self-employed student

How to become self-employed as a student?

The one thing that companies like Virgin, Microsoft and Apple all have in common is that they were started by very young students. Richard Branson was barely 16, Bill Gates 20, and Steve Jobs 22 when they started out.

If you’re still studying but have plenty of bright business ideas, there’s nothing to prevent you from realising them thanks to the status of self-employed as a student!

Take the first step and open your business account
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Why become self-employed as a student?

  • You’re not financially dependent on your business, which means you can afford to take a little more risk. And that’s where the biggest opportunities often are ...
  • You fall under preferential social security rules and therefore pay only minimal social security contributions, if any at all. That ensures you can benefit to the full from your additional income!
  • You won’t just be left to get on with things. Almost every college organises initiatives to help you succeed in your business and studies (such initiatives include Gentrepreneur, Start.VUB and KU Leuven Kick).
  • Even if your business isn’t successful, you’ll still learn valuable lessons from this adventure, putting you one step ahead of those entering the job market without any business experience.
  • And who knows ... maybe you’ll lay the first stones of a thriving business that enriches your life for a long time to come!

Becoming self-employed as a student in 7 steps

  1. Start with a realistic plan
    How do you plan to market your idea? What are the costs involved and how are you going to finance them? Don’t hesitate to speak to our experts for advice.
  2. Get a certificate from your college
    You need this proof of enrolment to apply for the status of self-employed as a student.
  3. Join a social insurance fund
    They will see to it that you get the status of self-employed as a student and make sure you pay any social security contributions properly and on time.
  4. Open your business account
    A separate business account lets you keep track of customer payments, enables you to easily pay your suppliers and ensures you can keep your business life separate from your student life. You don’t have to open one, but it’s highly recommended.
  5. Choose a business one-stop shop
    They will take care of registering your business with the ‘Crossroads Bank for Enterprises’ database and provide you with your company number.
  6. Activate your VAT number
    You can arrange this yourself by filling in a form or you can pay your business one-stop shop to activate it for you. Better still, as a starting student entrepreneur, you can have your VAT number activated for free when you open your business account with KBC Brussels.
  7. Find a good accountant
    That will save you a stack of paperwork, enabling you to focus on your business and studies. If you prefer to do your own bookkeeping, there are plenty of handy accounting tools you can use.

Get answers to your questions

You qualify for self-employed as a student status if you:

  • are aged 18 to 25
  • study at a recognised educational institution in Belgium or abroad
  • are enrolled for a minimum of 27 credits per academic year or attend 17 course periods a week
  • only work for yourself and therefore are not under the authority of an employer

If you’re a foreign student but meet all the conditions, you too may start as a self-employed student!

Being self-employed as a student, you benefit from preferential social security rules. Depending on how much you earn, you are either fully exempt or you pay a reduced contribution of 21%.

It’s only when you fall into a higher income category that you have to pay the same contribution as someone who is full-time self-employed.

Basically, you remain dependent on your parents for social security matters. You only have limited social security entitlements in terms of health and disability benefits and you don’t accrue any pension entitlements of your own during those years.

If your venture turns out to be a success and you move into a high income category, you no longer fall under the self-employed as a student status but instead become

Being self-employed as a student, you’re exempt from paying them as long as your total income remains below the tax-exempt figure.

Not necessarily! If you want to hold on to it, you will have to limit your self-employed business activity. How exactly you do that varies by region:

It’s best to discuss this with your child benefit fund before starting your business.

If you’re still a dependent of your parents, you will continue to be covered as before. It’s advisable to contact your health insurance fund to discuss your specific situation.

Your student with self-employed status ends:

  • after the quarter in which you no longer meet all the conditions
  • after the quarter in which you finish your studies
  • on 30 September of the year in which you turn 25

This does not necessarily mean the end of your business, but it does mean you have a different status and other obligations.

As soon as you finish your studies, or lose your status for some other reason, a number of different scenarios are possible:

  1. You continue as a full-time self-employed person
    If you focus entirely on your business after graduating, you become self-employed in your main occupation.
  2. You continue as self-employed in a secondary occupation
    If you decide to combine your business with a salaried job, you must meet the specific conditions of a secondary occupation.
  3. You start looking for permanent work
    If you decide to look for a full-time salaried job, you can apply for unemployment benefits provided you complete a certain period of professional integration. You can temporarily continue your business for this purpose.

Whichever route you decide to take, don't forget to notify your social security fund!

If you have any other questions or would like to discuss your idea with a specialist, don’t hesitate to contact our business experts.

Made up your mind about starting as a student entrepreneur?

Exciting times! Take the first step now by opening your business account at KBC Brussels and getting all your student business starter benefits for free:

  • Advice tailored to your idea
  • Professional website
  • Smart marketing package
  • Handy invoicing tool
  • And more besides!
Open your business account now
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