What is a liberal profession?

This is not an easy question to answer. There is no precise definition or a complete list of liberal professions. A person who practices a liberal or intellectual profession mainly provides intellectual services that cannot be described as commercial or artisanal.

A person who practices a liberal profession

  • acts in the best interest of the client and the communinity
  • is often subject to a code of ethics and specific legislation regarding the profession concerned
  • is personally liable for his professional deeds.
A person who practices a liberal profession usually does not engage in commcercial activities. This means that the business counter will register him a a non-commercial enterprise in the central business database (BCE). Non-commercial enterprises do not have to demonstrate basic business management knowledge or professional knowledge. The order or the institution that grants professional recognition will examine whether the self-employed person is suited to practice his or her occupation. A non-commercial enterprise does not always engage in a liberal profession. And vice-versa, a liberal profession is not always a 'non-commercial enterprise'. A real-estate agent is a lberal profession, but is also a commercial activity. This means that real-estate agents have to demonstrate basic business management knowledge when registering their business with the business counter, and are registered in the BCE as commercial enterprises. A child-care provider, on the other hand, is registered in the BCE as commercial enterprise even though this activity is not considered a liberal profession.

The following professions are basically regarded as liberal professions

  • bookkeeper, accountant, company auditor, tax consultant,
  • architect, land surveyor, real-estate agent,
  • lawyer, notary public, bailiff,
  • doctor, specialist doctor, dentist, medical labaratory, patient transport, parademic
  • physiotherapist, veterinary surgeon, pharmacist.

For certain liberal professions, the professional association forbids its members to exercise commercial activities, for example:
  • lawyer
  • notary public
  • bailiff
  • bookkeeper
  • bookkepper-tax specialist
  • accountant
  • tax consultant
  • company auditor

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