The Decree on Assistance to Self-Employed (BBZ) covers the financial assistance that local authorities can give to self-employed entrepreneurs. The form of the financial support differs from one situation to another.

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The conditions to be eligible for the BBZ are:

  • Your enterprise must be able to stand on its own feet after the BBZ.
  • You must satisfy the criterion of a minimal number of hours (at least 1225 hours of work in your company or profession).
  • There is no more assistance available via a bank or guarantee fund.

For whom
The BBZ is an allowance for self-employed entrepreneurs in all of the different phases of their entrepreneurship. Application forms for the BBZ can be obtained via the Social Services department of the local authority in which you reside. The BBZ is for four categories of self-employed.

Self-employed who are starting up in business
The BBZ is possible for people with an unemployment or social security allowance who want to start up an enterprise or in an independent profession. If the enterprise is feasible, the following possibilities exist:

  • Periodical allowance: a periodical allowance in the form of an interest-free loan for a maximum of 36 months.
  • Company capital: maximal interest-bearing loan of € 35.549 (in 2016).
  • An allowance to cover expenses for guidance.

The local authority can make an allowance available in the first year after starting up for guidance or offer assistance to entrepreneurs who are starting up if they lack certain knowledge or skills. It can also do so during the preparatory period in the form of an orientation for a maximum of one year before the start of the enterprise, such as payment for courses and the possibility of being exempt from the obligation to apply for paid employment.

Assistance to established self-employed

The main forms of BBZ for the established self-employed are:

  • Periodical allowance: Topping up the income to the level of social security for a maximum of 12 months, with a maximal extension of 24 months. In principle this allowance is interest-free.
  • Company capital: A company capital to a maximum of € 193,089 (in 2016) in the form of an interest-bearing loan. This loan has to be rapid within a period of ten years. The interest is 6 per cent.
  • Guarantee: The local authority can act as a guarantor for the bank in the case of company capital.

Older self-employed with an enterprise that is no longer profitable
The BBZ is possible for those aged 55 years or older with an enterprise that is no longer profitable and with an income below the level of social security. This is limited by the following conditions:

  • The enterprise must have been in existence for at least ten years.
  • The gross income from the enterprise averages a maximum of € 7,669 per annum (as of 1 January 2016).

Self-employed who are forced to close down their enterprise
The BBZ is possible if a self-employed person is forced to close down his enterprise or stop practising his profession. The following conditions apply:

  • Maximal 12 months supplementary benefit to live on.
  • The closing down of the enterprise or ceasing to practise the profession must take place within the period of receipt of supplementary benefit.

BBZ and personal savings
In principle personal savings are not an obstacle to a BBZ allowance. If you have personal savings and want to make use of the BBZ, you should contact your local authority.

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