Applying for a business permit
Many partners and spouses arrive in Luxembourg and decide that starting up their own business is a dream they longed to fulfil, or a better way to work more flexibly around childcare.
Before we cover how to apply for a business permit, take a look at our article on Starting a Business and the other on tax and social security for independents (as you don’t need a business permit to operate freelance in some professions).
Who should apply for a business permit?
A business permit is required by a person who wants to engage in professional activities as self-employed or as a company. This includes commercial activities such as trades (plumber, electrician) or in the HORESCA industry (hotel, restaurant or café), and for other services like transport.
Permits are required for some areas in food, construction, mechanical engineering, audio visual and entertainment . Some liberal professions may require a business permit such as an architect, chartered accountant or surveyor. You can check which professions require a permit here.
A professional operating under their own name or a person who has ties to a business, that is an employee, owner, partner or shareholder in a company.
There are also special cases which require you to get a business permit. Self-employed sales agent require a permit as traders but their salaried representatives don’t, if they carry out activities under the permit granted to their employer.
Lawyers, doctors, dentists, vets and statutory auditors are covered by different laws, whilst those in liberal professions not required to apply for a business permit such as a freelance writer, must do so for specific commercial activities.
If you’re planning to sell your own handiwork, from crafts, art, pottery, jam, honey or birthday cakes, you won’t need a business permit so long as you did not purchase a product for commercial purposes, that is, you imported a ready-made product to resell in Luxembourg.
However, if you want to participate in fairs and markets or you plan to operate a dedicated website to sell your goods online, you’ll need to get a permit for these commercial activities.
If you’re a non-EU national who has set up as self employed in Luxembourg you should submit your business permit application together with your application for authorisation to stay as a self-employed person.
Conditions of a business permit
You must fulfil the following:
- Professional integrity which should guarantee the integrity of the profession and protect partners and clients. If you’ve lived in Luxembourg for more than 10 years, this will take the form of a Declaration of Honour. If you’ve lived here less time, you’ll need this, plus a declaration of non-bankruptcy from a notary, and a criminal extract record. You can find out more here.
- A professional qualification in line with the planned activity – for trade, liberal professions that require a permit, and for craftspeople.
- If you want to run a restaurant or shop, you’ll need to show you have a physical installation in Luxembourg that has a suitable infrastructure – this might mean that your kitchen needs to meet certain standards if you plan to bake cakes and sell them.
- The permit holder needs to show that they will be the permanent manager of the business, personally and regularly responsible for the day-to-day management and direction of the company. If you don’t live in Luxembourg but have appointed a representative to do this, that may not be enough to entitle you to a business permit, unless they are a partner, shareholder or employee.
- You must have complied with tax and business obligations in previous or current business activities.
- You must file the articles of association with the Trade and Companies Register (RCS), there are offices in the city and Diekirch.
How much does a permit cost?
You will be asked to pay stamp duty for the issue of a business permit of €24. You can buy this as a stamp from the Registration, Duties, Estates and VAT authority at Avenue Guillaume, or you can pay by fund transfer, the details of which are given here. Remember to attach proof of payment to your application.
What if I move address? This is not a problem; you simply notify the General Directorate for Small and Medium Enterprises and they will issue a new permit free of charge.
Filing your business permit application
You can apply for a permit in two ways:
1. Via MyGuichet using a LuxTrust product. The system will determine which supporting documents you must submit depending on the information you have entered.
2. By post to the General Directorate for Small and Medium Enterprises
Need help with the application?
You can contact the House of Entrepreneurship which is part of the Chamber of Commerce in Luxembourg, and make an appointment for someone to help you.
If you’re in a skilled trade, you can also contact this team at the Chamber of Skilled Trades and Crafts. You can call the helpline at the General Directorate for SMEs on 247 74 700 Monday to Friday from 9.00 to 12.00 and 13.00 to 17.00.
How long will it take?
You should usually receive your permit within three months of submitting a complete application. According to the Guichet web page, if you don’t hear from them, you can take this as a tacit authorisation.
If you’re a sole trader, you’ll be notified by post and can collect your permit from the CCSS centre, where you can then register as a self-employed person. For a company, the permit will be sent to the registered office.
What to do with the permit
Permits take the form of a card which must be kept permanently on the site where the business is operated. You should use the authorisation number on the permit on all letters, emails, websites, quotes, invoices and on any other storefronts or premises.
If you are refused a permit, you can appeal.
How long does a business permit last?
Your permit will last for as long as you operate your business. It will expire if it is not used for 2 years, or if you cease trading or the activity for which the permit was granted, and of course, if your company goes into liquidation or is declared bankrupt.
Can I change an existing business permit?
If you change or extend the nature of your business you will need to request a new permit, including if you appoint a new company director. You should also notify the GD for SMEs, if you plan to open a new premise, change the company name, business address or its legal structure.