Visas and Work Permits 10 min

Work permits and visas in Belgium: an employer’s guide

Written by Sally Flaxman
April 10, 2024
Sally Flaxman


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Before your company can start hiring workers in Belgium, you must have the documentation to support them, including the right work permits and visas.

Local immigration laws can be complex, especially if you have limited knowledge of Belgian labor laws. If your company is non-compliant with Belgium's immigration laws, you can face severe financial penalties, legal issues, and a loss of reputation. Your team members could even face deportation from the country, and your business would be responsible for any penalties incurred.

Whether you’re relocating an existing employee to Belgium or hiring a non-citizen of the country, your first step is to understand the work permits and visa requirements so that you can hire them legally.

This guide will give you an overview of immigration procedures so that you can hire in Belgium legally. We’ll also explain why using a trusted employer of record (EOR) can make it easy and efficient for you to hire abroad.

The importance of immigration compliance in Belgium

Even if an employee intends to stay in Belgium for a short period, they must obtain the necessary documents before beginning their job. If an employer is discovered to have deliberately violated local laws regarding labor, taxes, and immigration, they could face criminal charges. This could result in penalties not only from the government but also in the employer's home country, potentially impacting their business.

Digital nomads who plan to travel to and work in Belgium cannot do so with simply a tourist visa. Workers will need to obtain a specific Belgium work visa as well as a Belgium work permit to legally work in the country. With the rise of remote working, governments are becoming more stringent and enforcing laws that make it illegal to work on a tourist visa in any capacity.

Who is eligible to work in Belgium?

As part of the EU/EFTA Schengen agreement, individuals from European countries are allowed to travel and work within Belgium without going through the visa and permit process. 

However, workers from countries outside the Schengen Area are subject to Belgium’s work visa requirements and must obtain the necessary work permits before being allowed to work legally in Belgium.

These checks are usually a lengthy and time-consuming process, which involves collaboration with the Beligum authorities. Your company must ‌become familiar with local Belgium immigration laws to be able to identify the correct documentation required to obtain a visa and permit. 

To make your life easier and speed up the process, consider working with an EOR like Remote. With Remote, the employee can easily submit relevant documentation using our simple, intuitive, platform.

Remote's Mobility team can perform an eligibility check on your behalf. Even if the employee doesn’t have a valid permit, Remote will facilitate the process quickly to ensure immediate legal compliance. Learn more about our employee relocation services via our informative guide below.

Get your Remote Relocation Guide

Learn how to simplify your planned relocation with this walkthrough guide. We outline the key steps for you and your employer to enable a compliant, efficient, and hassle-free move.

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Do non-citizens need a work visa or work permit in Belgium?

Non-Belgian workers who want to be employed in Belgium must obtain a work permit unless they are citizens of a European Member State or Switzerland.

Certain types of jobs allow individuals to work in Belgium for under 90 days without needing a work permit. These jobs include artists, journalists, researchers, athletes, sales representatives, diplomats, and government officials. However, these professionals still need to apply for a type C visa and file a Limosa declaration.

Any non-citizens of Belgium who are not eligible for the above requirements — and wish to stay in Belgium longer than 90 days — will need a type D visa along with a fixed-term single work permit.

How is the Schengen Visa applicable?

Citizens who are part of the Schengen Area can travel freely within the Schengen Area without a permit or visa. These countries include:

  • Czech Republic

  • Austria

  • Denmark

  • Belgium

  • Finland

  • Estonia

  • Germany

  • France

  • Iceland

  • Hungary

  • Latvia

  • Italy

  • Lithuania

  • Liechtenstein

  • Malta

  • Luxembourg

  • Norway

  • Netherlands

  • Portugal

  • Poland

  • Slovenia

  • Slovakia

  • Sweden

  • Spain

  • Switzerland

There are several countries that Belgium has created a separate pact with that allows citizens of these countries to also freely travel and work within Belgium without a visa or permit. These include:

  • Bulgaria

  • Cyprus

  • Croatia

  • Ireland

  • Romania

Individuals from these countries are only allowed to stay in Belgium for up to three months, beyond which they will need to register and apply for a Belgian residence card.

UK citizens have up to 90 days to travel freely in Belgium without a visa. However, unless they are there for a conference, training, or meeting, they will have to acquire a Belgium work permit. Citizens of the UK who stay longer than 90 days need a type D visa along with a fixed-term single work permit. Employers must apply for a work permit for the employee.

How is the European Union Blue Card applicable?

The European Union Blue Card was created for non-EU highly skilled professionals who are seeking work in European countries. With the card, individuals can work, live, and re-enter any participating EU country, except for Ireland and Denmark. 

The card is valid anywhere between one and three years and is dependent on the length of the employment contract.

