Belgium

Member Organizations

Member Organization Associate Other PAOs

  Institut des Experts-comptables et des Conseils Fiscaux – Instituut Van de Accountants en de Belastingconsulenten
  Instituut van de Bedrijfsrevisoren - Institut des Réviseurs d'Entreprises

Legal and Regulatory Environment

  • Overview of Statuatory Framework for Accounting and Auditing

    As a member of the European Union (EU), Belgium is subject to the accounting, auditing and financial reporting requirements established in EU Regulations and Directives as transposed into national laws and regulations. Belgium has fully aligned its legal framework with the EU acquis communautaire as it relates to accounting and auditing.

    Accounting Framework

    The Accounting Act of 1953 as amended in 2015 was published in the Belgian Official Gazette on December 30, 2015. It stipulates the requirements for preparation of financial statements, including applicable accounting standards and financial reporting thresholds. In accordance with the law, the Belgian Accounting Standards Board (BASB) is responsible for enacting financial reporting standards in Belgium.

    EU-endorsed IFRS are required for the preparation of separate and consolidated financial statements of all companies whose securities trade in a regulated market. Belgium also used the option to require EU-endorsed IFRS in the consolidated financial statements of credit institutions, insurance companies, and investment firms whose securities do not trade in a public market. It also permits EU-endorsed IFRS in the consolidated financial statements of companies other than those mentioned above whose securities do not trade in a public market. Entities that are not required to use EU-endorsed IFRS must use Belgian Generally Accepted Accounting Principles issued by the BASB.

    Auditing Framework

    The Belgian Chamber of Representatives voted a new law to fully implement the EU audit reform, comprising the Directive 2014/56/EU on statutory audits of annual accounts and consolidated accounts and Regulation (EU) No 537/2014 on specific requirements regarding statutory audit of public interest entities (PIEs), effective December 31, 2016.

    The new law is called the Act Regarding the Organization and Supervision of Statutory Auditors of 2016 (hereinafter “Audit Act of 2016”). It defines the scope of entities subject to mandatory audit requirements and establishes the Belgian Audit Oversight College (BAOC). Under the Act, PIEs in Belgium are defined as listed companies, credit institutions, insurance and reinsurance undertakings, and settlement organizations.

    According to the Audit Act of 2016, all large and medium-sized entities, that meet two of the basic criteria in two subsequent accounting periods are subject to mandatory audits: (i) an annual turnover in excess of EUR 9,000,000 (exclusive of VAT, instead of EUR 7,300,000); (ii) total assets over EUR 4,500,000 (instead of EUR 3,650,000); and (iii) more than fifty employees on average during the year. Small companies that meet only one of the audit criteria listed above are exempt from appointing a statutory auditor and are only required to draw up simplified annual accounts.

    All statutory audits must be conducted in accordance with the auditing standards drafted by the Belgian Institute of Registered Auditors (IBR-IRE) and approved by the BAOC and Minister of Economy, as required by the Audit Act of 2016. IBR-IRE reports on its website that ISA have been applicable in Belgium since 2009 and the 2016–2017 Handbook of International Quality Control, Auditing, Review, Other Assurance, and Related Services Pronouncements is now applicable in the jurisdiction. IBR-IRE reports to be currently working with the Compagnie nationale des Commissaires aux Comptes and the Conseil supérieur de l'Ordre des Experts-Comptables for a French translation of the standards as well as NBA Netherlands for a Dutch translation.

  • Regulation of Accountancy Profession

    The main laws, accompanied by various Royal Decrees, that regulate the Belgian accountancy profession are the (i) Accounting Act of 1953, as amended in 2015; (ii) Law of 1999 Concerning the Accountancy and Tax Professions (hereinafter “Law of 1999”); and (iii) Act Regarding the Organization and Supervision of Statutory Auditors of 2016 (hereinafter “Audit Act of 2016”).

    Accountants

    The Accounting Act of 1953, as amended in 2015, and the Law of 1999 set the main activities and responsibilities of the key organizations involved in the regulation of accountants which are the Institute of Accountants and Tax Consultants (IEC-IAB) and the Professional Institute of Accountants and Tax Accountants (IPCF).

