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Since January 1, 2022: categories, conditions and documents required for the application of your first professional card

You will need a professional card if you, as a foreign national, want to work as a self-employed professional in the Flemish Region. On January 1, 2022, the new decree on professional cards came into force. This means that new conditions apply since then. On this page you will find the three categories of activities for which it is possible to apply for the professional card. For each category, you will also learn about the conditions and the necessary documents.

Three categories

There are 3 categories of self-employed activities for which you can apply for a professional card. To be considered for a professional card, your self-employed activity must fit into one of these categories:

  • self-employed activity with an economic added value (classic business)
  • self-employed activity with an innovative added value
  • self-employed activity with sporting, cultural or artistic added value.

Documents required for each first application

In order to apply for your first professional card, you need the following documents:

  • copy of your foreign identity card or international passport
  • copy of your valid Belgian residence permit if you are in Belgium:
    • a certificate of registration in the foreigners register (= electronic residence card type A)
    • an EU blue card (= electronic residence permit type H)
    • the declaration of arrival (= annex 3)
    It is no longer possible to submit an application in Belgium based on a so-called ‘orange card’ (‘attest van immatriculatie’) for the following reasons:
    • Your residence situation does not fall within the definition of legal residence according to the decree of 15 October 2021 concerning the performance of self-employed professional activities by foreign nationals.
    • Your situation of residence is too precarious to be able to start a self-employed activity.
    If you still want to apply for a professional card, you will have to submit your application via the Belgian embassy in the country where you do have a valid residence. In that case, you risk losing your temporary status as a person applying for family reunification or asylum in Belgium. Moreover, you will also lose the status on the basis of which the ‘orange card’ was obtained.
  • extract from the criminal records (no older than 6 months) issued by the competent authority of the country where you are authorised to reside
  • copy of the diploma of at least qualification level 4 (VKS 4 = level of secondary education)
  • proof that you will have stable, sufficient and regular means of subsistence to support yourself or your family (frame of reference is 120% of the living wage) and this as of the granting of the professional card.
  • a financial plan or liquidity forecast

All documents in your file must be drawn up in Dutch, French, German or English.

Documents required depending on the category to which your self-employed activity belongs

Check the information above to see to which category your self-employed activity belongs.

Assessment of application

A case handler determines, based on the documents received, to which category your self-employed activity belongs.

If your file is incomplete, you will be notified by e-mail. You have 30 days, counting from the day after this notification, to submit the missing documents or data via e-mail. If you do not provide them in time, your application will be declared inadmissible.

The substantive assessment is made based on all of the information above.

Your application can be rejected for one or more of the following reasons (this list is not exhaustive):

  • Your file contains inaccurate, forged or illegally obtained data, statements or illegally performed changes.
  • The conditions of the various categories are not met.
  • The self-employed activity has been started or is being performed with as primary objective:
    • obtaining a professional card
    • facilitating the entry of foreign employees or self-employed persons.
  • Your business does not perform economic or social activities.
    • Economic activities are activities that make a financial contribution to society. For example, if you start a business, it is considered an economic activity. Because this start-up brings with it tax obligations, such as paying VAT. The proceeds can be invested by the government in society.
    • Corporate social responsibility means that the activities focus on 3 pillars: profit (economy), people (commitment of employees and working together with them) and planet (taking into account the environment).
  • Your creditworthiness or that of your business is unfavourable.
  • Your business is bankrupt or in a position of apparent insolvency, is in the process of filing for bankruptcy or has applied for or been granted a legal reorganisation.
  • You do not adhere to the obligations that are imposed by tax and social legislation.