Planning permission

Retail trade and the socio-economic permit (SE1 or SE2)

A retail business in Belgium may require an operating permit based on the law of 13th of August 2004, in application since the 1st of March 2005 concerning retail business premises. This new law replaces the laws of 29 June 1975 and 23 June 1994 and stipulates that a socio-economic permit is required for a solitary establishment (SE1) or a commercial complex (SE2) exceeding a net sales floor area of 400 m2. The net sales floor area is the area that is destined for sales end open to the public and includes (in addition to the previous law) also the outside sales area. This obligation does not apply to exclusive wholesale activities, nor to so called "public-oriented services" such as travel agencies, hairdressers, banks, or hotel and catering establishments.

When the net sales floor area remains between 400 m2 and 1.000 m2, only the Mayor and Deputies Mayor College (MDMC) is competent in delivering the socio-economic permit and must notify his decision within 50 days following the introduction. When the net sales floor area exceeds 1.000 m2, first a collegial and motivated (but not constraining) advice is made up by the National Social and Economic Committee (NESC). In that case the Mayor and Deputies Mayor College must notify their motivated decision within 70 days after the certification stating that the file is complete.

An administrative appeal can be lodged by the applicant or the NESC against the decision of the MDMC (or against the absence of that decision), by registered mail addressed to the Minister in charge of Economic matters in a delay of 20 days following either the notification or at expiration of the delay.

The socio-economic permit is required before the business starts. The applicant starts the procedure by submitting a series of forms and documents to support and justify his project to the municipality where it is to be located.

Moreover, a very detailed market study has to be conducted by the applicant covering the points mentioned at the last page of the application form provided by the Ministry of Economic Affairs ( The questions raised in the form have been designed with regard to the criteria listed in the Royal Decree of 5 October 2004.

The law provides also in a simplified procedure for projects responding to a "normal" commercial development such as moves within a distance of 1.000 m in the same municipality and extensions of maximum 20% with a maximum of 300 m2 net sales floor area. This procedure provides in a simple declaration in the municipality where the project is located.

Fastigon is the undisputed leader to serve various clients in these planning permission procedures from start to finish. Since 1994 more than 300 missions were started. The company has detailed information on more than 4.000 procedures ended over the last 15 years in your city or commune. Contact us for more information (EN - NL - FR).

Relevant missions are:

Look at to get official information from the Ministry of Economic Affairs on the socio-economic law and the SE-application forms.