Commerce has already been influenced by Brexit uncertainty. As a small or medium-sized company based in the UK, you can expect new regulations and trade flows to affect your operations, market position and ability to compete both locally and internationally.
Expanding your business in Europe after Brexit is a fast and straightforward option to maintain your competitive edge. You don’t even have to look far. Only a stone’s throw away, Flanders – the northern region of Belgium – could provide that easy access to the European Single Market.
Discover more on the Flanders Investment & Trade website, www.investinflanders.be.
When setting up a new business entity in Flanders, your company has a range of different options. There are 5 main scenarios, many of which benefit from the region’s competitive tax incentives for businesses and expatriate employees, as well as labour cost reduction opportunities.
Interested in maintaining a European presence while minimising your footprint outside of the UK? A representation office is not a permanent establishment, meaning that it owes no income taxes to Belgium or Flanders. From a representation office, a company may only ingage in non-profit making activities such as:
• providing data and promotion materials to potential clients and partners;
• coordinating the parent company’s activities in Belgium and supervising the implementation of contracts signed between the parent company and local partners;
• conducting local market research;
• identifying commercial opportunities and making business travel arrangements.
While a principal branch isn’t a legal entity in Flanders, it can employ highly qualified people to support the corporate head office. Through a principal branch, a firm is able to:
• provide management services to its headquarters;
• take advantage of regional tax incentives as a permanent establishment;
• potentially benefit from VAT deductions, depending on the characteristics and activities of the branch.
Setting up a holding company in Flanders allows your business to centralise decision-making and equity flows to other local subsidiaries. There are plenty of excellent taxation reasons to set up this type of entity, which allows a firm to:
• avoid Belgian VAT in the case of passive holding activities;
• take advantage of exemptions on duties and taxes;
• benefit from an excellent Tax Treaty Network and European Directives;
• use GBP for accounting purposes;
• harness advance tax ruling to secure incentives.
How to establish a branch
View the infographic on setting up a branch in Flanders.
How to establish a subsidiary
British companies from a wide range of sectors are already reaping the benefits of establishing their European activities in Flanders. One of the latest additions to the list is consultancy firm CarterJevons. “We have been welcomed warmly,” says managing director Geoff Carter, “and people really enjoy our few sentences in Dutch before we do the serious discussions in English. We really appreciate Flanders’ attitude to business, the balance with the quality of life, and the local network of excellent motorways leading directly to four other countries.”
Setting up business proved to be a straightforward experience. Geoff Carter: “The legal and financial process may seem demanding if you are from a jurisdiction with a different approach to corporate governance and due diligence. But if you follow the process step by step and have the benefit of a great accountant, payroll experts, insurance broker and bank, you will surface three months later with a fully fledged company across the Channel.”
“We also chose well in deciding to approach Flanders Investment & Trade”, Carter concludes. “They lived up to every word and could not have been more professional and helpful. Although we are a very small SME, they treated us with respect and signposted all of the resources available. They facilitated meetings with accountants and payroll advisers, and didn’t charge us a penny – or euro – for their services. What’s not to like!”
Are you convinced of the benefits of setting up your European operations in Flanders? You don’t need to hire consultants to prepare for new investments. At the Flanders House in London, a team of investment experts provides you with free hands-on help and advice.