Company formats

There are different types of companies and associations, each with their own characteristics.     SDG 

The most common company forms are the following:

  • Naamloze vennootschap (NV): this is the form for companies of a certain size, where raising capital is the main focus. Only one founder is needed to set up an NV.
  • Besloten vennootschap (BV): a limited company is the ‘basic company form’ par excellence. Because there are very few mandatory regulations, a BV gives economic operators a lot of room to manoeuvre in forming a company that is ‘made to measure’. For example, there is freedom in the articles of association to determine how limited the BV actually is. Only one founder is needed to set up a BV.
  • Coöperatieve vennootschap (CV): a cooperative society is a company whose shareholders pursue a cooperative ideal, which explains why it always requires three founders. The main purpose of the cooperative society is to meet the needs of its shareholders and it may also serve as a tool to meet the economic or social needs of those shareholders.
  • Vennootschap onder firma (VOF): a general partnership is a partnership entered into between jointly and severally liable partners who have unlimited liability. All decisions must be taken unanimously, unless the partnership agreement provides for decisions to be taken by a majority.
  • Commanditaire vennootschap (CommV): a limited partnership is a partnership entered into between one or more jointly and severally liable partners who have unlimited liability, referred to as managing or limited partners, and one or more partners limited to contributions in cash or in kind, referred to as silent or limited partners. The managing partners are involved in the management. The silent partners are not involved in the management. All decisions must be taken unanimously, unless the partnership agreement provides for decisions to be taken by a majority.

The most common forms of associations are:

  • Vereniging zonder winstoogmerk (VZW): a non-profit association is a group of natural persons or legal entities pursuing a charitable goal. The non-profit association consists of at least two persons.
  • Internationale vereniging zonder winstoogmerk (IVZW): an international non-profit association is a group of natural persons or legal persons that pursues a charitable goal of international benefit.

You can find more information in the ‘VZW’ publication on the FPS Justice website.

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Updated on 12 December 2020

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