Belgium – How to recover unpaid receivables

Time to read: 3 min

Dealing with unpaid invoices can be challenging for any business. In Belgium, where judicial processes can seem daunting, understanding how to manage debt collection effectively is crucial. This article offers practical guidance derived from a comprehensive legal guide to help your company navigate Belgium’s judicial debt recovery landscape.

Understanding Your Options

Assess the Situation: Before taking legal action, evaluating the amount owed and the debtor’s financial status is essential. This assessment will guide you in choosing the appropriate legal avenue, as Belgium offers different courts and procedures based on the dispute’s value. For instance, for claims up to € 5,000, the local court or ‘justice de paix’, which is a court of first instance for minor civil cases, is typically used due to its cost-effectiveness and efficiency.

Send a Notice of Default: Under Belgian law, a notice of default is mandatory before initiating legal proceedings. This step adheres to legal requirements and gives the debtor one last chance to settle their dues without further legal complications.

Efficient Legal Procedures

Use Simplified Procedures for Small Amounts: A simplified legal procedure can be utilized for undisputed money debts up to €1,860, which expedites the payment request process significantly. This approach can be particularly advantageous for recovering smaller debts quickly.

Consider Direct Bailiff Intervention: For undisputed amounts, irrespective of their size, between companies, creditors can authorize a bailiff to recover the debt directly without a court judgment. This procedure reduces legal fees and speeds up the debt collection process.

Leveraging Legal and Financial Advice

Consult with a Belgian Attorney: Navigating the Belgian legal system can be complex. Consulting with a local attorney can provide insights into the most effective procedures tailored to your case. This is especially true for international debt collection, where regulations and guidelines vary significantly.

Prepare Necessary Documentation: Ensure you have all necessary documents, such as contracts, invoices, and payment records, organized. These documents are essential to support your claim, whether you are dealing with local or international debt recovery.

After Initiating Debt Recovery

Use Interim Measures: If immediate action is needed, interim measures like seizing bank accounts or assets may be applicable. These measures, which are temporary and can be requested even before legal proceedings, can ensure that the debtor’s assets are secured while the legal process unfolds.


Recovering debts through judicial means in Belgium requires understanding the legal landscape and an appropriate strategy based on the debt’s nature and amount. While this article provides practical guidance, it is important to note that each case is unique, and professional legal advice is recommended for complex debt recovery cases. Businesses can enhance their chances of successful debt recovery while maintaining financial stability by utilizing simplified procedures for smaller or undisputed debts and consulting with legal experts. This proactive approach ensures that your business can continue to thrive even in the face of financial adversity.

Ferenc Ballegeer
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