The card provides socioeconomic rights to workers as well as a path to permanent residency in Belgium. Once an EU Blue Card is awarded, the employee may start the application process for a Belgium work visa.

What are the eligibility requirements for a work visa in Belgium?

When your business is looking to employ non-EU citizens in Belgium, you must first meet all the legal requirements set by the Belgium government. 

Before you begin the application process for a Belgium work visa, you must first apply for a fixed-term single permit. This is a prerequisite to obtaining a work visa. Before the employee is granted a single permit, Belgium authorities will conduct a labor market test to ensure that no Belgian or EU workers can fill the position first.

Below are the eligibility requirements for obtaining a fixed-term single permit:

  • Completed application form signed by both parties

  • Valid passport with 12 months before the expiration date, including two blank pages

  • Accredited educational institution qualifications

  • CV with work experience

  • Medical report no older than six months

  • Police report no older than six months

  • Proof of accommodation

  • Proof of financial stability

  • Health insurance covering $40,000

Since the employer will be applying for the permit for the employee, they will also need to meet several requirements before applying. These include:

  • Proof of payment for the single permit

  • Employment contract signed by both parties

  • Additional documentation regarding employment

  • Company registration, employer ID, and VAT number

  • National Registration Number of the employee

In addition to understanding local Belgium immigration laws, it can be a hassle to manage all the paperwork and documentation.

Remote can simplify the application process by completing the steps on your behalf and liaising with the parties involved. Learn more from our webinar covering topics such as immigration laws, international taxation, and employment regulations. 

What are the long-stay visa types in Belgium?

The main visa that almost all workers will apply for that stay and work in Belgium for longer than 90 days will be the long-stay visa type D. 

The type D visa allows workers entry into Belgium. However, they would also need a work permit to stay long-term in the country.

If your business does not have the time or resources to deal with the various steps involved in getting a work visa for the employee, it's best to work with an EOR like Remote. Our team of experts are knowledgable about Belgium local laws and can help you during every step of the process.

How do you get a work visa for Belgium?

Before obtaining a work visa in Belgium, the employee will first need proof of employment in the form of an employment contract.

Once an employment contract is drafted and signed by both parties, you can begin the application process, which involves the following steps:

  • Employee applies for a work visa with the Belgian Embassy in their home country

  • Employee receives permit and visa and travels to Belgium

  • Employee registers with Belgium authorities and records their residential address

  • Employee applies for an ID card

  • Employee provides fingerprints and collects their ID card

The application process could last anywhere from eight to ten weeks, depending on how familiar you are with the process and how long it takes to get a work permit. 

The visa is valid for up to a year with the possibility of an extension. If your worker lives in Belgium for at least five years, they will become eligible to apply for permanent residence or the work permit type A. The type A permit allows workers to live and work in Belgium indefinitely as long as they are employed.

What is the process for employee work visa sponsorship in Belgium?

As the employer, you will be responsible for making sure the employee is fully compliant with immigration laws and is able to work and live in Belgium legally.

Even in cases where workers can apply for visas on their own, it's crucial your business monitors every aspect of the application process. The immigration process can be a liability for your company if one step or document is missed, rendering your worker non-compliant with local laws. The ensuing financial and legal repercussions fall solely on your business. 

What are the visa requirements for digital nomads in Belgium?

Belgium does not offer a digital nomad visa and has not announced any plans to create one for remote workers. 

Why use an employer of record to hire in Belgium

To hire or relocate an employee to Belgium, remember you’ll have to open your own entity in the country. Establishing a local entity‌ in the country of hiring can be an expensive and long-winded process. You’ll have to have a strong understanding of local employment legislation and figure out how to manage and pay employees compliantly. 

Your best bet is to work with Remote who can hire and pay employees legally on your behalf. Our EOR services can manage your international hiring process, employee onboarding, benefits, taxes, payroll, immigration, and compliance with local employment laws. 

Learn more about how you can use an EOR in Belgium to hire employees quickly and compliantly in our article below.

link to How to use an Employer of Record in Belgium
13 min

How to use an Employer of Record in Belgium

Learn how to use an EOR in Belgium and find out how an employer of record platform like Remote can make it easy to hire globally with full compliance.

Relocating an employee is stressful for both the employee and employer. Remote understands the hassles involved in international hiring and relocation.

The only way to make the process easier is by becoming educated on the relocation procedure as well as what is required. Remote is here to help by offering services directly focused on visas, compliance, immigration, and more. Our global HR platform has everything you need to make international relocation a breeze. Remote can help you: 

Download Remote’s Relocation Guide for tips and insights on how you can make the relocation process simple. If you're ready to start moving team members to Belgium, contact our Mobility experts to get the process started today!

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