The status of Student Entrepreneur (Student-zelfstandige / Étudiant Indépendant) provides a reduction in social contributions for student entrepreneurs enrolled in higher education that have created a business. This status also offers them the possibility of keeping their health insurance coverage. The measure came into force in January 2017 and was inspired by a similar measure that was introduced in France in 2015.
The special status aims to encourage an entrepreneurial spirit among youth and make it easier for students to start a business by removing potential disincentives to self-employment. In particular, it aims to remove differences in access to social benefits between students working as employees and those who are self-employed.
The status is open to young people between 18 and 25 years old who are enrolled at a higher education institution in Belgium or abroad to receive a diploma recognised by the Belgian government. The status of student entrepreneur includes three main benefits for student-entrepreneurs whose annual income is below EUR 6 996.89. First, social security contributions are fully waived. Second, they are entitled to continue to receive family benefits, provided that they work less than 240 hours per school trimester on their business (no maximum for summer holidays in between school years). Finally, they maintain their rights to their parents’ health insurance. Student entrepreneurs with higher incomes (between EUR 6 996.89 and EUR 13 993.78) are not eligible for parental benefits or health insurance, but they benefit from a reduced social security contribution rate (20.5%).
On 31 December 2019, 7 203 people were registered as student entrepreneurs, representing a 15% increase compared to 2018. 42% of student entrepreneurs worked as Professionals (e.g. science and engeneering professions, health workers, business and administration jobs), 30% in Trade and 16% in Industry. These top three sectors of activities are similar to the overall make up of self-employed workers in Belgium in 2019.
This case study was adapted from material published in: OECD/European Union (2019), The Missing Entrepreneurs 2019: Policies for Inclusive Entrepreneurship, OECD Publishing, Paris, https://doi.org/10.1787/3ed84801