Visas in Belgium, a beginner’s guide

What are your options and which do you need?

If you’ve been keeping up with our Industry Updates, then you already know that moving to Belgium is a great idea. There’s some great places to live and the country is full of surprises. But how do you actually go about making the move?

Well, we’ve discussed the realities of visa applications before, but not what the visa options are or how to get one. In the coming months, we’ll be exploring the different types of visas in detail, but today let’s have a look at the range available as a whole.

which visa do I need to live and work in Belgium

'Short stay visas are for visits of under 90-days and can be used for vacation, work, study or hospital visits. You can pick these up from your local Belgian Embassy or Consulate.'

Do EU citizens need a visa to work in Belgium?

As with every country, there are many different options of visa in Belgium. But, depending on where you’re from will define what you do or don’t need to live, work or study here.

If you’re a citizen of an EU or EFTA country, then you won’t need a visa at all. With the agreements which are in place within these groups, you can work, travel, live and study freely in Belgium. However, you might need to report your arrival to the municipality at the local town hall within ten days of arrival.

When you plan to stay longer than 90 days, you’ll need a residence card, called an eID card. To get this, you will need to register with the Immigration Office. This can be quite a lengthy process, so we recommend doing this sooner, rather than later.

What type of visa do you need?

For those who are not an EU or EFTA citizen, there are two main types of visas in Belgium, the short stay and long stay.

Short stay visas are for visits of under 90-days, and are called Visa Type C. These can be used for vacation, work, study or hospital visits. You can pick these up from your local Belgian Embassy or Consulate and take a minimum of 15 days to arrange. We say minimum as they often take much longer, especially during the summer, so applying as early as you can is highly recommended.

Note that not every country needs one of these visas for vacations. UK, US, Canadian and Australian citizens don’t need them, for example. If you’re not sure, we recommend checking out the latest advice from the immigration office.

If you plan to stay longer than 90-days, then you’ll need a long stay visa. Called a Type D, these visas cover the whole range of reasons for staying in Belgium beyond three months, including work, study or visiting family.

Getting to work in Belgium

Working within Belgium is relatively simple if you’re from within the EU. However, if you’re from a third country and plan to work for more than 90-days, then you will need a work permit to be employed here.

There are several options depending on your contract term and planned status.

For Entrepreneurs, you’ll need a professional card in addition to the Type D visa to work in Belgium. These are issued by regional authorities, and you’ll need one in place before you start to trade here. It is necessary to have this card for any trade or to complete any business activities in Belgium.

Expats moving to Belgium for long-term work will need to have a fixed-term, single permit which will be completed by your employer. Again, this is in addition to the Type D visa. These permits can take many months to arrange, so it’s important that your employer starts the process well ahead of your proposed start date.

If you’re coming to Belgium to work periodically on a Schengen visa, then it’s possible to get a 90/180 work permit. With this, you can work for up to 90 days out of 180 in Belgium. Your employer will need to arrange this for you and, when you have it, you can use it to arrange a Type C short stay visa from your local embassy or consulate.

Visas for spouses and family

The Type D long stay visa is the one needed if you plan to join your spouse who is coming to work and live in Belgium in the long term.

Note that you will need to be able to prove your relationship and that you have sufficient funds to support your family and expenses to be successful with this application.

Studying in Belgium

Moving to Belgium to study will mean that you need a Type D visa. To receive this, you will need to be able to prove that you have been accepted to study at a recognised Belgian University or educational institutional. You will also need to be able to prove that you can sustain yourself financially whilst in the country.

Crucially, the visa will also enable you to work up to 20-hours per week during the academic period and longer during holidays.

Navigating the process

Arranging and completing your visa application in the shortest time possible can be a complicated and daunting proposition. That’s where our members come in.

If you’re planning to move to Belgium, we’d recommend you have a conversation with a relocation agent as soon as you can. They can support you through the visa application process and keep on top of it for you. They can also support you with the logistics of the move, finding a home, schools and settling into the country too.

You can find a full list of our approved relocation agents right here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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