As a result of early internet infrastructure development, e-commerce is freely accessible in Belgium. High levels of broadband and cable access for high-speed internet is readily available in Belgium. In 2009, Belgium ranked sixth-highest broadband penetration rate in the European Union at 26 percent. However, despite the growth that has been seen in high-speed internet services, Belgium has overall low total internet penetration. According to a 2009 report from the European Commission, 21% of Belgian internet users ordered goods or services over the internet in 2009, far below the EU average of 32%.
The need to tailor offerings according to local laws, culture, and in two languages (French and Dutch), combined with a small population, make Belgium a difficult market for those entering the EU e-commerce division. However, in February 2008, eBay introduced a system to allow users in Belgium to register using an electronic identity card instead of a credit card. Using this government-issued electronic identity card, known as eID, provides greater proof of identity and security in exchange of electronic data. Such increased security provides greater trust in the e-commerce market and may offer a boost in attractiveness.
Although in the past the Belgian government has lagged in providing online public services, it is catching up and now offers tax filings online. In addition, the Belgian government is updating its electronic procurement structure and public tenders can now be submitted online. It is expected to soon launch its completed online-procurement system for purchasing goods from approved suppliers.
Read the complete guide to Doing Business in Belgium