UBO Transparency Made Easy: A Guide for Belgian Enterprises

In Belgium, understanding the Ultimate Beneficial Owner (UBO) is vital for legal transparency and compliance. It helps pinpoint individuals who ultimately own or control a business. This post delves into the complexities of UBO identification. It also covers the various categories of beneficial ownership. Additionally, it discusses the implications for businesses operating in Belgium. 

Defining UBO: Direct vs Indirect Control

A UBO, or Ultimate Beneficial Owner, is defined as any natural person who ultimately owns or controls an entity. This ownership can manifest in two forms:

  • Direct Ownership: This includes individuals holding more than 25% of shares or voting rights in an entity.
  • Indirect Control: Individuals who control an entity through other means, such as through the power to appoint or remove directors or through significant influence on decisions.

Categories of UBOs in Belgium

For corporations, UBOs fall into three main categories:

  1. Direct Ownership: Individuals directly holding more than 25% of voting rights or shares, although less than this percentage may still qualify someone as a UBO under certain conditions.
  2. Control through Other Means: Individuals who can control the company via other mechanisms, such as the right to appoint or remove directors or veto rights.
  3. Senior Management: If no direct owner or controlling individual is identifiable, the senior managers are considered UBOs.

For non-profits and foundations, the categories extend to those involved in governance, management, and even beneficiaries for whom the entity was established.

Compliance Requirements

Within a month of incorporation or any UBO information alteration, entities must register their UBOs. They need to confirm this data annually. Documentation demonstrating the identity and control extent of UBOs, like share registers or articles of association, should accompany the registration. Accuracy and currency of this information are crucial to prevent penalties.

Penalties for Non-Compliance

Failing to comply with UBO registration requirements can lead to administrative fines ranging from 250 to 50,000 Euros. Before any fine is imposed, a reminder letter is sent, allowing for a 30-day period to address any discrepancies or provide a defense.

Legalisation and Apostilles of UBO Information

Individuals and entities may request legalisation or an apostille for extracts from the UBO Register, verifying the document’s authenticity but not the accuracy of its content. This process involves submitting a form available on the UBO website.

Public Access and Mandates

The UBO register is accessible to the public, enhancing transparency and allowing for the verification of business ownership information. Legal representatives without a Belgian national number can authorize third parties to manage UBO registration on their behalf through a designated mandate system.

Practical Steps for Compliance

  1. Registering UBOs: Log in as an enterprise on the UBO register platform to input or update UBO information.
  2. Consulting the Register: The general public can view UBO data by logging in under their own name.
  3. Updating Function Holder Information: Ensure you are listed correctly at the Crossroads Bank for Enterprises to facilitate login and UBO registration.


For companies operating within Belgium, understanding and complying with UBO regulations is not just a legal obligation but a cornerstone of corporate governance. These regulations aim to enhance transparency, prevent financial crimes, and promote a stable business environment. Adhering to these guidelines ensures that businesses can operate confidently and transparently within the legal framework provided by Belgian law.

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