Living and Working in Belgium & UK

UK- Belgium Business Travel from 2021

UK business travelers can stay in the Schengen area for a maximum of 90 days in a 180-day period and do not require a Schengen Visa C.

What Regional Immigration Policies are available for the business moves of non-EEA nationals? 

  • UK employees (including frontier and contractual service providers) can apply for a Work or Single Permit. This process can take anywhere from 2 weeks – 3 months. Eligibility conditions will include qualifications and salary thresholds. 
  • Self-employed UK nationals in Belgium can apply for a Professional Card. This process can take anywhere from 1-6 months. Eligibility conditions will include ‘economic added value’.  
  • Regions vary in terms of salary threshold and permit duration, therefore additional authorisation may be required depending on the region where the work is conducted. 

work authorisations granted for UK employees in Belgium:

Depending on the following circumstances:  

  • Does the employee have a diploma or not? 
  • What is the minimum salary threshold? (this will vary between region)  
  • What is the duration of employment? 
    • Up to 90 days: Apply for the Short-term Work Permit 
    • 90 days or more: Apply for the Single Permit (grants both work and residence authorisation) 

     

SHORT-TERM WORK PERMIT

 

  • This work authorisation permit allows foreign workers to work in Belgium for up to 90 days.  
  • Foreigners can work for one employer only in Belgium. 
  • There is a maximum stay of 90 days in 180-day period in the Schengen area.  
  • All categories can apply for this permit, including trainees, executives, highly-skilled employees.  
  • Local hires and posted workers can also apply for this permit. In the case of assignment, posted worker notification is to be completed (Limosa), and a certificate of coverage for Belgian social security or an exemption for Belgian social security. 

Application

Simplified process compared to the single permit (duration of application is +-1 month) 

An application is submitted by the employer or company to the relevant Regional Employment Ministry (REM) 

Documents required for Highly Skilled Workers:

  • Signed application form,
  • Copy of passport, 
  • Employment contract,
  • Copy of higher education degree, 
  • Medical Certificate from a recognised doctor.  

Additional documents required for posted workers include; letter of the Assignment (for longer than 3 months), certificate of Coverage or Belgian social security exemption, Limosa (from the start of employment) 

Once the REM approves the application, the employee can then travel to Belgium and start working (if staying in private accommodation, not a hotel, a declaration of arrival at local town hall required) 

SINGLE PERMIT

   

  • This is a combined work and residence authorisation permit for foreign workers in Belgium for more than 90 days (up to 3 years max.)  
  • Foreigners can work for one employer only in Belgium. 
  • The maximum stay of 90 days in a 180-day period still applies in the rest of the Schengen area. 
  • This permit applies to all categories, including trainees, executives, highly skilled employees etc. 
  • Local hires and posted workers can also apply for this permit. In the case of assignment, posted worker notification is o complete (Limosa), and a certificate of coverage for Belgian social security or an exemption for Belgian social security. 
  • Direct family members (including, spouse/partner and children under the age of 18) can also move to Belgium with the employee and are entitled to access the Belgian labor market. 

Application: 

An application will be completed by an employer or company to the relevant Regional Employment Ministry (REM). The application process usually takes between 1-3 months from filing (4.5 months is the legal limit) 

What documents will I need? 

Highly skilled workers:

  • Signed application form
  • Copy of passport
  • Employment contract
  • Copy of higher education degree, 
  • Medical Certificate from a recognised doctor
  • Police Clearance Certificate
  • Employer’s commitment that the worker will be covered by mutual insurance
  • Proof that the fee to the Immigration Office (363€) was paid
  • For posted workersadditional documentinclude letter of the Assignment (for longer than 3 months), certificate of Coverage or Belgian social security exemptionLimosa (from the start of employment) 

Once REM has approved the application, it will be forwarded to the Immigration Office (IO)  

  • The IO will grant approval, so that the applicant can then apply for Visa D in their home country. 
  • The applicant can then travel to Belgium with the Visa D and register at their local town hall to get their final Residence Permit.   
PROFESSIONAL CARD FOR SELF-EMPLOYED PERSONS

This card gives a self-employed person authorisation to engage in economic activities in Belgium and is valid for 2-5 years.  

Once granted a professional card, the applicant then automatically qualifies for a long stay visa and a residence permit. 

To get a professional card: ‘Economic Added Valie’ is evaluated by authorisations. 

  • Evidence of your prior professional experience and your business or financial plan will be considered. 

Application:

  • Complete an application at the relevant Belgian diplomatic post abroad. 
  • Apply for a professional card  
  • Apply for a visa 
  • When in country apply for a residence permit at your local town hall.   
  • Direct family members (including, spouse/partner and children under the age of 18) can also move to Belgium with the employee and are entitled to access the Belgian labor market (but not as self-employed persons).  

