Invoice, Factuur, Facture or Rechnung: it’s up to the legislature.

Invoices must always be composed in Dutch if your place of business is located in Flanders. If you wish to issue invoices in languages other than Dutch, then you can use a multi-language invoice or a duplicate (translated) one.

The obligatory provisions for invoices fall under the language legislation
The Royal Decree of 18 July 1966 consolidating the laws on the use of languages in administrative matters states that ‘for the instruments and documents prescribed by laws and regulations ... the private industrial, trade and financial companies shall use the language of the region where their places of business or respective places of business are located’. In Flanders this decree resulted in the Decree of 19 July 1973 on the use of languages.

The relevant criterion is the location where the actual commercial activities take place. If it is in the Dutch language area, then the language of those provisions that are required by law to appear on the invoice is Dutch (these include the identities of the parties, the subject, the date, the word ‘invoice’, the price, etc). Where a statement is not required by law, the choice of language is up to you.General terms and conditions do not fall under the mandatory language legislation. If a client receives general terms and conditions in a language that they do not understand, then these are not enforceable. This is common logic at play – the terms and conditions in the client’s language.

When is an invoice invalid?
An invoice that is contrary to the language requirements is not valid. That also makes it difficult to collect outstanding sums, as invoices in the wrong language are legally unenforceable until they are replaced with an invoice that is regularly compiled. This was a dramatic penalty that was at odds with the European principle of the free movement of goods, with the ruling of the European Court of Justice dated 21 June 2016 (C-15/15 (New Valmar), resulting in a decree-based change as of 7 July 2017.

So is it three cheers for the European Court of Justice?
Not really. The only change is that from now on an invoice for a natural person/company based in a member state of the EU or EEA other than Belgium may additionally be validly compiled in an official language of the EU or EEA member states.Invoices to compatriots who speak a different language or to clients who are not based in the EU or EEA must still be compiled solely in Dutch. And so the response is unchanged: either issue a multi-language invoice or a duplicate one, with one in Dutch and the other in the client’s language. 

Want to know more? 
Contact Kristof Van der Goten, Senior Tax & Legal Associate. 

Kristof Van der Goten
kristof.vandergoten@moorestephens.be
+32 (0)3 210 91 50

Does the new definition of a company have any consequences for your organisation?
Broader requirements for registration with the CBE - clarification for unincorporated companies
In a previous article, we explained that the introduction of a definition of 'company' in the new Companies and Associations Code (CAC) also affects the registration with the CBE (Crossroads Bank for Enterprises). In this article, we will discuss in more detail the registration obligation for unincorporated companies.  Consequences of the broader definition of a company  With the new
Noticeable impact on tax matters
Impact of Brexit on registration and inheritance tax
The tension in the United Kingdom is palpable. In the meantime, the initial date of Brexit, 29 March 2019, has been delayed. Depending on whether an agreement will be reached or not on 29 March, UK's departure date will be moved to 12 April 2019 in case of a hard Brexit (no deal) and to 22 May 2019 in case of a soft Brexit (deal). It is clear that Brexit will have an impact on tax matters, bo
An easing-up for most SMEs
New interest deduction restriction mostly offers opportunities
As part of the reforms to corporation tax in late 2017, a new interest deduction restriction was also introduced. This is part of the second phase of the reform, meaning that it applies in principle to financial years starting on or after 1 January 2019 (assessment year 2020). The new interest deduction restriction was introduced in the transposition of the European Anti-Tax Avoidance Directive (A
Some important dates highlighted
The new Companies and Associations Code
The new company and association law had already been announced for some time, and it was approved by the Chamber on 28 February 2019. Below we give a brief explanation of some of the important dates associated with the entry into force of this new legislation.   Introduction of the new legislation  The law introducing the Companies' Code enters into force on 1 May 2019 and repea
The new rules for VAT processing of vouchers
The wonderful world of VAT and vouchers
Vouchers are a very popular marketing tool. There are various types of vouchers: discount vouchers issued by a manufacturer, redeemable at any sales outlet in Belgium, discount coupons issued free of charge by retailers, vouchers where you can get a newly launched article free of charge, gift vouchers that can be redeemed for a whole range of products or services, electronic vouchers, etc. Are yo
A showpiece, or rather a sticking plaster for a broken arm?
The Belgian fiscal consolidation regime
The general intention with the introduction of a fiscal consolidation regime was clear, namely to put the Belgian tax system back in a positive light. After all, many of our neighbouring countries have had a system of fiscal consolidation in place for many years, and Belgium consequently scored badly on this point when international groups were looking to choose an investment location. The ques
The long-term lease revival
Superficies as stealth usufruct?
A noteworthy judgement was recently handed down by the Court of Appeal of Brussels regarding the taxation of overly cheap accession in the case of superficies (23 January 2019). In the past, a number of rulings had already been made on this subject (see, inter alia, Court in Ghent of 31 October 2017). The tax authorities are clearly keen to see the end of the right of superficies, and the two judg
'Paulian claim' to the rescue
Thwarting the taxman by rejecting an inheritance: is it possible?
In inheritance law, multiple heirs can have a statutory inheritance claim. As such, they are entitled to a minimum share of the inheritance. Since the new inheritance law, it is possible to freely dispose of half of one's assets. This is called the available part. If the available part is exceeded by donations, the statutory heirs may request the reduction. Through the reduction, the statutory hei
Appointing a Belgian fiscal representative is necessary
BREXIT: Important VAT news for UK companies with a Belgian VAT number
The Belgian VAT authorities confirmed that UK companies with a direct Belgian VAT registration need to appoint a Belgian fiscal representative for VAT purposes before 30/03/2019. This is in case of a no-deal Brexit on that date. The VAT administration will allow these UK companies to maintain their current Belgian VAT number, also after appointing a fiscal representative for VAT purposes. 
Legally most correct solution
Successive usufruct: The Flemish Tax Office (Vlabel) confirms the method of levying the registration duties
On 10 December 2018, a remarkable position was published on the Vlabel website (Position no 18083 of 26 November 2018). The real estate tax system is becoming more and more sophisticated with more (tax) advantages. The question must therefore be asked whether the well-known "simple" usufruct will not be partially replaced by transactions with a double or successive usufruct. In the area of registr

Subscribe to our newsletter