Working in Brussels

working in brusselsExpats working in Brussels will find themselves in a fast-paced, demanding and aggressive business environment.

As home to the European Union and the headquarters of NATO many expats move to the metropolis to pursue positions with one of these institutions or a related company or service. There are countless local, regional and national representations of these bodies that attract Europeans as well as expats of other descent; not to mention, opportunities with NGOs, consultancy and communication companies, and translation and recruitment organisations.

Some resources estimate that as much as ten percent of the city's population is in fact made up of highly skilled expats working in an EU institution or similar entity.

Expats tend to relocate briefly to elevate their career and to gain some professional experience, and then will return to their home country after as little as six months or as much as four years.

It also follows, that expats working in Brussels are job-driven, highly paid and generally young. For this reason, the city can be quite transient and though large and work-oriented, the international community is not incredibly tightly knit.

Expats working in Brussels will be relieved to find that the actual act of doing business is fairly laid-back. The majority of the professional world speaks English, the city is small and compact enough to get around easily, and everyone loves a business lunch meeting - set aside two hours on a Friday. Belgians are not averse to a midday glass of wine or two.

What's more, employees in Brussels are entitled to more legal protection and social benefits than other examples of the western working world, like the US or the UK. In Belgium, workers can be granted as much as five to six weeks of vacation time.

It is important for expats to remember that Brussels is still a bilingual and multicultural work environment despite its reliance on English. Though it's not necessary to learn another language, it should be noted that the Francophone side of business tends to be more formal and the Dutch side more informal. Be sure to have plenty of business cards as well.

You are required to have a work visa to commence employment. This can be applied for at the Belgian consulate in your country. EU Nationals can work without a permit in Brussels.

It could be next to impossible to find a job outside the city of Brussels without speaking Flemish.

Become our local expat expert for your area!

Expat Arrivals is looking for contributors to make this the ultimate guide for international expats.

If you are an established expat who could make time to write useful information for expats in your city and answering forum questions from new and prospective expats, please contact us.

As our local expert you can have your profile showing on each page you publish, and will have an option to promote your website or blog.

Got a question about your new country?

Search Expat Arrivals