MEMBER INSIGHTS: SD Worx

 

Brexit FAQ’s: UK – Belgium Employer – Employee Issues

The most up-to-date advice and FAQ’s for UK and Belgium Employer-Employee issues post-January 2021. Advice subject to these issues not being revised as part of the ongoing negotiations.

 

For more information, contact:

Hugues Thibaut Head of Public Affairs SD Worx (hugues.thibaut@sdworx.com)

FAQ: BELGIAN CITIZENS TO THE UNITED KINGDOM

Does a Belgian travelling to the United Kingdom need a visa to work there?

  • In certain cases, they do not need a visa to travel to the United Kingdom for professional reasons. For example, if they attend meetings or negotiate contracts. In other cases, visas are required regardless of the duration of work in the United Kingdom.

An employee lives and only works in the United Kingdom for a British employer: What do I need to do?

  • The employee must apply for a specific visa based on points. Only employees who can demonstrate sufficient points may still enter the United Kingdom. The British Government allocates points based on the skills, qualification and income of Belgians. The employee must score at least 70 points to be able to work in the United Kingdom. This will be the case, for example, if they:
  • Have already received a job offer from a British employer (20 points).
  • Are highly qualified (20 points).
  • Have a minimum annual salary of currently £25,600 (20 points).
  • Can speak English (10 points).

In addition, the British employer must act as a sponsor.

An employee only works and lives in the United Kingdom: What do I need to do?

  • They must have a visa. In order to obtain a visa, they must have a recognised British company as a sponsor. If there is no recognised British company, it will be difficult to employ a Belgian in the United Kingdom. A Belgian company should have a British branch or establishment on British territory.

I am temporarily sending my employee to our United Kingdom sister company to carry out an assignment: What needs to be done?

  • The employee will apply for an Intra-company transfer visa and the company will act as a sponsor. Unless the employee earns £73,900 or more per year and working for you for at least 12 months.

I am seconding my employee temporarily (100% employment) to the United Kingdom: Will they continue to be covered by Belgian social security?

  • The situation has not yet been resolved and is part of the negotiations. If there is no agreement, you can second the employee to the UK under Belgian social security for six months. The six-month period may be extended once for a further six months. If they stay for longer, the situation must be assessed further.

My employee works in Belgium 3 days a week and in the United Kingdom for 2 days a week: Where do they have to pay their social security contributions?

  • The situation has not yet been resolved and is part of the negotiations. If there is no agreement, Belgian citizens run the risk of being socially insured in Belgium and the United Kingdom.

I am sending an employee to our British branch whose secondment will last a number of years and they do not want to lose their Belgian social security: What are their options?

  • If covered under British social security is not sufficient for the employee, the employee can still join the Overseas Social Security scheme.
FAQ: BRITISH CITIZENS TO BELGIUM

Does a British citizen living and working in Flanders/Brussels/Wallonia/German-speaking Community for more than 90 days need a single permit?

  • Yes. The place of employment determines in which region the employment must apply for the single permit.

Does a British citizen travelling to Belgium have to have a visa to work here for less than 90 days?

  • No, British citizens are exempt from the visa requirement. The employee must be able to prove to customs why they are travelling to Belgium with an invitation or work permit. Customs may ask for any supporting documents such as a hotel reservation.

Does a British citizen who comes to work in Flanders/Brussels/Wallonia/German-speaking Community for less than 90 days within a period of 180 days need a work permit or a single permit?

  • Yes. The place of employment determines in which region the employer must apply for the work permit.

Does a British citizen who stays in Belgium to work for less than 90 days need a Belgian residence document?

 

  • Hotel: If the British employee is staying in a hotel, they do not have to register with the municipality. Their British passport is sufficient.
  • Apartment/house: If a British citizen rents a house in Belgium, they must register with the municipality. They will then receive an Annex 3 or an Annex 15 as a frontier worker.

A British employer is temporarily seconding a British employee to Belgium (100% employment): Will they continue to be covered by British social security?

  • This situation has not yet been resolved and is part of the negotiations. If there is no agreement, British citizens can come to Belgium for 52 weeks under British social security. If they stay for longer, this situation must be assessed further.

A British employee works in Belgium 3 days a week and in the United Kingdom for 2 days a week: Where do they have to pay their social security contributions?

  • This situation has not yet been resolved and is part of the negotiations. We will update as we have more news. If there is no agreement, British citizens may be socially insured in Belgium and the UK.

 

A British employee lives in Belgium and also works in the Netherlands and Belgium: Does the European Social Security Regulation still apply to them?

  • Yes, this regulation also applies to nationals of non-member countries, including British citizens. You can also apply these European rules to the employment situation of the British employee.

The information provided on these pages does not constitute legal advice and is subject to change in line with government rules and laws. While Britcham will endeavour to keep the information on this page as current as possible, we advise you to seek expert independent legal advice an any matters relevant to your situation.