The exception: filing on paper

In practice, only 0,2% of all documents accepted by the National Bank of Belgium are still filed on paper. As mentioned before, the law provides for filing via the Internet as the rule rather than the exception.

Who can file on paper ?

As of 1 March 2009, in principle, only annual accounts and consolidated annual accounts, as well as any accompanying documents filed along with them, concerning the following entities may still be filed on paper:

  • a foreign partnership or a European Economic Interest Grouping established under international law
  • an enterprise whose turnover during the last accounting year, excluding value added tax, does not exceed the threshold of 500,000 euro. If the last accounting year runs for more or less than twelve months, the above-mentioned threshold figure is calculated on a pro rata basis (i.e. multiplied by a fraction whose denominator is 12 and whose numerator is the number of months in the actual accounting year in question, where each month that has already started will be counted as a whole month).
  • an association or foundation.

Acceptance or rejection of annual accounts or consolidated annual accounts filed on paper

The Central Balance Sheet Office accepts filings in hard copy as long as they meet all the conditions regarding form and the filing charges due are paid. The Central Balance Sheet Office then carries out a series of arithmetical and logical checks on the standard annual accounts. If the National Bank finds substantial errors in the filed accounts, then the company in question will be advised in writing to file a correction.

Formal requirements

For documents filed on paper, the following formal requirements apply. They must:

  • be printed in black ink only on the front sheets of good quality, white or off-white A4 paper
  • leave a blank margin of at least 1 centimetre around each page
  • leave a horizontal blank margin of at least 2 centimetres at the top of the front page
  • mention the company number of the legal entity at the top of each page
  • mention the word "correction" at the top of the first page if the filing concerns any correction of the accounts
  • contain no handwritten data apart from the signature
  • guarantee good legibility of the data by using large enough characters and a sufficiently sharp contrast between the data and the background
  • be signed on the front page by one or more persons qualified to represent the legal entity vis-à-vis third parties, mentioning the name and function of the signatories
  • in the event that the annual accounts of a legal entity whose accounts must be prepared according to the full format or abbreviated format for annual accounts: these accounts must have the same presentation as the model drawn up by the National Bank of Belgium.

Annual accounts on paper can be sent to the National Bank of Belgium at the address: National Bank of Belgium, Filing of annual accounts, boulevard de Berlaimont 14, 1000 Brussels.

Payment options

An annual account filed on paper can only be paid by bank transfer. Following procedure should be followed:

  • the annual account must be filed with an accompanying document in which the contact dates are mentioned (e-mail address and/or telephone number)
  • if all formal requirements are fulfilled, an employee of the Central Balance Sheet Office will phone
    or e-mail the contact person in order to supply following information:
    • the total sum due
    • the count number to which the sum should be paid
    • the ultimate date of receipt of payment.

    the filing charges can thus only be paid once the person who filed the annual account received the information allowing him to execute the bank transfer

  • the credit transfer should be made immediately on the basis of the information received
  • when the payment is made correctly, the annual account will be registered as accepted; in that case the date on which the Central Balance Sheet Office received the annual account will be considered as the official date of deposit.

"Notice of filing of the annual accounts" upon acceptance

Within eleven working days of the date of acceptance of the filing of the documents, the National Bank of Belgium sends a "Notice of filing of the annual accounts":

  • by post to the legal entity whose annual accounts or consolidated annual accounts have been accepted
  • through the Crossroads Bank for Enterprises to the Administration of the Moniteur belge/Belgisch Staatsblad, which publishes the notice in the Annexes to the Moniteur belge/Belgisch Staatsblad.

For enterprises, NPIs and foundations, the notice of filing of annual accounts counts as proof of filing and as evidence for the tax authorities.

Rejection of annual accounts or consolidated annual accounts filed on paper

The Central Balance Sheet Office rejects all annual accounts that do not meet all the conditions regarding form and/or if the filing charges are not paid on time.

In the event of rejection, the legal entity whose annual accounts or consolidated annual accounts have been rejected will be informed in writing of the decision within 8 working days following receipt. The letter of rejection will indicate which regulations have not been complied with. The filed documents and any payment that may have been made will be returned to the legal entity concerned.

If the annual accounts are filed through an intermediary on behalf of and on account of the legal entity concerned and they are submitted on paper, the filed documents are sent directly to the intermediary.

On rejection, the depositor or his intermediary would then have to go through the entire filing procedure for those annual accounts again. If this happens, the official filing date will change and this may affect the charge applied.

Correction of annual or consolidated accounts filed on paper

If necessary, a legal entity may, on its own initiative, arrange the filing of a correction or addition to the annual accounts previously accepted by the Central Balance Sheet Office.

The Central Balance Sheet Office conducts arithmetical and logical checks on abridged and full-format accounts. The procedure requires the National Bank to send to enterprises, NPIs or foundations which have filed their annual accounts on paper a written notification of the errors found in the annual accounts.

A distinction is made between substantial anomalies and simple anomalies.

Substantial anomalies are those which cannot be corrected on the basis of the data in the annual accounts. In such cases, the enterprise has to file corrected accounts within 2 months following the notification by the National Bank concerning the substantial anomalies.

In the case of simple anomalies (only), the enterprise is simply requested not to make similar errors when filing accounts in the future.

NPIs and foundations are not required to file corrections.

Substantial anomalies arise only in accounts filed on paper, or those filed electronically in PDF format. In the case of accounts filed electronically in the form of a structured data file (XBRL file) substantial anomalies are detected when the accounts are validated in the application, and any accounts containing such anomalies are automatically rejected.

The Central Balance Sheet Office can only accept corrections or additions filed if the following conditions are met:

  • the documents submitted must satisfy all the formal requirements and the fees due must be paid.
  • the corrected or additional sheets – and these only – must be preceded by the completed and signed sheet 1 of the full or abbreviated format. The top of this sheet and each subsequent sheet must be marked “CORRECTION”.