Abolition of professional competence in Flanders: the consequences at a glance

In accordance with the Establishment of Businesses Act, every SME, natural person or legal entity wishing to engage in a commercial activity must prove the necessary entrepreneurial skills. For most professions, a basic knowledge of business management is sufficient but for a number of others, specific professional competence is required. This is in contradiction with European legislation that states that every European should be able to start a business on an equal basis in every Member State. A number of regulated professions are therefore being abolished.

From 1 January 2018, a number of regulated professions are to be abolished (with exception of the construction sector and the regulated activity of refrigeration fitter). The abolition only applies to Flanders.1

This applies to especially professional competence with respect to the following:

  • Butcher - wholesaler
  • Dry cleaner – painter
  • Restaurateur/caterer – banquet organizer
  • Bread and pastry cook
  • Hairdresser
  • Beauty specialist
  • Masseur
  • Chiropodist
  • Optician
  • Dental technician
  • Funeral director
  • Butcher – pork butcher
  • and the regulated activities relating to bicycles and motor vehicles 

The Establishment of Businesses Act continues to apply in the Brussels Capital Region and the Walloon Region. This therefore also applies to the regulated activities that were abolished in Flanders. In the event of a lack of consensus between the Regions as to a new criterion, the address of the registered office or the domiciled address will determine whether a company is required to demonstrate professional knowledge.

A company with its registered office in the Brussels Capital Region but the address of a business unit in Flanders will still need to demonstrate professional knowledge. A company that has its registered office in Flanders but later moves to the Walloon Region will have to demonstrate professional knowledge from that moment on.

For traders and test drive plates, the combination of professional work with Nacebel codes is no longer applied. Only the Nacebel codes will apply. Every company still has to provide the basic knowledge of business management and this applies to the three regions .For Flanders, the business management will normally be abolished with effect 1 September 2019.

In the situation in which the professional competence is proven by an employee of the company, the name of the employee who also bears responsibility for the technical execution of the work is linked to the company at the Crossroads Bank for Enterprises (CBE). The name of the employee remains linked to the company after the abolition of the professional competence in the CBE and perhaps that is not what the entrepreneur wishes. A file must be submitted to the business counter to this effect.  

1. 2017-07-14 - Decree of the Flemish Government to repeal Royal Decrees concerning the professional competence of butcher-wholesaler, dry cleaner-painter, restaurateur or caterer-banquet organizer, bread and pastry cook, hairdresser, beauty specialist, masseur, chiropodist, optician, dental technician, funeral director, butcher and pork butcher and with regard to the exercise of independent activities in relation to bicycles and motor vehicles. - BOG 2017-08-09

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