The Act of 16 January 2003 establishing the Crossroads Enterprise Database was published in the Belgian State Gazette on 5 February 2003. Legal entities are required to submit certain information to the Crossroads Enterprise Database (Kruispuntbank van Ondernemingen (KBO)/Banque-Carrefour des Entreprises (CBE)). If the information provided is incorrect or if information is not submitted, the company can be fined or otherwise sanctioned. The government recently introduced stricter supervision of KBO/CBE registrations.
Information to be filed with the KBO/CBE
All legal entities established under Belgian law, with either a permanent establishment in Belgium or subject to a registration requirement in Belgium, must register with the KBO/CBE. The information to be provided varies from one legal entity to another; however, in general, it includes the entity's name, address, date of establishment, corporate form, status (e.g. in bankruptcy, etc.), management, financial information, economic activities by NACE code, and other information.
Penalties for non-compliance
Each legal entity must keep its KBO/CBE registration up-to-date. Companies often fail to do so, however, and make internal changes without notifying the KBO/CBE. One example is when a company decides to close its Belgian establishment but neglects to update its KBO/CBE registration. This may look like an innocent mistake, but an incorrect registration or the absence of a registration can lead to a fine of up to EUR 10,000 multiplied by a coefficient (opcentiemen/centimes additionels) of 5.5, bringing the maximum fine to EUR 55,000. In addition, the government has recently tightened up its oversight of KBO/CBE registrations.
In addition to a fine, the law provides for other types of sanctions. For instance, a legal entity that is registered under the wrong NACE codes or fails to file a registration will find it difficult to bring a claim based on an activity for which it is not registered, as the opposing party can simply ask the court to declare the claim inadmissible. Regularisation of this situation before the court is not possible, meaning the legal entity must first update its KBO/CBE registration before it can file a new claim. The same holds true when a company is sued and wishes to file a counterclaim; if the counterclaim is based on an activity for which the company is not registered, it will be inadmissible.
Prevention is better than cure
It is advisable for legal entities to check whether their KBO/CBE registration is still up-to-date. An easy way to do this is to use the publicly accessible Public Search application. This application only retrieves basic information about a legal entity but is a convenient way of conducting a quick preliminary check. For a more thorough check, the legal entity can request a certificate from the companies register (ondernemingsloket/guichet d'entreprises) of its choosing, containing all information on file with the KBO/CBE. If the information appears outdated, the legal entity can ask the companies register to update it. That way, needless sanctions and costs can be avoided.