    The Accounting Act of 1953, as amended in 2015, delegates accounting standard-setting authority to the BASB. As for the Law of 1999, it organizes the accounting profession into various categories of professionals, including accountants (preparers); tax consultants; bookkeepers; and tax accountants under the auspices of IEC-IAB and IPCF.

    In order to offer accounting and tax consultancy services, individuals must register and obtain a license from IEC-IAB. To become a member, candidates must (i) acquire a university level degree (or higher) that is recognized by the Flemish, French or German-speaking Community; (ii) complete a three (3) year internship at the institute or at least seven years of practical experience; and (iii) pass a final examination. Exemptions to the internship program are available on the website. The Law of 1999 grants IEC-IAB with responsibility for (i) implementing initial and continuing professional development requirements specified in the law for its members; (ii) providing training and licensing examinations; (iii) maintaining a registry for accountants and tax consultants; (iv) conducting an investigation and disciplinary system for its members to ensure compliance with educational and ethical requirements; and (v) keeping members informed of any revised or new accounting and ethical standards.

    In order to offer bookkeeping and tax accounting services, individuals must register and obtain a license from IPCF which can only occur after completing the IPCF training program, practical experience, and a final examination. IPCF may grant training program exemptions to persons with equivalent foreign licenses, however they must still pass a practical exam in order to be included in the IPCF registry. The Law of 1999 grants IPCF with similar responsibilities as the IEC-IAB.

    Auditors

    Auditors are regulated at the state level under the Audit Act of 2016. The law outlines the roles of the Belgian Institute of Registered Auditors (IBR-IRE), the Belgian Audit Oversight College (BAOC), and the Ministry of Education.

    Under the Act, IBR-IRE, under the supervision of BAOC, is delegated with the authority to (i) approve and register statutory auditors and audit firms; (ii) provide continuing professional development for auditors; and (iii) draft auditing and ethical standards for the BAOC and Minister of Economy’s approval and endorsement. Meanwhile, the BAOC is responsible for (i) approving and endorsing audit standards with the Minister of Economy; (ii) conducting quality assurance reviews for all registered auditors carrying out statutory audits of PIEs and non-PIEs; and (iii) conducting investigations of all auditors and directing cases to the Financial Services and Markets Authority Commission of Sanctions as needed.

    In order to practice as an auditor, the Audit Act of 2016 stipulates that an individual must: (i) be a citizen of a Member State of the European Union; (ii) be less than 65 years old; (iii) be free of any criminal convictions; (iv) possess a master’s degree from a Belgian university or equivalent foreign diploma; (v) complete three (3) years of practical training in auditing; (vi) pass a proficiency examination (which is administered by IBR-IRE); and (vii) take the auditor’s oath at the Court of Appeal. Individuals with equivalent foreign qualifications must pass an examination on company law, accounting law, and professional ethics as described in IBR-IRE’s Procedure for Foreign Professionals (2007).

  • Audit Oversight Arrangements

    The Act Regarding the Organization and Supervision of Statutory Auditors of 2016 (hereinafter “Audit Act of 2016”) established the Belgian Audit Oversight College” (BAOC) as the independent public audit oversight authority.

    The BAOC is responsible for (i) supervising all of the Belgian Institute of Registered Auditors’ (IBR-IRE) operations including the audit registry; (ii) supervising IBR-IRE’s continuing professional development for auditors; (iii) approving and endorsing audit and ethical standards with the Minister of Economy; (iv) conducting quality assurance reviews for all registered auditors carrying out statutory audits of public interest entities (PIEs) and non-PIEs; and (v) conducting investigations of all auditors and directing cases to the Financial Services and Markets Authority Commission of Sanctions as needed.

    BAOC is a member of the International Forum of Independent Audit Regulators.

  • Professional Accountancy Organizations

    Belgian Institute of Registered Auditors (IBR-IRE)

    IBR-IRE is a mandatory membership organization for auditors and audit firms established in accordance with the Accounting Law of 1953, as amended in 2015. The Act Regarding the Organization and Supervision of Statutory Auditors of 2016 grants IBR-IRE, under the supervision of the Belgian Audit Oversight College (BAOC), with the authority to (i) approve and register statutory auditors and audit firms; (ii) provide continuing professional development for auditors; and (iii) draft auditing and ethical standards for the BAOC and Minister of Economy’s approval and endorsement.

