1. Why should international associations choose Brussels as their headquarters?



  • Corridors of power: As host city to the major European Institutions, international organisations and regional representations, Brussels enables all types of associations to reach their stakeholders at all levels and give exposure to their activities. The city is home to a huge diplomatic corps, journalist community and lobby groups, and also 1,700 international corporations operate Europe-wide from their Brussels-base, spawning a diverse business services sector.

  • Strategic location: Strategically located in the heart of Europe, Brussels is easy to reach by air, road and rail, but also easy to move around in. In this compact city, many places are within walking distance, or a short tram, bus or metro ride away.

  • Specialist in life sciences: Belgium has the world’s highest concentration of life science professionals and is the second largest pharma exporter in the world. With its world-famous university hospitals and concentration of international hi-tech and healthcare companies, Brussels is a pivotal centre for life sciences.



2. What kind of support is available for international associations in Brussels?

The Brussels Association Bureau is a one-stop shop and specific point of contact that provides valuable support for international associations. It is a multilingual expert service ready to guide you to the resources, training and connections that will enable your association to develop and reach its professional objectives.

  • One stop shop: Associations can obtain initial information on starting, developing and moving an association, receive guidance from various expert partners for all association management aspects, and obtain information relevant to their activities thanks to the Brussels Association Bureau’s single contact point.

  • Networking opportunities: Associations can meet representatives of more than 2,250 associations present in Brussels, and participate in events and platforms tailor-made for associations.

  • Association club: Associations can work and connect with peers in the “International Association Club”, a place for networking and experience-sharing among association representatives. Furthermore, they can obtain material of interest related to business, life or cultural activities in Brussels and use the resources of the one-stop-shop onsite.

  • Training and learning: Associations can meet and learn at the European Association Summit, the annual peer-to-peer event for associations, or join the Executive Master in International Association Management set up by Solvay Brussels School, and access details on training, information and continuous education for association representatives happening all year round.

  • Global Association Hubs Partnership (GAHP): Associations can benefit from the common platform setup by Brussels, Dubai, Singapore and Washington DC to grow and expand association presence across continents through joint initiatives among the partner destinations.

  • Marketing: Associations can display their activities through the communication channels managed by visit.brussels and other public authorities.

Other support services

The information service 1819 supports anyone who is starting or developing a business in the Brussels-Capital Region, including associations. 1819 advisors provide information and advice on different aspects such as financing, government grants for launch or expansion, selection of the appropriate legal form and social security status, administrative formalities, etc. In addition, they provide orientation on the network of institutions and organisations that is available to assist with the setup of businesses in Brussels.

Brussels-based associations can also access the services of the Centre for Companies in Difficulties (Centre des Entreprises en difficulté/Centrum voor ondernemingen in moeilijkheden). A team of specialised experts provides free assistance in various areas, such as legal, fiscal, financial, social or strategic advice, but also coaching, networking events and other types of support.


Organisations for networking, education and information

  • The European Society of Association Executives (ESAE) is the leading organisation in Europe bringing together association professionals. ESAE facilitates the exchange of best practices among peers and makes sure current and future leaders understand the association business and strategy.
  • The Federation of European and International Associations established in Belgium (FAIB) represents and supports European and international associations in Belgium in every possible way.
  • The Union of International Associations (UIA) maintains and provides comprehensive, up-to-date information on international associations, their activities, meetings and concerns, and supports and facilitates the work of international associations through training and networking opportunities.
  • Officially accredited social secretariats are non-profits that can guide and support associations with the administrative formalities required by Belgium employment law. A social secretariat also takes care of the collection of social security contributions and payroll taxes and ensures an accurate and correct dataflow towards the Belgian authorities in the name of, and for, the account of its clients/employers.
  • Brussels has an extensive ecosystem of service providers whose support is specifically geared towards international associations. This includes Association Management Companies (AMC), lawyers, accountants, event organisers (PCO), communication and public affairs consultancies.


The content provided in these answers is for general information only and it may not apply in a specific situation or to a specific transaction. Specific advice should always be sought before taking any action based on the information contained in this document. This information is not intended to create, nor does receipt of it constitute, an advisor (tax, legal or other advisor)-client relationship. Although visit.brussels and its Contributors have made every effort to ensure the accuracy of this document, neither visit.brussels nor the Contributors accept any responsibility for any errors or omissions contained herein or from consequences that may derive from errors, omissions, opinions or advice given in these answers. Although the information is accurate as at the date it was written, be advised that the topics covered in this document are ever-evolving and the information contained herein may not reflect current legal, tax, political or other development, case law or regulations.

Produced by Dentons Global Advisors, on behalf of visit.brussels.
Last update : 08/09/2020