Self-employed or employed
You can register as self-employed if you want to make your sex work official. You can choose between the following two options.
- Self-employment: full-time or main occupation
Sex work is your only source of income. You are your own boss and are not affiliated with an employer through an employment contract.
- Self-employment: as a secondary occupation
You are self-employed and an employee for at least half of a regular full-time job, i.e. an employment contract for 19 to 20 hours.
Every freelancer who registers at the Crossroads Bank for Enterprises (Kruispuntbank) receives a unique company or ID number (NACE code or "General Nomenclature of Economic Activities in the European Community"). This code corresponds to the economic activity you carry out. However, there is no code linked to self-employed sex work.
You can register under NACE 96099 which refers to “Other personal services”.
When you have decided to go it alone, you need to sort out the following:
Check if you meet the conditions to work in Belgium
Belgian nationals and EU citizens must have a valid identity card in order to start their own business.
EU citizens who want to become self-employed must register with the municipality within 3 months of arrival in the country. You will subsequently receive Attachment 19 stating that you are registered on your municipality's waiting list. Your local policeman will pay a visit to the address stated on your application. You will then be registered in the Foreign Register and receive an electronic E card. Once you are in possession of this card, you can start setting up your business. You can find more information on: EU zelfstandige.
If you want to get more information about working in Belgium, click on werken in Vlaanderen or ask advice from a Violett staff member.
Open a bank account
Open a bank account for professional purposes only and put your income into this account.
Anyone who legally resides in Belgium can open a bank account. Read more about the basic bank account.
Register with an Enterprise counter
The staff of the Enterprise counter will help you with your mandatory registration with the Crossroads Bank for Enterprises, finding a social insurance fund and all other administrative issues that come with registering as a freelance worker.
For a list of all recognized Enterprise Counters click here: list of Enterprise Counters.
Join a social insurance fund
Once you have joined a social insurance fund, you must pay social security contributions that entitle you to social benefits in case of illness, unemployment or retirement. For more information, click here: social insurance fund for the self-employed.
Join a health insurance fund
Once you have joined a social insurance fund for the self-employed, you will receive a certificate for your independent activity. Take this document to your health insurance fund as soon as possible. Haven't you joined a health insurance fund yet? Do so right away. A health insurance fund guarantees the full or partial reimbursement of health expenses and the payment of a replacement income in case of long-term illness. Basic health insurance via a mutual health insurance fund is compulsory for every resident in Belgium.
For a list of all recognised Belgian health insurance funds click here: overview of health insurance funds.
Find an accountant
An accountant will help you with invoices, payments, your annual accounts, etc. In addition, he/she can help you set up your freelance activities. You are not obliged to hire an accountant. You can take care of your own administration but it’s wise to get some advice on these matters.
What are the advantages of being self-employed?
As an independent sex worker can set your own working hours and activities. You have an official income and consequently you may be able to get a loan, for example to buy a house. Professional costs, such as the rent of a window or room, transport costs, clothing, can be deducted from your taxes.
What are the risks?
As an independent sex worker, you must pay a number of regular costs. These include:
- Four times a year: social contributions to the social insurance fund for the self-employed.
- Your accountant.
- Contribution to a mutual health insurance fund.
- Rent of your premises (if applicable).
In addition to these costs, you also must pay Belgian income tax on your annual income. As a full-time freelancer, you will not get a very high pension and your sickness benefits are lower than those of someone with a regular employment contract. Get advice well before setting up your own business to get an idea of what you are getting into.
Working as an independent sex worker gives you an official income and entitles you to a few social benefits. Even though prostitution is not a recognized profession, once you have fulfilled all the requirements to set up as a freelancer, you are fine. The administrative procedures are not easy, and you must ensure that your monthly income is enough to cover all costs. For example, if you want to reduce your workload every few months, you will still have to meet a number of your regular financial obligations.
TIP: If you have a regular part-time employment contract and work as a freelancer the rest of the time, your financial obligations can be spread. For example, your main job pays the costs of the mutual health insurance and your social contributions are also a lot lower. Self-employment as a secondary occupation is therefore a very interesting option financially.
Working with an employment contract
You can choose to work as an employee which means you have an employment contract with a boss who is your employer.
What are the advantages?
An employment contract gives you specific rights that you don’t have when you work as a freelancer, such as the right to:
- a minimum wage.
- paid holiday.
- an income when you're sick (depending on how long you're sick).
- a redundancy package.
What are the risks?
This type of employment status is not straightforward for sex workers because:
- Pimping is forbidden in Belgium.
This means that those who employ a sex worker are punishable. In practice, a policy of tolerance is adopted. More information can be found on our operators’ page for .
- The power dynamics of an employer-employee are complex in the specific case of sex work.
When there is an employment contract, your employer will determine and monitor your work and working hours in accordance with employment regulations. However, as sex work involves working with the body in an intensive and intimate way, sex workers want to be able to choose when and how long they work and what they do and don’t do. The problem is that employment laws are not followed in this type of work.
- Employment contracts are often not fully transparent.
The gross wage stated on your pay slip is often very low because you get extra pay based on the number of customers you receive. Sometimes, sex workers must also pay their employer social contributions. If the amount on your pay slip is too low and you don’t always work, you may not reach the legal minimum social contributions and lose your employment benefits such as sickness and unemployment benefits, family allocations, ... even if you have an employment contract.
- Prostitution has no real employment contracts.
Many bars, clubs and the Ghent windows work with employment contracts in which sex workers fall into the category of waitresses in the hospitality sector. Unfortunately, these employment contracts are ineffective because the risks and safety regulations for waitresses in the hospitality industry are not comparable to those of a sex worker. For example, these employment contract will never have any clauses related to sexual health or the use of condoms.
- Watch out for bogus or false self-employment.
In the case of bogus or false self-employment, you are self-employed, but in practice you work for a boss, who imposes all kinds of rules and is not a bonafide employer. He/she expects you to pay your own social contributions as if you are a freelancer. As the contract is not transparent you mistakenly belief that everything is taken care of. However, if the contributions are not paid, you are not entitled to any assistance such as sickness, unemployment and pension benefits.
An employment contract is preferable and guarantees you better rights than if you work as an independent. Belgium has no legal framework for employment contracts between operators in the sex industry and sex workers. The existing employment contracts do not give sex workers any flexibility and protect operators against conviction. Prostitution employment contracts exist in a grey area of the law and a lot depends on the agreements made between the sex worker and his/her employer. Always read the contract carefully before signing. If in doubt, ask advice. Violett can help you with these matters.
Do you have any further questions about employment?
Currently we only work by appointment. Call 03 293 95 91.
Monday14.00 - 16.00Tuesday/Wednesday10.00 - 12.0018.00 - 20.00Thursday/Friday10.00 - 12.00
For general questions:
Monday09.00 - 17.00Tuesday09.00 - 17.00Wednesday09.00 - 17.00Thursday09.00 - 17.00Friday09.00 - 17.00
Currently we only work by appointment. Call 09 233 47 67.
Monday/Tuesday/Wednesday/Thursday/Friday11.00 - 13.00
For general help and social assistance:
Monday/Tuesday13.00 - 17.00Wednesday/Thursday13.00 - 17.00Friday10.00 - 14.00
Currently we only work by appointment. Call 011 33 30 58.
Monday10.00 - 12.00Tuesday/Wednesday/Thursday/Friday/
For general questions and social assistance:
By phone or for an appointment