Company formats

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

The most common company forms are the following (fr):

  • Société anonyme (SA) (public limited company): the société anonyme is a company in which at least two shareholders are prepared to invest. This company form is chosen chiefly by big companies but also by SMEs. 
  • Société privée à responsabilité limitée (SPRL) (limited liability company): The Société privée à responsabilité limitée is established by one or more people who are only connected by their investment. The rights of the partners can only be transferred under certain conditions. This company form can be established by one single natural person.
  • Société privée à responsabilité limitée "starter" (SPRL-S) (start-up limited liability company): the SPRL-Starter is reserved for natural persons who don't always have sufficient financial resources to establish their company. This form is intended to encourage the establishment of new companies and at the same time safeguard the entrepreneur's private and family possessions from business risks.
  • Société coopérative à responsabilité limitée ou illimitée (SCRL or SCRI) (Co-operative company with limited or unlimited liability): the société coopérative is a company the members of which work on shared objectives and share common values. It is a specific form of commercial company characterised by a variable number of partners and capital.
  • Société en nom collectif (SNC) (general partnership): the société en nom collectif is a company established by jointly and severally liable partners. Its corporate purpose is exercising a civil or commercial activity under a company name. Every decision must be made unanimously.
  • Société en commandite simple (SCS) (Ordinary Limited Partnership): the société en commandite simple has working and sleeping partners. The working partners manage the company. The sleeping partners are financial backers but have no say in the management.
  • Société en commandite par actions (SCA) (Limited partnership with share capital): the société en commandite par actions is a company established by one or more jointly and severally liable partners, referred to as managing partners, and one or more sleeping partners who provide a specific investment.


The most common associations are the following:

  • Association sans but lucratif (fr) (ASBL) (non-profit organisation): an association sans but lucratif is a group of natural persons or legal entities with a selfless purpose. The ASBL comprises at least three people.
  • Association internationale sans but lucratif (fr) (AISBL) (international non-profit organisation): the association internationale sans but lucratif is a grouping of natural persons or legal entities with a non-profitable international purpose.