LIVING AND WORKING IN BELGIUM – All YOU NEED TO KNOW
Belgium the headquarters of European Union is one of the most attractive hubs for tourists, business executives and general travelers. The country’s identity is divided between the Dutch and French language and culture. Living and working in Belgium is highly attractive to many migrant workers searching for new life in a less hostile environment.
Education is taken seriously in Belgium and it is compulsory for persons between age 6 and 18. A decentralized system of education is operated causing the enrollment process to be competitive and diverse. Belgian healthcare system covers up to 75% of medical expenses incurred.
So, you have successfully scaled through the immigration gauntlet and been given your Belgian visa. It’s good to know that if you’re employed as a foreigner in Belgium you are issued with a labour card within ten days of your application. Belgium is adjudged to have one of the fastest and most flexible card issuance procedure in Europe.
Also it’s important to note that, before you kick-start your life in Belgium, you still have a couple of official processes that ought to be completed. In other words, there are some formalities or processes you need to go through so as to avoid any trouble with authorities and to have a smooth stay in the country.
Foremost, are you an EU citizen? If you have a passport or you are living legally in any of the countries listed below, it is pretty easy and possible to work without work permit in Belgium: Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Denmark, Germany, Estonia, Finland, France, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Norway, Austria, Poland, Portugal, Slovenia, Czech Republic, Romania, Spain, Slovakia, Sweden and Switzerland.
After considering the above, next is to know if you’ll be staying in Belgium only for a short time or you’ll be staying for long and even purchase or rent/buy a house? And if you are not an EU citizen, simply put that you are not living in any of the countries listed above, then it is not feasible that you’ll be allowed to work in Belgium without a permit.
LIVING AND WORKING IN BELGIUM – FACTORS TO TAKE INTO CONSIDERATION.
In taking decision in living and working in Belgium it is important to consider the following factors?
1. Required qualifications: Are you a professional, do you have the required training or the type of expertise needed for those jobs that are sorted after. If you have sound knowledge, getting a job in Belgium become easy.
2. Self employment: It’s possible to set up your own small-scale business and be your own boss, provided you can follow the lay down rules and have a professional card which will enables you to practice your choosing profession.
Report to immigration and register your address
If you just arrived in the country, then you must first register with your local municipal administration office/town hall (referred to as Maison Comunale/gemeentehuis) within eight days of your arrival in Belgium. If you plan on staying in Belgium for more than three months, then this procedure applies to you. You will be issued a Belgian eID-card (electronic ID) if approved, after several weeks; therefore youreIDserves as your residence permit which must be carried on you at all times.
To avoid delay and headaches, ensure you have all the right documents at hand such as an international passport, your apartment or home address, 4 recently acquired passport-sized photographs and also a proof of health insurance and sufficient financial means (i.e. scholarship, pension papers, work permit or other financial guarantees).
Open a Belgian bank account
It’s important and necessary for you to own a Belgian bank account, this will make life in Belgium simpler. In some instances, the bank account may be requested, for cases like, to receive your salary or pay rent. There are various large and small banks in Belgium which foreigners can open an account. ING, BNP Paribas Fortis, and KBC are the main Belgian banks as well as several financial providers that offer specialized services (foreign languages, for example).
You will need a passport or your Belgian eID-card as proof of identity to register for a current or checking account, along with proof of residence. Banks will advise you on specific requirements and yearly fees should in case you’re interested in having a savings account or credit card,
Weather: Not too hot, not too cold
Belgium’s climate is classified as ‘temperate maritime’, this implies that it has both mild summers (especially in July when it has average temperature is 18.5°C / 65°F) and mild winters (especially in January when it has averaged near 3°C / 37°F).
LIVING AND WORKING IN BELGIUM – WORK PERMITS
A work permit is required from those who are not residing within the EU nations land does not have the Belgian passport. you will require a work permit but not required if you are a citizen of Belgium or of one of the European Union nations. Reason has been that, under EU laws, EU citizens are allowed to live and work in any of the EU states. It has been expanded in the last 7 years to include the countries of the European Economic Area (EU + Iceland, Norway, and Liechtenstein) and Switzerland.
Your employer is involved in this process because he/she must apply for your work permit at their local commune and must justify with genuine reason that your position is one that cannot be filled by a local person.
Belgium issues out three types of work permit:
- Permit C –this work permit is valid for 1 year, unlimited employers, it is non-renewable. It is primarily issued to foreign nationals who have a limited residency status (e.g. refugee, students, etc).
- Permit B – just like the Permit C, this work permit is valid for 1 year, but the differences include single employer, it is renewable and it is the most common work permit issued. Whenever you change job or employers, your new employer has to apply again for a work permit. This permit is renewable every year. You will be entitled to a Permit A after you have renewed the Permit B for 4 renewals and 5 years of residency in Belgium.
- Permit A –this permit has an unlimited duration, work for unlimited employers as well as allows you to work for any employer (in Belgium) for any duration.
Once your employer receives the work permit, you must take it to your commune’s foreign resident desk with 3 passport sized photos and any other supporting documents, you will be issued a residence permit and an ID card.
Employees salaries are paid monthly, which is a norm and less of an issue for other Europeans. This implies that you will have to budget your spending across the entire month. Also, salaries are indexed, meaning that each year, salaries are automatically increased, based on the health index (consumer price index minus fuel, tobacco, alcohol, and diesel).
Paid Time Off
Employees in Belgium enjoy more vacation time during a year, providing a better work/life balance. An employee that works for 5 days in a week for a 365 is entitled to 20 days of annual leave, including 10 public holidays.
Your annual leave is prepared and provided all at once at the beginning of the year, judging on the number of months you worked in the previous year.
Every Belgium citizen who works in Belgium is mandated to contribute to social security. This contribution is minus automatically from your salary. You need to register with a health insurance fund so as to be entitled to health insurance.
Belgium is said to have the highest tax and social security burden in the world; single taxpayers take home nothing less than 45% of their actual income, and 40% for those in the higher income bracket as take home.
However, due to their outstanding social security system, the country is ranked among the highest in the world in measures of well-being, says the OECD’s Better Life Index.
Conclusion Living And Working In Belgium
Living and working in Belgium is much easy if you are a citizen of any of the EU nations but a bit tedious for non EU, as you have to go through some formality processes. It’s worth it because the lifestyle, living conditions, food, weather, and people are friendly and it is one of the safest countries in the world.
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- LIVING AND WORKING IN GERMANY
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