely used in Belgium. The payments for the purchases are removed from the bank account only once a month. Credit cards are charged an annual fee and monthly statements are issued approximately 10 days before the payment is debited from the bank account.
Checks are rarely used in Belgium, however standing orders are common to pay for amounts that don’t vary from month to month, such as rent payments. Another way to pay for bills or other purchases is using money transfers or electronic transfers.
Offshore banking in Belgium
Belgium offers the possibility for foreigners to open up a bank account in the country, even if the client is not a Belgian resident. Offshore banking usually applies to foreign investors.
Offshore banking is an option used by many foreigners, as it offers the possibility to diversify the investments made internationally, to benefit from a more favorable tax environment, to take advantage of heightened banking confidentiality and to access foreign investments and products.
Access to offshore bank accounts is granted to foreign clients depending on their country of residence. Some countries have Offshore Wealth Policies, which mandate that their residents are not legally allowed to set up an offshore account.
The necessary documents for an offshore account are passport, national ID, a bank statement where the funds will be taken from and some personal information.
Offshore bank accounts are used as saving accounts, multi – currency accounts, time deposits or for global funds transfers. Furthermore, offshore accounts are also accompanied by investment services and products such as stock exchange, equity – linked products, insurance or financial products that are not available in the home country.