    IBR-IRE is a member of IFAC, Accountancy Europe, and the Fédération Internationale des Experts-Comptables Francophones (FIDEF).

    Institute of Accountants and Tax Consultants (IEC-IAB)

    IEC-IAB is a mandatory membership organization for accountants and tax consultants established in accordance with the Law Concerning the Accountancy and Tax Professions (Law of 1999). IEC-IAB is responsible for (i) implementing initial and continuing professional development requirements specified in the law for its members; (ii) providing training and licensing examinations; (iii) maintaining a registry for accountants and tax consultants; (iv) conducting an investigation and disciplinary system for its members to ensure compliance with educational and ethical requirements; and (v) keeping members informed of any revised or new accounting and ethical standards.

    IEC-IAB is a member of IFAC, Accountancy Europe, FIDEF, and the Confédération Fiscale Européenne.

    Professional Institute of Accountants and Tax Accountants (IPCF)

    IPCF is a mandatory membership organization for bookkeepers and tax accountants established in accordance with the Law of 1999. IPCF has similar responsibilities as the IEC-IAB above.

    IPCF is not part of IFAC membership and does not seem to be affiliated with any regional organization.

  • Projects or Other Information

    The Council of Ministers approved the preliminary draft law on the merger between Professional Institute of Accountants and Tax Accountants (IPCF) and the Institute of Accountants and Tax Consultants to form “Institute of Tax Consultants and Accountants.” As of the date of the assessment, IPCF reports that the draft is with the Council of State for feedback before being introduced in Parliament. Once the merger occurs, ‘current’ IPCF certified tax specialists will receive the professional title of “tax accountant,” IEC accountants will be given the title “certified public accountant”; and tax advisors will be given the professional title of “certified tax adviser”. All trainees of the merged institute will be required to enter an internship program to obtain the professional titles.

Adoption of International Standards

  • Quality Assurance

    The Act Regarding the Organization and Supervision of Statutory Auditors of 2016 (hereinafter “Audit Act of 2016”) stipulates that a quality assurance (QA) review system for all audits be stablished and operated by the Belgian Audit Oversight College” (BAOC).

    The BAOC conducts quality assurance reviews every three years on auditors of public interest entities (PIEs) and every six years on non-PIE auditors. BAOC reports in its 2017 annual report that it conducts risk-based quality control and that reviewers are either members of the Financial Services and Markets Authority (FSMA) or ‘are bound by a collaboration with the FSMA’. For PIEs, quality control is conducted by reviewers that are external to the profession.

    It appears that the QA review system is in line with the requirements of SMO 1 and the European Union’s 8th Company Law Directive on Statutory Audit.

    Prior to the enactment of the Audit Act of 2016, the Belgian Institute of Registered Auditors—the professional accountancy organization for auditors—was responsible for conducting a mandatory QA review system in the jurisdiction for all audits. At this time, it is unclear if the system is still operational but when functioning, it was in line with SMO 1 requirements.

    The Institute of Accountants and Tax Consultants (IEC-IAB)—the PAO for accountants and tax consultants— also established a practice review system to further ensure the quality of the services delivered by its members services related to mergers, acquisitions, or liquidations. The Quality Review Commission has been operational since June 2012 and IEC-IAB reports it aligns with SMO 1 requirements.

    Current Status: Adopted

  • International Education Standards

    The Law Concerning the Accountancy and Tax Professions (hereinafter “Law of 1999”) sets initial and continuing professional development (IPD and CPD respectively) for accountants (preparers); tax consultants; bookkeepers; and tax accountants; under the auspices of the Institute of Accountants and Tax Consultants (IEC-IAB) and the Professional Institute of Accountants and Tax Accountants (IPCF).

    In accordance with the Law of 1999, aspiring bookkeepers and tax accountants may only practice if they are registered in the IPCF which can only occur after completing the IPCF training program, practical experience, and a final examination. IPCF may grant training program exemptions to persons with equivalent foreign licenses, however they must still pass a practical exam in order to be included in the IPCF registry. All trainees and members of IPCF are required to complete a new cycle of four seminars each year. In 2018, IPCF requires that its members attend the following seminars for CPD and trainees the following seminars.

