An Expat Guide to Belgian Work Permits


Updated on Oct 06 • 7 minute read

Want to start working in Belgium but don’t know where to begin? With the changing regulations and inconsistent information online, figuring out which Belgian work permit to apply for might get confusing. To help you navigate this complicated process, this guide we’ll cover:

  • Who needs a Belgian work visa and work permit
  • About the work permit
  • Types of Belgian work permits and their requirements
  • How to apply for your work permit and visa
  • Belgian work permit processing time
  • Tips on how to find a job in Belgium

Do I need a visa or work permit to work in Belgium?

Both a visa and a work permit are strict requirements for any non-EU national who wishes to legally work in Belgium. Whereas a Belgian work visa — also known as a long-stay or Type D visa — will let you enter Belgium, a Belgian work permit will allow you to live in Belgium and regulate which professional activities you can perform and under which conditions.

To work in Belgium as a non-European, you’ll first need to secure a job, get your prospective Belgian employer to apply for a work permit on your behalf, and then apply for a work visa to enter the country. If you want to work as a freelancer or start your own business in Belgium, you’ll need to apply for a professional card yourself.

Some of the exceptions to getting a work visa and permit include non-European scientific researchers, holders of permanent residence permits and, in most cases, family members of Belgian residency holders and EU citizens.

If you’re a citizen from a country with a visa-free Schengen agreement, you still must apply for a Belgium type D visa and work permit if you plan on living and working in Belgium.

As a European, EEA or Swiss citizen, you’ve got the freedom to live and work from Belgium without needing any visas or work permits. You’ll only need to register with your local city office and get a foreigner’s ID card to stay and work in Belgium.

Belgian work permit

Getting a Belgian work permit is dependent on finding employment in Belgium. Your prospective Belgian employer needs to request a work permit on your behalf from the local employment office where the company is established. So if you manage to find a job in Belgium, getting a work permit is easy.

Depending on how long you’ve to work in Belgium, you’ll either get a work permit or a single permit.

A work permit allows you to work for 1 specific employer for a maximum of 90 days and it needs to be requested by your employer. Although this permit can’t be renewed, you can apply for a Belgium single permit before it expires.

A single permit is more common and is issued when employment lasts longer than 90 days. A single permit counts as both a work and residence permit. It is valid as long as your employment contract and can be renewed. You’ll receive it upon your arrival and registration with the city hall in your place of residence in Belgium.

You can contact Brussels, Flanders or the Wallonia Regional Employment Office directly if you’ve questions about your work permit.

Belgium work permit types

Below are the most common categories of work and single permits issued in Belgium to non-European workers:

1. Highly-qualified worker or director

Thanks to the lower minimum requirements, the most common way to get your Belgian work or single permit (A-card) is as a highly-skilled worker.

The permit is valid for the duration of your employment contract with a maximum of 3 years and is renewable. After living and working legally with a single permit for highly-qualifies workers for 5 years, you can apply for a single permit for an unlimited time (B-card) yourself.

Requirements for highly-skilled worker single permit:

  • employment contract stating at least the minimum gross annual salary defined by the regional authorities:
    • Brussels and Wallonia regions: Annual gross salary of €47,174
    • Flanders: Annual gross salary of €36,787 (under 30 years old) and €45,984 (over 30 years old)
  • diploma of higher or university education of at least 3 years from a recognised university

See the list of required documents in the Brussels region.

2. The European Blue Card

The European Blue Card is another permit for highly-qualified workers who wish to work in employment in an EU a country. The EU Blue Card is valid for at least 1 year with a maximum of 4 years and can be renewed. Your employer submits the application for you.

If your Blue Card is still valid after working in Belgium for 2 years, you can change jobs or work for another company in Belgium without prior authorization from the authorities.

If you wish to work in a different EU country, you must apply for a new Blue Card. But you can only do so after working with your EU Blue Card for 18 months in Belgium.

To be eligible for The European Blue Card you must meet these requirements:

  • minimum gross annual salary of €60,998 (or €55,181 in the Flemish region)
  • employment contract of minimum 1 year
  • higher education qualification of at least 3 years or proof of meeting the legal requirements of a regulated profession
  • you’re not a seconded worker, a long-term resident, a researcher, a person under temporary protection, an asylum seeker or a seasonal worker

See the list of required documents in the Brussels region.

3. Employed worker

You can also get a Belgium single permit as an employed worker that doesn’t fall under the specified categories. On the Belgian government websites, this category is referred to as “Other.” In that case, your employer must prove unsuccessful attempts to hire a Belgian or EU national for this role.

