The status of artist

Did you know that the status of artist is not a separate status within the social security system? As an artist, you choose the status of employee or self-employed person.  This choice has consequences for your social security contributions and social protection (including unemployment), your taxes and whether or not you have to charge VAT.

Social Security statuses in Belgium

In Belgium there are three statuses:

·        Employee status: an employee is bound to his or her employer by a contract of employment. There is a relationship of authority.

·        Civil servant status: people who work for the public sector and are permanently appointed (or an equivalent status).

·        Self-employed person status: a person who does not work as an employee or civil servant but still has a professional activity.  There is no relationship of authority between the self-employed person and the client.

Artist: employee or self-employed person


Whether you work as a self-employed person or employee is related to whether or not the relation involves authority.

But there is a special rule for artists (article 1 bis NSSO law). According to this article the artist can still be protected as an employee even if there is no relation of authority and no employment contract can be concluded.

Whether there is a relation of authority is a matter of facts, which is evaluated case by case by the judge or the social ruling committee. Therefore, we can not give you a final answer to whether there is a relation of authority in the context of your artistic activities.


This means concretely for an artist that he, in case of commissioned work, he can reach an agreement with the client to conclude an employment contract.

If no employment contract can be concluded, the artist shall still be considered an employee provided that:

·        They provide an artistic service and/or produce an artistic work (e.g. performances, painting portraits).

The artistic nature of this performances or works must be demonstrated by means of an artist visa issued by the Artist Committee.

·        They work for a natural person or a legal entity.

·        They receive a salary (no expense reimbursement!).

In that case the client is considered to be the employer.


The artist can in case of commissioned work, in the absence of an employment contract, also choose to work as a self-employed person. He is free to request a declaration of self-employed activities from the Artist Committee to this end.

If there is no assignment, there will be no options either.

Status of artist?

The status of artist is therefore not a separate social security status (with separate social security contributions and separate social security protection). An artist is fitted into the existing statuses (employee or self-employed person). 

Many artists understand by the status of artist the fact that if they have a commission and they are working as an employee combined with the fact that  if they do not have a commission they fall back on unemployment benefits. The unemployment regulations grant particular benefits to artists.  This is actually not the status of artist, but a consequence of it (if you work as an employee, you build up rights to unemployment benefit).

The status of artist



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