Cheques are hardly ever used anymore, due to the risk and expense of processing them - you may also have difficulties persuading your bank to issue cheques in the first place. There are two kinds of bank transfers, depending on whether you’re instructing the bank to pay money to someone else from your account (virement/overschrijving) or authorising the bank to let someone take money from your account (domiciliation/domicilie). Different forms are used to process the two types of transfer.
If you want to make a payment from your current account, you fill out a transfer form to instruct your bank to transfer money from your account to the account of the person or company you wish to pay. Payment is usually made within a day or a few business days at the latest.
Often when you receive a bill (facture/rekening) in the post, it includes a transfer form with the company’s bank details and the amount to be paid already filled in. You simply need to insert your own bank details and sign the form before giving or sending it to your bank (not back to the company).
To arrange for a standing order (ordre permanent/bestendige opdracht) contact your bank with the relevant payment information, including the bank account number of the person or company you want to pay. Standing orders are particularly handy for recurring payments such as your rent (in fact, your landlord may insist upon it) and utility bills (in that case, they are called“direct debits”). Where the monthly amounts vary, you can arrange to be sent a copy of the bill about a week before the scheduled payment so that you can contact your bank if you dispute the amount to be paid.
All forms of transfer can be made through a variety of ‘self-banking’ services now offered by most banks in Belgium. You can set up, authorise and change direct transfers, pay your bills and make transfers between accounts (including international transfers via the SWIFT system) using the phone, bank machines or your computer or smartphone. Some banks require you to download their software for generating payments or making other sorts of transaction that require validation. Other banks have secure websites where you can make almost every kind of transaction normally possible at a bank machine, except of course withdraw or deposit cash.