Here’re the requirements you must meet to be eligible for a work permit as an employed worker:

  • labour market test; the employer must prove that the position couldn’t be filled by a Belgian or EU national
  • your monthly salary will be above the Belgium minimum wage of €1,954.99
  • must be applied from your home country

See the list of required documents in the Brussels region.

*Note that if you decide to change your employer, you’ve to return to your home country and re-apply for the Belgian work permit and visa with the new employer.

4. Search year

Have you just graduated from a Belgian university? Then you can work in Belgium without a visa for 1 year with a ‘search year’ residence permit. During this time you should find a job that will sponsor your Belgium single permit.

To obtain the residence permit for a search year, you must submit your application at the city hall of your place of residence in Belgium at least 15 days before the expiration date of your student residence permit.

You must meet the following requirements:

  • Belgian residence permit for study purposes
  • bachelor, master, postgraduate or doctoral degree from a Belgian university
  • proof of sufficient financial means to sustain yourself for 1 year

5. Professional Cards

If you wish to work as a self-employed professional in Belgium, you must apply for a professional card (carte professionale/beroepskaart). This card is valid for 5 years and can be renewed.

With this card, you’re able to work only in your field of practice as you need to prove that you’re established in this field and possess the necessary qualifications. Moreover, your activity must deliver value for the region. That can be in the form of job creation, economic benefits, useful investments, innovative character, social or cultural value, etc.

You can apply for the professional card together with your D visa in a Belgian embassy in your place of residence or, if you live in Belgium, at a recognised enterprise counter.

You’ll need to submit the following documents:

  • valid passport
  • 2 identity photos
  • filled application form
  • filled D visa application form
  • proof of your qualifications in your profession
  • your business plan, a maximum of 20 pages
  • proof of payment of the administrative fee
  • certificate of no criminal record
  • medical clearance certificate
  • if applying from Belgium, a registration certificate

*Note that you’ll have to pay a fee of €90 per year of the validity of the professional card.

6. Other categories of workers

Other specified categories of workers include but are not limited to artists, specialised technicians, professional athletes, postdoctoral researchers and journalists. Check the website of the Belgian authorities of your region for more information:

Belgium long-stay visa (type D)

Once you receive the decision that you’re granted a Belgium work or single permit, you need to go to the Belgian embassy in your place of residence and apply for a D-type visa.

Generally, you'll need these documents for your visa and work permit applications:

Single permit:

  • medical clearance certificate
  • certificate of good conduct/proof of no criminal record, legalised and translated to Dutch, French, or English
  • proof of private health insurance or commitment to join a recognised mutual insurance fund upon your arrival in Belgium
  • if required, proof of funds available for the duration of stay (employments contract or bank statements)
  • a signed employment contract
  • employer’s identity document

Long-stay Visa:

  • signed, completed, and printed D visa application form in English, German, Dutch or French
  • 2 passport photos no more than 3 months old
  • passport valid for more than 3 months with copies
  • decision to grant a single permit or professional card (annex 46)
  • proof of payment of visa fees

How to start working in Belgium as a non-EEA / EU national

You already know what kinds of work permits are out there and how to apply for your long-stay visa. Let’s now see what the whole process looks like until you can work in Belgium legally:

  1. Get an employment contract from a Belgian company.
  2. Gather the documents required for your work permit application, translate and legalise if needed.
  3. Your employer applies for a single permit for you.
  4. You’re notified about the decision to grant you a single permit.
  5. Apply for a D-visa at your local Belgian embassy or consulate with the visa application form, annex 46 and your international passport.
  6. Attend an interview in a Belgian embassy with the originals of your documents.
  7. Once you get the visa, you can enter Belgium legally.
  8. Within 8 days, register your arrival and long-term stay at the Foreigners’ Register of the city office and get your national registration number (rijksregisternummer).
  9. Collect your ID Card and you’re all set to start working in Belgium!

*Note that the process might slightly differ per each type of permit.

How long does it take to get a single permit in Belgium?

It can take up to 4 months from the moment of application until your Belgian single permit is issued. But usually, you’ll be waiting for about 8-10 weeks.

Looking for a job in Belgium

It might prove difficult to find a job in Belgium if you don’t speak Flemish or French fluently. At the same time, as Europe’s capital city, Belgium hosts several international companies as well as major European governmental bodies that hire people with several language skills. If you need help, luckily several companies can help you with your job search:

We hope that we’ve answered all your questions about getting your Belgium work permit. Now go score that job offer and you're ready to start your relocation to Belgium!

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