How to Get Belgian Residence Permit: An Expat Guide


Updated on Jun 02 • 5 minute read

If you want to move to Belgium for work, study, family, or other reasons as a European or non-European citizen, you’ll need a valid residence permit to legally live in the country.

A Belgian residence permit is a document that is issued to foreigners who wish to legally live in Belgium for more than 3 months. There’re 7 types of Belgian residence permits and one will be issued to you depending on your nationality, length of stay, and purpose of stay.

To help you understand the changing regulations and answer your questions about the residence permit, this guide will cover:

  • who needs a Belgian residence permit?
  • Belgian residence permit types
  • documents needed to apply
  • how to apply for a residence card
  • costs associated with the application

Do I need a Belgian residence permit?

If you plan to stay in Belgium for a period longer than 90 days, you must apply for a residence permit, regardless of your nationality or purpose of stay.

A residence permit is essential as only with a valid residence permit, you can:

  • open a Belgian bank account
  • apply for social assistance
  • register your vehicle
  • attend your doctor’s appointments and collect your prescriptions at pharmacies
  • complete your tax returns.

Belgium residence permit for citizens of EU member states, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland or Liechtenstein

If you plan to stay for less than 90 days in Belgium, you need to register with the municipal authority in your place of residence within 10 days and get a short-term stay permit in the form of an ‘Annex 3ter’.

If you wish to stay for more than 90 days in Belgium, you’ve 3 months from your arrival to register and receive a foreigner’s ID card.

Belgium residence permit for non-EU citizens

Once you arrive in Belgium, you’ve 8 working days to go to the town hall (maison communale/gemeentehuis) or city office (stadhuis) and register your Belgian address. After your address is verified, you’ll be granted your Belgian residence card (Belgian eID).

So what's a Belgian eID?

Residence permits in Belgium are commonly referred to as Belgian eIDs because they’ve got an electronic chip in them. Besides being your identity document, an eID allows you to perform many different tasks such as:

  • verifying your identity online (when logging in to public services or opening a bank account).
  • signing electronic documents.

The 3 types of eID cards are:

  • national ID card: an ID card for Belgian nationals aged 12 or older.
  • electronic foreigners card: it's basically your residence card given for a temporary period.
  • kids-ID: for Belgian nationals under 12 years old.

However, to use your eID, you must get a suitable card reader and software. You can get one at the Population Service of the City of Brussels for €7 or in any online electronics shop.

You can also use your eID with a card reader to register with itsme— an app that'll allow you to authenticate yourself, confirm transactions and sign documents in seconds and forget about the card reader altogether!

Types of Belgian residence permits

The type of Belgian residence card you receive will depend on your nationality, length of stay, and type of work permit (if applicable).

When you just arrive in Belgium, you always get a temporary residence permit. The length of its validity will depend on your visa type.

After you’ve lived in Belgium for 5 consecutive years with a temporary residence permit, you can apply for a permanent residence card. Belgium has several types of permanent residence permits granting various levels of rights. Ultimately, type L and K residence permits allow you to register in the population register instead of the foreigners’ register and enjoy the same rights as Belgian nationals.

After living in Belgium for 5 more years with a permanent residence permit (10 in total), you can apply for Belgian citizenship by naturalisation.

While with the permanent residence permit you can lose your status if you leave Belgium for 1 year, you can move around the EU freely with a Belgian passport.

Common Belgian residence permit types:

A-card (also single permit): a temporary residence permit issued to third-country nationals.

B-card (also unlimited single permit): a permanent residence permit issued to third-country nationals who’ve stayed legally in Belgium for 5 years. With this card, you’re not allowed to stay outside Belgium for more than 1-year.

K-card (formerly C card): a permanent residence permit issued after type B permit. It allows you unlimited and unconditional stay and gives access to more social welfare assistance. You’ll be registered in the population register of Belgium.

L-card (formerly D card): a permanent residence permit that grants you the same rights as the Type K card and allows you to stay in other EU member states for up to 6 years. You can obtain it if you’ve lived and worked legally in Belgium for 5 uninterrupted years and you earn a monthly income of at least €883.

E-card: a temporary residence permit issued to EU, EEA, and Swiss nationals.

F-card: a temporary residence permit issued to the family members of EU citizens.

H-card: a temporary residence permit issued to the highly-skilled workers with a European Blue Card.

How to apply for a temporary Belgian residence permit:

Required documents for EEA citizens

  • 2 passport photos
  • your rental contract
  • national ID card or passport
  • registration certificate from the VUB
  • European Health Insurance Card (EHIC)
  • proof of financial means (e.g. employment documents, bank statements, scholarship)

Required documents for non-EEA citizens

  • 2 passport photos
  • valid passport with visa D
  • your rental contract

As an employee, you also need to submit:

  • decision to issue a single permit
  • an employer’s declaration or employment contract

As a self-employed professional, you also need to submit:

  • decision to issue a professional card
  • proof of registration in the Companies Register (Kruispuntbank van Ondernemingen)
  • proof of enrollment with a social insurance fund

As a student, you also need to submit:

  • registration certificate from your university
  • proof of health insurance
  • a declaration of sufficient financial means

Applying for your Belgian residence card step-by-step

  1. Make an appointment at the Foreigners' Office at your local city office or commune to register. Ask which documents you need to bring - the requirements vary per commune.
  2. Attend your appointment with the required documents. Some municipalities may allow you to send the documents via email.
  3. Collect your 11-digit provisional national register number and proof that you’ve started your registration.
  4. The city office sends a police officer to confirm your address.
  5. You’re invited for a second visit to the city office to apply for your residence permit.
  6. Receive activation codes for your electronic residence permit at your address.
  7. Congrats, you can pick up your residence card!

How to register in Brussels

The Brussels-Capital Region includes 19 communes and procedures for registration and documents you'll need can differ. Most of them will have information on their websites, but usually in Dutch or French.

To register in Brussels, you should contact the Foreigner's department at your local town hall by phone or email, request an appointment and ask about the required steps and documents.

EEA citizens moving to the City of Brussels (the city centre) can make an appointment online via the municipal website.

If you're from a non-EEA country and moving to the City of Brussels, you can send an email to to make an appointment at the Foreigner's Office to register your address.

Find the information in English for each of the Brussels communes at Just click on your commune on the map!

What’s the processing time for a Belgium residence permit?

It can take about up to 2 months to receive your Belgian residence permit.

How much does a Belgian visa and residence permit cost?

If you’re an EU citizen or family member, you’re exempt from the fees.

Non-EU citizens can expect to pay:

Application fee paid to consular authorities€180 ($192)
Residence certificate€20 ($21)
D-Visa work purposes€366 ($391)
D-Visa for family members of foreigners authorised to reside in Belgium€209 ($223)

*Costs may vary depending on the country of application.

Can I travel during my Belgium residence permit application?

That depends on whether you’ve got a single or multi-entry visa. If your visa is multi-entry, you can leave and re-enter Belgium while it’s valid.

However, Belgian authorities might require you to stay in the country during your residence permit application. If you’d like to leave Belgium during this period, you should ask about your travel rights when submitting the application.

Congratulations! Once you've got your Belgium residence permit, you're almost at the end of your relocation checklist! The only thing left is to open a local bank account and you're all set for your new life abroad!

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