    Candidates for the profession of accountant and tax consultant are required to be members of IEC-IAB as per the Law of 1999 in order to practice. To become a member, candidates must (i) acquire a university level degree (or higher) that is recognized by the Flemish, French or German-speaking Community; (ii) complete a three (3) year internship at the institute or at least seven years of practical experience; and (iii) pass a final examination. Exemptions to the internship program are available on the website. IEC-IAB requires its members to complete 120 hours of CPD over three (3) years and monitors members’ fulfillment.

    For auditors, the Act Regarding the Organization and Supervision of Statutory Auditors of 2016 stipulates IPD and CPD.

    In order to offer auditing services, individuals must (i) be a citizen of a Member State of the European Union; (ii) be less than 65 years old; (iii) be free of any criminal convictions; (iv) possess a master’s degree from a Belgian university or equivalent foreign diploma; (v) complete three (3) years of practical training in auditing; (vi) pass a proficiency examination (which is administered by the Belgian Institute of Registered Auditors (IBR-IRE); and (vii) take the auditor’s oath at the Court of Appeal. Auditors must remain members of IBR-IRE and adhere to its rules and regulations in order to practice. IBR-IRE requires its members to fulfill 120 hours of CPD over a three-year period, which is monitored through the quality assurance review program.

    Individuals with equivalent foreign qualifications must pass an examination on company law, accounting law, and professional ethics as described in IBR-IRE’s Procedure for Foreign Professionals (2007).

    Overall, while some of the requirements of earlier versions of the IES appear to be in place, further information is needed to assess the extent of alignment and incorporation of the 2015 IES requirements, which emphasize learning-outcomes approaches.

    Current Status: Partially Adopted

  • International Standards on Auditing

    According to the Act Regarding the Organization and Supervision of Statutory Auditors of 2016 (hereinafter “Audit Act of 2016”), audits must be conducted in accordance with the standards set by the Belgian Institute of Registered Auditors (IBR-IRE) and approved by the Belgian Audit Oversight College” and Minister of Economy.

    IBR-IRE reports on its website that ISA have been applicable in Belgium since 2009 and the 2016–2017 Handbook of International Quality Control, Auditing, Review, Other Assurance, and Related Services Pronouncements are now applicable in the jurisdiction. IBR-IRE reports to be currently working with the Compagnie nationale des Commissaires aux Comptes and the Conseil supérieur de l'Ordre des Experts-Comptables for a French translation of the standards as well as NBA Netherlands for a Dutch translation.

    Current Status: Adopted

  • Code of Ethics for Professional Accountants

    The Act Regarding the Organization and Supervision of Statutory Auditors of 2016 (hereinafter “Audit Act of 2016”), and the Law Concerning the Accountancy and Tax Professions (hereinafter “Law of 1999”) delegate authority for setting ethical requirements to professional accountancy organizations.

    The Belgian Institute of Registered Auditors sets ethical requirements for auditors in line with the Audit Act of 2016. As of the date of the assessment, ethical requirements for auditors are reportedly in line with the 2009 IESBA Code of Ethics following the implementation of the EU audit reform.

    The Law of 1999 delegates authority to the Institute of Accountants and Tax Consultants (IEC-IAB) and the Professional Institute of Accountants and Tax Accountants (IPCF) to set ethical standards for their members. IEC-IAB requires its members to adhere to a Code that incorporates the requirements of the 2009 IESBA Code of Ethics. As for IPCF, more information is needed for clarification on ethical requirements it sets for members.

    Current Status: Partially Adopted

  • International Public Sector Accounting Standards

    According to EY’s Report Overview and Comparison of Public Accounting and Auditing Practices in the 27 EU Member States (2012), the Belgian central government follows the federal accounting and budgeting laws including the law of 22 May 2003 concerning the organization of the budget and governmental accounting and the Royal Decree on the execution of the law of 22 May 2003 concerning the chart of accounts.

    The accounting system is on an accrual basis at the central government level and for the Walloon and Brussels local government, for each component of the financial statements (except for cash flow statement). It is also true at the Flemish local government level, except for changes in net asset that are recorded on a modified accrual basis.

    The Belgian Institute of Registered Auditors reports that for the Belgian local authorities, regulation was passed in June 2010 which adopts an accounting system based on IPSAS.

