Find answers to frequently asked questions from companies below
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FAQ about E-commerce
Every company that sells products online via a webshop within the EU is obliged to pay VAT. In the case of distance selling, VAT is paid in the country where the company is established unless certain turnover thresholds are exceeded. If the turnover threshold of the country of the consumer is exceeded, the VAT must be paid in the country of the consumer.
In 2021 the regulations will be radically amended. There is one principle: VAT must be paid in the country of the consumer. As an e-commerce company this is of course not always easy. Companies can declare their VAT obligations per EU country in a declaration, namely the One-Stop-Shop declaration (OSS). This declaration must be made in the country where the company is established.
The cookie bar comes in different shapes and sizes, but what are the requirements that a cookie bar must meet by law?
The mandatory consent of the consumer
As a company, you are obliged to ask for the explicit permission to place analytical and commercial cookies. The company does not have to ask permission for so-called functional cookies (more information about the different types of cookies can be found above). This consent must be free, specific, informed and retractable. This consent must be the result of a positive action: for example, ticking a box, clicking a button, dragging a bar, ... Scrolling on the website is therefore not considered as a valid permission.
The technical aspects of the cookie bar
What are the different types of cookies?
In general, you can distinguish three different types of cookies:
1) Functional cookies:
These are cookies that are needed to guarantee the proper functioning of the website. Without these cookies, the website would not function properly. They are cookies that are used to transfer signals over a network or cookies that are used to perform a service. Some examples are: shopping cards, plug-ins to social networks, security cookies, ...
2) Analytical cookies
The main purpose of these cookies is to compile statistical findings. Analytical cookies measure consumers' website visits. This enables the consumer to check which pages receive the most visits from the consumer. The most important example of analytical cookies is Google Analytics.
3) Commercial cookies
Commercial cookies are cookies that are mainly used for marketing purposes. However, this is a broad term. It can be about remembering someone's preferences, placing advertisements or third party cookies.
It is important that you describe the different cookies and what exactly the purpose of these cookies is. Simply stating that cookies are being used is not enough. It is best to make a distinction between the different types of cookies. The following information is best recorded to be completely correct: per cookie the name of the cookie and possibly the name of the third party that places the cookie, the purpose of the cookie and the storage period.
The digital investment deduction is a tax deduction of 13.5% for all investments that you as a company have made in digital payment and invoicing systems, as well as ICT security. If you have had a webshop developed, you are therefore entitled to a digital investment deduction calculated on the total investment amount.
However, not every company is eligible. Companies that are considered small according to company law can make use of the digital investment deduction. Article 1:24, §1 to 6 of the Companies and Associations Code defines a small enterprise as any enterprise that has not exceeded more than one of the following criteria for the last completed financial year:
Annual average number of employees: 50
Annual turnover, excluding value added taxes: 9,000,000 euros
Balance sheet total: 4,500,000 euros
E-commerce is an English term and literally means e-commerce. This is a very broad term and can be broadly described as any online order via the internet. This can relate to both goods and services. From this definition we can deduce that there is no obligation to deliver to your home in order to effectively speak of e-commerce. For example, it is possible that you purchase an online service or product without it being physically delivered, e.g. the purchase of an app, the purchase of concert tickets, reservations, ... In addition, the phenomenon of 'click-and-collect' also falls under e-commerce: you order something online and have it delivered at a collection point.
The legislation mainly refers to distance selling: Any contract concluded between the company and the consumer within the framework of an organized system for distance sales or services without the simultaneous physical presence of the company and the consumer and which, up to and including the moment at which the contract is concluded, makes exclusive use of one or more means of distance communication (art. I.8, 15° WER).
The consumer has a legal right of withdrawal for a distance purchase (art. VI.47-VI.53 WER). The consumer can invoke the right of withdrawal during 14 calendar days. She does not have to give any motivation for this and no costs other than the costs that are determined by law will be charged. For example, the costs of returning the goods may be borne by the consumer.
The consumer can inform the company about the right of withdrawal in different ways: he can do this by filling in a withdrawal form or an unambiguous statement clearly indicating the decision to withdraw from the contract (e.g. by telephone, e-mail, post, etc.). The company itself may make a model withdrawal form available to the consumer.
