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Though EU citizens don't need a work permit, non-European expats are able to apply for three kinds of work permits for Belgium.
Application forms for work permits in Belgium are obtained from the relevant employment agency in the region of the country the expat intends to work. These offices include Forem in Wallonia, Actiris in Brussels and the Dienst Migratie in Flanders.
Work permits for non-European citizens
Non-European nationals will need a work permit to be legally employed in the country. It's usually the responsibility of the Belgian employer to receive authorisation to hire a foreign worker and apply for a work permit on their behalf.
Once their employment has been authorised by the relevant authorities, the expat employee can then apply for a Schengen Type D visa which enables them to enter the country and stay temporarily. While some other types of Schengen visas can be used to enter other Schengen countries as well as the country of application, the D visa is generally limited to one country. This visa must be applied for at a Belgian embassy or consulate in the expat’s home country.
There are three work permit options for expats in Belgium. Work permit type A is a long-term permit for expats who have legally worked in the country for four consecutive years. Work permit type B, which most expats moving to Belgium will require, is limited to work for one employer for a period of one year. Renewals must be applied for one month before the initial permit expires. Work permit type C, also valid for a year, is usually granted to expats staying in Belgium temporarily, such as students wanting to work during the holidays and refugees.
Work permits for European citizens
Citizens of the European Union (EU) or European Economic Area (EEA) don’t usually require a work permit for Belgium. European citizens working in Belgium must have a full EU or EEA passport or identity card. These nationals are free to enter Belgium for up to three months to look for work or set up a business. Those staying for more than three months are required to register at the local town hall in their city of residence in Belgium.
An EU or EEA national is usually granted a temporary residence permit which is valid for three to five months. This can be renewed for a further three months once the expat has secured employment and registered with the Belgian Social Security system. After this, expats in Belgium can apply for an identity card and can be officially registered in the foreign population register.
*Work permit regulations are subject to change at short notice and expats should contact their respective embassy or consulate for the latest details.
Are you an expat living in Belgium?
Expat Arrivals is looking for locals to contribute to this guide, and answer forum questions from others planning their move to Belgium. Please contact us if you'd like to contribute.
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