The Kingdom of Belgium is a beautiful northwestern European country, 18 times smaller than one of its neighbours, France. Its population in 2022 was over 11.765 million, and it hosts the European Union (EU) headquarters and NATO. It also shares borders with the Netherlands, Luxembourg and Germany and has a coastline on the North Sea.
Belgium, as with all nations, protects its borders and documentation is required to enter, whether for holidays, family visits or work purposes. EU and European Economic Area (EEA) citizens and the Swiss come under the freedom of movement agreement and do not require work permits or visas. However, they need a valid passport or National ID for their stay. Some 90 other nations’ citizens can travel visa-exempt for tourism and business purposes for 90 days in 180 days. However, from 2023, they require a European Travel Information and Authorization System (ETIAS) visa waiver. Around 150 countries’ nationals need to apply for a Schengen visa.
Non-EU/EEA/Swiss nationals (a.k.a. Third Country Nationals – TCNs) who are living outside Belgium require a job offer with an employment contract, a Work Permit or Single Permit (combined residence permit) and an entry visa (D Visa). This can be a complicated process for the uninitiated, and companies expanding into the region find Visas and work permits for Belgium to be a significant issue, especially as there are three legislative regions – Flanders, Wallonia, and Brussels-Capital region – that have their legislatures.
Organising documentation, moving staff worldwide, or recruiting within the new territory, would require an in-house specialist team. Many companies do not have these resources or the time; this is where Bradford Jacobs can help. As a Professional Employer Organisation (PEO) with Employer of Record (EOR) platforms and specialists, we have resources and the time. We are your specialists in hiring staff and ensuring employees meet Belgian work visa and permit requirements with the correct paperwork. As well as having a comprehensive knowledge of work documentation procedures, we keep abreast of changes to the systems and laws, which can be costly if contravened.
Citizens of the European Union (EU), the European Economic Area (EEA), or Swiss nationals do not require work permits or visas to enter, stay or work in Belgium. However, they must hold a passport or national ID card valid for their stay and if they are required to register for longer than three months. They can also apply for a foreigner’s ID card. Generally, citizens whose countries do not have a ‘visa-free’ travel agreement or are not part of the Schengen area require a visa to enter Belgium.
Main Visa Categories:
Schengen Visa or Short Stay C Visa: 90-day visa in any 180 days. To visit family, for tourism, business or transit plus others.
Work Visa D Category: To enter Belgium for more than 90 days (including work) applied for through local embassies, consulates and some authorised Visa Centers abroad.
To Work in Belgium
This depends on specific criteria, e.g., nationality, residence, duration of stay or whether an employee or self-employed.
Note: Work permits may be needed even if the employment is for less than 90 days.
Documentation required to work in Belgium
An Entry Visa (D Visa) PLUS one of the following:
Eligible categories of workers who can apply:
Workers need a Work Visa D Category to enter Belgium and obtain it through the Belgian embassy or consulate in their country of residence. This is attached or stamped in the passport with the purpose of the visit, length of stay and whether it is a single or multi-entry visa. To apply for this visa, a worker needs a work permit, which requires an employment contract. The employer applies for the Work Permit.
Three different legislative regions within Belgium have their own rules and regulations regarding work documentation, Flanders, Wallonia and Brussels. Foreigners wanting to work in Belgium should check with the Belgian embassies in their home country.
There are two categories of employment:
Note: Part-time or temporary workers must make a Limosa-1 Declaration when not coming under the Belgian social security system.
Four different types of Work Permits
Note: Since June 2021, all three regions have simplified the process for the Single Permit application online at the one-stop shop. All documents with the application form are dispatched to the region where the foreigner is employed.
Citizens of EU/EEA countries and Switzerland do not require work visas or permits but must register their stay in Belgium after three months and receive a Belgian ID Card, which is the E-Card.
For Third Country Nationals (TCNs) wanting to work in Belgium, their employers apply for a Work/Residence permit. Employees apply for the D Visa to enter Belgium after receiving permit approval. Short-term employment (less than 90 days) may also require a permit (Type B Work Permit), but there are exceptions, in which case a Limosa Declaration has to be made.
Work Permits for Long-Term Employment
How it works:
Before applying, check if the documents to be submitted with the application need the following:
General documents during the Single Permit process
Once the employer has submitted the application and documentation online to the One-Stop-Shop, they are checked regarding the employee’s and employer’s eligibility and passed to the Immigration office, which approves or rejects the Residence application and to the relevant Regional offices that grants the work permit. When both are approved, the Single Permit is also given, and the consulate or embassy abroad is notified so the employee can apply for the D Visa to enter Belgium.
Note: To sponsor a Work Permit for a Third national country, the company must be incorporated in Belgium. If not, then you need the expertise of an Employer of Record, such as Bradford Jacobs, who can hire workers and sponsor work permits in Belgium.
Documentation Required for D Visa to enter Belgium:
Photographs and biometrics can be taken at the consulate or embassy (or authorised Visa Centre).
When entering Belgium after receiving the D Visa with the stamp indicating which Single Permit has been approved, foreigners may also be asked at Border control for proof of funds for stay, accommodation address, return ticket, travel or health insurance, and cover letter from employer.
The EU Intra-Company Transfer was fully implemented in Belgium in December 2021 and followed the same procedure as the Single Permit, although there is no Labour Market Test. Both regional approvals for the work permit and immigration approval for the residence permit are required.