The professional card is compulsory if you want to start working in Belgium as a self-employed person in a sole proprietorship, a company or association, and you: :

  • do not have the Belgian nationality
  • do not have the nationality of an EU Member State, or of:
    • Iceland
    • Norway
    • Liechtenstein
    • or Switzerland.
  • are not eligible for other reasons to obtain an exemption for the professional card.

Self-employed activities” include all operations not covered by the employment of foreign workers (services provided and/or work performed under authority, either within an employment contract or not). Self-employed activities therefore include both the temporary provision of services within the Flemish Region and the starting of a new company or place of business in the Flemish Region.

To obtain a professional card, you must:

  • have a valid residence permit for Belgium.
    Is the self-employed activity the reason for your stay, and do you not yet have a residence permit when applying for the professional card? In that case, apply for the permit together with your professional card at the Belgian diplomatic mission or consular post in your country of residence.
    Do you already have a right to reside for a reason other than self-employment? In that case, you are eligible for a professional card that does not provide the right of residence, under more flexible criteria.
  • with a first application: you must carry out a self-employed activity that has social, cultural, artistic or sporting added value or that is of economic benefit to Flanders.

  • when renewing your professional card: you must have complied with the conditions attached to the professional card (i.e. economic benefit, sporting, cultural or other added value), and you have paid taxes and social security contributions.

    Economic benefit

    An activity has economic benefit if it:

    • meets an economic need for Flanders
    • is innovative or specialised
    • creates jobs
    • gives rise to investments
    • has a positive economic effect on businesses in Flanders
    • or promotes export.

    The economic benefit is not evaluated if

    • You already have a right to reside in Belgium for a reason other than self-employment (e.g. work permit/single permit, regularisation, family reunification, etc.). In that case, the professional card does not give any right to reside and the application is assessed on the basis of the existing right to reside and compliance with regulatory obligations.

      If the situation of the person in question changes and the professional card should include the right to reside in primary occupation or secondary occupation (change of status), then an application for a change can be submitted which specifically refers to this. In this case, the Economic Migration Department will, however, assess the importance of the project for Flanders.

      If a work permit/single permit is obtained after the professional card has been issued, the professional card can only be issued for a secondary occupation when a renewal is due.
    • You apply for a renewal of your professional card as a third-country national with long-term residence in another EU Member State.

      The renewal will be assessed solely on the basis of your current and expected income, with the guaranteed average minimum monthly income as lowest threshold.