Refugees from Ukraine with temporary protection status are exempted from the professional car

As of 20 August 2022, refugees from Ukraine with temporary protection status are exempted from the professional card to work as self-employed persons in Belgium. This is done on the basis of the Royal Decree of 30 July 2022 (in Dutch) (in Dutch) ((opens in new window)) as published in the Belgian Official Gazette of 10 August 2022.

For the registration to be able to start as a self-employed person in Flanders (including applying for an enterprise number, joining a social insurance fund, etc.) we would like to refer to one of the accredited business counters ((opens in new window)).

Partner and family of a Belgian

You are exempt from the professional card if you are the legal partner (marital or legally cohabiting partner) of somebody with the Belgian nationality.

The following persons are also exempt if they cohabit with somebody with the Belgian nationality:

  • children and grandchildren of the person with the Belgian nationality or his/her legal partner, on condition that they are younger than 21 or dependent
  • parents and grandparents of the person with the Belgian nationality or his/her legal partner, on condition that they are dependent
  • married partners or legally cohabiting partners of children, grandchildren, parents and grandparents living at home, as described above.

This category of exemptions includes persons with an electronic F or F+ card (for third-country family members of Belgians and EU citizens).

Citizens of the European Economic Area (EEA) and Switzerland

You are exempt from the professional card if you hold the nationality of a country of the EEA (EU Member States plus Iceland, Norway, Liechtenstein) or Switzerland.

The following persons are also exempt if they cohabit at a Belgian address with somebody who has the nationality of an EEA country:

  • legal partner (married or legally cohabiting partner) of an EEA citizen
  • children and grandchildren of an EEA citizen or his/her legal partner, on condition that they are younger than 21 or dependent
  • parents and grandparents of an EEA citizen or his/her legal partner, on condition that they are dependent
  • legal partners of children, grandchildren, parents and grandparents living at home, as described above.

The following persons are also exempt if they cohabit at a Belgian address with somebody who has the Swiss nationality:

  • legal partner (married or legally cohabiting partner) of the Swiss national
  • his child, younger than 21.

This category of exemptions includes persons with an electronic E, E+, EU or EU+ card (for Union citizens) as well as persons with an electronic F or F+ card (for third-country family members of Belgians and Union citizens).

Important: third-country nationals with the status of long-term resident in a country of the European Union other than Belgium, are not exempt purely on the basis of their long-term residence.

Persons with a specific residence card and recognised refugees

You are exempt from the professional card with a:

  • valid identity card for foreigners (electronic residence permit type C or K)
  • proof of registration in the foreigners register without restrictive residence conditions (type B)
  • proof of registration as a third-country national with long-term residency in Belgium (type D or L)
  • right to reside as beneficiary of the Withdrawal Agreement between the European Union and the United Kingdom (electronic residence permit type M or N).

You are also exempt from the professional card if you are recognised as a refugee in Belgium. In that case, the word ‘refugee’ (‘vluchteling’) is stated on the reverse of your Belgian residence permit under the word ‘nationality’. You are not entitled to an exemption for the professional card if ‘stateless’ is stated.

Persons with the status of assisting spouse

You are exempt from the professional card if you assist your married or legally cohabiting partner or deputise for him/her in the self-employed professional activity. This exemption only applies within one-man businesses.

Self-employed service providers

If you, as a foreign national, reside legally in an EEA country or Switzerland and are there operating legally as self-employed, you may enter Belgium to perform services without a professional card.

Important: you do need a professional card if you want to establish yourself as self-employed in the Flemish Region.

Unremunerated directors in a secondary occupation

You are exempt from the professional card if you take on an unpaid mandate as a director in a secondary occupation and if you meet the following criteria:

  • The unremunerated character of the mandate can be read from the articles of association or the appointment act
  • You have a valid single permit for a full-time activity as executive or highly-skilled employee
  • The duties as an unpaid director are clearly distinguished from the duties as an employee.

Restricted performances for specific purposes

You are exempt if your activities in Belgium have one of the following purposes, the performance of which is restricted to a maximum of 90 days within a period of 180 days:

Students, trainees and lawyers

You are exempt from the professional card if you reside legally in Belgium and you are in one of the following situations:

  • You are a student who is on a mandatory traineeship in Belgium for his/her studies.
    • You are exempt from the professional card for the duration of the traineeship, on condition that you are studying in Belgium, an EU Member State, Iceland, Norway, Liechtenstein or Switzerland.
  • You obtained a university degree in the European Economic Area (EEA: Belgium, other EU Member State, Iceland, Norway, Liechtenstein) or Switzerland, and you are performing a mandatory traineeship in Belgium for the fulfillment of that degree.
    • You are exempt from the professional card for the duration of the traineeship.
    • For example, the trainee dentist who fulfils a traineeship in order to obtain an additional degree, or the trainee-architect who undertakes a traineeship in order to be recognised as an architect by the Order of Architects.
    • Do you reside in Belgium and has your diploma from outside the EEA/Switzerland already been recognised by NARIC-Vlaanderen (National Academic Recognition Information Centre)? Then you are also eligible for an exemption from the professional card for the duration of the traineeship.
  • You are performing a traineeship in Belgium in the context of development cooperation or an exchange programme.
    • You are exempt from the professional card for the duration of the traineeship, on condition that the traineeship is approved by the competent authority.
  • You are a lawyer registered on the roll of the Bar Association or on the list of trainees.
    • You are not exempt from the professional card if you are registered on the B list of the bar.

Important: if you are residing in Belgium for a so-called search year ((opens in new window)) (‘zoekjaar’) after graduating in Belgium, you are not exempt from the professional card.