The prescription system or statute of limitation is a system whereby a debt is extinct.  That means that the debt remains but it is extinct for tribunals and the payment cannot be enforced any more (the debt, being “extinct” becomes a “natural obligation”).

Note: the statute of limitation applies to other aspects of law (like crime) but this website focuses on receivables.

In commercial matters, the counter starts either at the end of the delivery of goods or service or at the invoice due date.

For commercial claims in Belgium, the terms of limitations are 10 years for contractual obligations and 5 years for non-contractual obligations (e.g. damage caused to a third party).

These general terms have many exceptions:

  • Attorney, experts’ fees: 5 years
  • Bailiffs: 1 year
  • Delivery to consumers, except food: 1 year
  • Health services: 2 years
  • Insurance contracts: 5 years
  • Interests on a debt: 5 years
  • Loans (consumer credit): 10 years
  • Mobile telephony: 5 years
  • Periodic invoicing (i.e. monthly, annually): 5 years
  • Public utility services: 5 years
  • Rents indexation: 1 year
  • Restaurants, hotels: 1 year
  • Schools & boarding schools: 1 year

Interruptions of the term of limitation: the timing can be interrupted (i.e. reinitialized to 0) by various actions (for instance a payment).  It can also be suspended (i.e. extended; for instance, by a specific “attorney letter” according to the 2013 law).


Updated on 6/02/17

Definitions provided under this section refer to the Belgian situation; unless specified otherwise. The texts are meant to summarize concepts in daily language and should not be considered as comprehensive or definite. We welcome suggestions for modifications or additions at