Moving to Belgium
With a relatively relaxed approach to foreign investors, Brussels is where the European Union sits and as such Belgium gains a lot of interest, and thus trade, from the rest of Europe. One of the most prosperous countries on the continent it is an extremely cosmopolitan country which may go some way to explaining its strong free market approach when it comes to foreign investors and start-ups.
Political System: Constitutional Monarchy
Capital City: Brussels
Total Area: 30.53 km2
Belgium is a federal state divided into three distinct communities. Whilst it is a small country in the west of Europe it is at the heart of the European Union, sharing borders with Germany, the Netherlands, France and Luxembourg. Some 40% of its citizens speak French as their first language, 60% speak Dutch and 1% German.
The capital Brussels is the home of the main EU institutions and a city where key policy decisions are made.
Belgium is a modern economy that is well placed for travel and transportation in an excellent geographic position. The country has limited natural resources and as a result is a major importer of raw materials to its industrial base in the north of the country. Its key industries include engineering, motor vehicle assembly, transportation, scientific instruments, processed food and beverages, basic metals, chemicals, textiles and glass.
Having suffered in 2008 and 2009 in the wake of the crisis experienced globally the country experienced a 2.1% improvement in GDP during 2010.
Typically, moving to Belgium is a 3-step process: first you obtain a work permit (separate card), than you get a visa (stamp in passport) and once you have moved in to your permanent address, you request a residence permit from the local town hall.
We offer the following services in Belgium:
- Work Permits
- Business Visas
- Residence Permits
- Professional cards
Employment permission is requested by the employer, or by our specialists representing the employer. Once the permission (official letter) is received by the employer, the employee receives a work permit (card).
The work permit is for one specific employee, linked to one specific employer. If you change employer, you must request a new work permit.
The work permit is valid for one year, after this period a new card may be requested. With the exception of “highly qualified” workers, “leading positions” and EU citizens (though not Rumanians or Bulgarians), there is an immigration stop in Belgium that has been in force since 1974.
The employee must be abroad when being offered a job and when applying for work permission and a permit, i.e. an employment contract must be signed. With a work permit, one can then obtain a visa to travel to Belgium.
An extensive list of conditions must be met, before the work permit is taken into consideration, such as medical certificate, minimum income, university diplomas.
If all documents are correct, it takes between 4 to 6 weeks to go through the full process.
We provide procedural information and coordinate the collection of all documents. As soon as all the paperwork is ready, we represent the employer in the preparation and filing of the application. Upon approval of the application, we also collect the work permit and deliver it to your Belgian office.
Europeans, except Bulgarians and Rumanians, do not need a work permit, or a visa.
All other nationalities will have to produce a number of documents, including a work permit and proof of a blank criminal record, to the Belgian Embassy of their actual place of residence, in order to obtain a working/living visa to enter the country.
Most embassies deliver a visa in 3 working days.
The application for a Belgian visa needs to be made while still abroad and in most countries it also requires a personal visit to the Belgian Embassy/Consulate. We can help you on your way by providing procedural information, contacting the Embassy to obtain further information and helping with the application preparation.
With a work permit and a visa, one can start the obligatory procedure of registering as a foreign citizen in the local town hall of his place of residence. A number of documents must be produced, including a signed rental agreement. Every town hall follows a different procedure for appointments, timing, follow up, opening hours, but all of them order a police investigation in order to check whether the person – and his family – lives at the indicated address, in a place that provides sufficient comfort and hygiene.
Typically, the procedure starts with a first visit at the town hall, a police inspection, a second visit to the town hall to officially start registering, and a third visit to pick up the residence permit. Timing varies from 6 weeks to 6 months. A residence permit is valid as long as the work permit, and needs to be renewed in due time.
All foreigners staying in Belgium for more than 90 days need a residence permit (electronic chip card for foreigners introduced in 2008). We provide procedural information and coordinate the collection of all necessary documents. We will also make an appointment for the first town hall visit (if possible) and accompany you to the town hall.
Follow-up visits are scheduled to suit the requirements of each town hall, until you can collect your residence permit/electronic ID card.
Instead of a work permit, one can also apply for self-employed status, i.e. start or buy a business. This procedure is federal/national, and needs to be initiated in the Belgian Embassy abroad.
The list of documents to be produced is similar to the ones needed for a work permit and a visa, though proof must be provided that the business activity adds value for the Belgian market, and that the applicant is qualified to manage the business.