    Current Status: Partially Adopted

  • Investigation and Discipline

    Under the Act Regarding the Organization and Supervision of Statutory Auditors of 2016 (hereinafter “Audit Act of 2016”), investigation and discipline (I&D) of auditors is performed by the Belgian Audit Oversight College (BAOC) who may conduct investigations and then refer cases for sanctioning to the Financial Services and Markets Authority as needed. As of the date of the assessment, the BAOC has only been operational for one year and more information is needed on its I&D system to determine alignment with SMO 6 best practices.

    Prior to the enactment of the Audit Act of 2016, the Belgian Institute of Registered Auditors—the professional accountancy organization for auditors—conducted I&D procedures in the jurisdiction for auditors. At this time, it is unclear if the system is still operational but when functioning, it was mostly in line with SMO 6 requirements. Its I&D mechanism was not able to incorporate the range of sanctions in SMO 6 due to limitations of the law.

    The Law of 1999 Concerning the Accountancy and Tax Professions (hereinafter “Law of 1999”) requires the establishment of a mechanism for investigating and disciplining accounting professionals. In accordance with the detailed requirements of the Law of 1999, the Institute of Accountants and Tax Consultants (IEC-IAB) established mechanisms for investigating and disciplining accountants and tax consultants for misconduct and non-compliance while the Professional Institute of Accountants and Tax Accountants (IPCF) established I&D mechanisms for bookkeepers and tax accountants.

    Accountants and tax consultants are subject to a Disciplinary Commission comprising a judge in the court of commerce, and two IEC-IAB members appointed by the Board that are responsible for maintaining professional discipline. The chairman is appointed by the King on the recommendation of the Minister of Justice. Sanctions can be imposed and determined by disciplinary bodies chaired by a magistrate. Appeals may be granted as stipulated in the Law of 1999.

    Complaints against bookkeepers and tax consultants, in line with the Law, are investigated by IPCF, reviewed by a Commissioner, and forwarded to the Executive Chamber, which hears and judges the cases.

    Professional accountancy organizations may request investigations by the Federal Police for any perceived infringements to the law. All persons who practice as accountants (preparers), tax consultants, bookkeepers, and tax accountants without being registered with the IPCF or IEC-IAB are subject to sanctions as per article 58 of the Law of 1999.

    While the I&D systems of both the IEC-IAB and the IPCF seem to generally be in line with SMO 6 requirements, additional information would help to clarify the full extent of alignment.

    Current Status: Partially Adopted

  • International Financial Reporting Standards

    As a member of the European Union (EU), Belgium is subject to the accounting, auditing and financial reporting requirements established in EU Regulations and Directives as transposed into national laws and regulations.

    EU-endorsed IFRS are required for the preparation of separate and consolidated financial statements of all companies whose securities trade in a regulated market. Belgium also used the option to require EU-endorsed IFRS in the consolidated financial statements of credit institutions, insurance companies, and investment firms whose securities do not trade in a public market. It also permits EU-endorsed IFRS in the consolidated financial statements of other companies whose securities do not trade in a public market.

    The Belgian Accounting Standards Board (BASB) is responsible for enacting financial reporting standards in Belgium in accordance with the Accounting Act of 1953 as amended in 2015 for all other entities. Entities that are not required to use EU-endorsed IFRS must use Belgian Generally Accepted Accounting Principles issued by the BASB.

    IFRS for Small and Medium Enterprises is not adopted in the jurisdiction and there are no known plans for adoption.

    Current Status: Adopted

Disclaimer

IFAC bears no responsibility for the information provided in the SMO Action Plans prepared by IFAC member organizations. Please see our full Disclaimer for additional information.

Methodology

Methodology
Last updated: 01/2019
We welcome feedback. Please email compliance@ifac.org

Thank you for your interest in our publications. These valuable works are the product of substantial time, effort and resources, which you acknowledge by accepting the following terms of use. You may not reproduce, store, transmit in any form or by any means, with the exception of non-commercial use (e.g., professional and personal reference and research work), translate, modify or create derivative works or adaptations based on such publications, or any part thereof, without the prior written permission of IFAC.

Our reproduction and translation policies, as well as our online permission request and inquiry system, are accessible on the Permissions Information web page.

For additional information, please read our website Terms of Use. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.