The company shall reimburse all payments received from the consumer, including delivery costs, within a period of 14 days following the day on which the consumer is informed of the withdrawal. This reimbursement shall be made by the same means of payment used by the consumer for the original purchase, unless the consumer has expressly agreed to another means of payment.
It is important that the company informs the consumer about the right of withdrawal and any exceptions to the right of withdrawal. If the company does not inform the consumer about the right of withdrawal, the right of withdrawal is extended by 12 months.
Setting up a business is not always self-evident. For more information about setting up a business, please visit the website of the FOD Economie. Here you can find a step-by-step explanation of how to set up a company and what you need to do to comply with Belgian legislation.
It also happens that you, as a foreign company, want to set up a business in Belgium. For this I refer you to the website of Business Belgium.
With the entry into force of the second European Payment Services Directive (PSD2), a legal framework was created for safer payment transactions for consumers and merchants. The principle of strong customer authentication aims to give customers extra protection when making online payments.
What is strong customer authentication?
This means that a consumer has to authenticate himself. This authentication must be carried out using at least two characteristics of the following three:
Something you know (e.g. pin code)
Something you own (e.g. card reader/ smartphone)
Something personal (e.g. fingerprint)
This means that it is no longer possible to make a purchase with only the card details.
As a merchant, you have until 31 December 2020 to make the necessary adjustments to your payment system.
What is the take-back obligation?
The take-back obligation is a legal obligation for all companies that place electrical or electronic appliances on the Belgian market. Producers and manufacturers are obliged to collect and recycle such appliances. This obligation also applies to webshops. In Belgium, they have set up the non-profit organisation Recupel for this purpose, a so-called 'collective system' that is responsible for the implementation of the legal obligations. Producers and manufacturers of electrical/electronic appliances can join the Recupel collective system or submit an individual plan to the Belgian regional authorities in which they are active.
What are my obligations?
You are obliged to give the consumer the opportunity to return a similar old appliance for recycling. This can be provided by placing an opt-in checkbox in the ordering process of an electrical or electronic appliance or by making a reference to a page where information is given about the possibility of returning it.
In addition, it is important that you mention the actual amount of the recycling contribution (Recupel contribution) with the price or state that the contribution is included in the price.
Companies are increasingly offering their products via online platforms such as Bol.com, Amazon etc. In the relationship between the company and the platform, there are certain rules that must be respected. On 12 July 2020, a new European Regulation 2019/1150 comes into force that gives the company more rights and imposes clear obligations on the platform.
The obligations of the online platform
Firstly, the online platform is obliged to provide clear general terms and conditions. Any change must be notified to the company only after a notice period of at least 15 days has elapsed. The online platform is obliged to provide information on the conditions of the agreement such as termination, cancellation or suspension. If the online platform wishes to terminate or suspend the cooperation, this must be duly motivated.
Secondly, the online platform should provide an opportunity to resolve disputes in a simple and quick way through mediation. For this purpose, the platform will appoint two or more mediators. The platform must bear a reasonable share of the mediation costs.
To be able to sell goods or offer services via the Internet, you must have a company number. It is this company number that you will have to mention in the footer and the general conditions of your webshop. As soon as you have a company number, you can start a web shop. This means that you do not need to have a physical business before you can start a webshop. This does not necessarily have to be a company. You can also perfectly start a webshop as a sole proprietorship / self-employed person.
To apply for a business number, you must register with the CBE. You can do this easily via a recognised business office.
It is important to check whether you need any additional permits for the sale of certain products, such as alcohol.
You work (part-time) and would like to set up a webshop as a secondary activity. That is possible! For this you must become self-employed as a secondary activity. You need a business number to be able to set up a webshop. To apply for a business number, you need to register with the CBE. You can do this easily via a recognised business office.
When you are 18+, you can start a webshop. You can therefore perfectly set up a webshop as a student as long as you are over 18 years old. In certain cases you can apply for the status of student entrepreneur.
To be able to sell via the Internet, you need a company number. To apply for a business number, you must register with the CBE. This can easily be done via a recognised enterprise office.
Ask your university/college for details.