What do you need to know about work permits in Belgium

Belgium is a great place for expats to live and work, particularly if you're looking for a way to immerse yourself in European culture.

The country offers high standards of living, friendly people and a good standard of healthcare. It's also easy to get around the country, with good public transport links between major cities.

If you're thinking about moving to Belgium, you may be wondering what is the type of work permit in Belgium, then continue reading!

Work Permits for Foreign Workers in Belgium

In Belgium, foreign workers must have a work permit to work legally. The type of work permit granted depends on the type of employment contract.

There are various types of work permits for foreign workers in Belgium:

A highly skilled worker with an EU Blue Card can apply for a Blue Card residence permit

A highly skilled worker with a standard EU residence permit can apply for a Belgian long-term resident's card after three years of residence in the country

An employer can employ a foreign employee under an intra-company transfer (ICT) scheme or a self-employed person under an intra-company transfer scheme without having to apply for a work permit

Seasonal workers will be issued with a temporary residence permit if they come from an EU member state or Switzerland and are employed by an employer that has been established in Belgium for at least 12 months and employs at least 10 employees on Belgian territory.

Types of Work Permits

Permit type A Belgium

This is the most common permit. It is a temporary residence permit that can be issued for a maximum period of one year. However, it can be extended for as long as you want. Permit type A Belgium is for people who want to stay in Belgium for more than three months and less than five years.

If your stay in Belgium exceeds five years, you will need another permit (temporary residence card) to stay in the country. Permit Type B is issued for this purpose. The processing time for this type of permit depends on your country of origin but usually takes about 15 days from the date of application submission.

Permit type B Belgium

A permit type B is a work permit for Belgium. It is issued to non-EU/EEA nationals who want to work in Belgium, based on an employment contract with an employer established in Belgium. Moreover, the permit type B is a work permit for highly skilled workers. The permit is issued if the employer can prove that there is no Belgian available who can perform the job. The requirement to apply for this permit is:

  • The applicant must be legally employed in Belgium by a company with headquarters located in Belgium, or by an international subsidiary of such a company.

  • The applicant must have an employment contract with a duration of at least 12 months (or 6 months for seasonal work).

  • The applicant must have obtained qualifications equal to those required in Belgium for the position concerned within the previous three years.

  • The applicant must not be unemployed and must have been working abroad for at least three months prior to submitting his/her application for a permit type B.

  • The employer must provide evidence that it has sufficient means of financing its activities and cannot rely on public funds.

Permit type C Belgium

The permit type C is a work permit that can be applied for by an employer in order to employ a non-EU citizen. It is issued for the purposes of employment, training and mobility. A permit type C is a work permit issued by the Belgian authorities to a foreign employee who is going to work at a company based in Belgium. It is issued for one year and it can be renewed if the employment contract is renewed.

When an employer wants to hire someone with permit C, they must meet certain criteria below:

  • The company must have been created less than 3 years ago (or less than 5 years ago if it employs fewer than 10 people).

  • The company must employ at least 5 employees if it has more than 50 employees or 10 employees if it has fewer than 50 people working for it.

  • The company must prove that it has sufficient financial means to pay the employee's salary and that it can continue running its business without any problems during the first 12 months after the worker has arrived in Belgium.

European Blue Card

The European Blue Card is a work and residence permit for highly-skilled workers from non-EU countries. It allows you to live and work in Belgium, as well as in other member states of the EU and EEA (Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein).

The Blue Card is designed for non-EU countries with a university degree or equivalent who are able to show that their employment will create added value for their host country's economy. Applicants must have completed at least three years of higher education in their home country and at least two years of professional experience after having received their first degree (or equivalent).

Who can apply for the European Blue Card?

  • To be eligible for the European Blue Card, you need to:

  • Have a university degree – normally a bachelor’s degree or equivalent qualification – from an EU/EEA country or Switzerland.

  • Have at least two years of professional experience as an employee (or three years if you have graduated from a master’s degree programme) in the last five years before applying for the card. This period does not include time spent on unpaid internships.

Professional Card

The Belgian professional card is a universal document that identifies you as a qualified professional. It is issued by the chamber of commerce and industry of your city or region.

The Belgian professional card is valid for 5 years, if you meet the following requirements:

  • Your company has been in existence for at least 1 year;

  • You have a permanent employment contract with your employer;

  • You are registered with the Social Security Office; and

  • You have a permanent address in Belgium.

To obtain a professional card, you need to be at least 16 years old and have a legal status in Belgium (for example as an EU citizen or as a permanent resident). You can obtain a professional card if you have already received your Belgian identity card or passport.

The professional card is valid for 5 years and can be renewed after that time period. The renewal process takes place online via the application portal of the Citizen Service portal. The application portal also allows you to request a change of address, change the data on your card, etc.