Who does not need a work permit?
This is a seconded worker whose foreign employer has posted them in Belgium to work for a set time. The worker is under the employment of their foreign employer.
Every secondment must be declared to the Belgian authorities via a Limosa declaration(opens in new window).
There is no work permit required for a seconded worker who is a national of a member state of the European Economic Area (all EU countries plus Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein) or Switzerland.
Foreign workers who come to Flanders for a short period to perform work that is related to the nature of their profession do not need permission to work. This is specifically for times when they are performing short assignments as seconded employees:
- as trade representatives, journalists, athletes, artists or participants in scientific programmes
- as diplomats or employees of government departments, or of international transport service providers.
Short appointment posted as a seconded employee, or when self-employed with a Limosa declaration
Is the employee’s Limosa declaration(opens in new window) complete and in order? If so, the employee no longer needs to apply for a work permit or a declaration of exemption as long as they meet one of the following conditions (the employer – or client – will check the latter for the employee).
- is a foreign trade representative for a foreign company that does not have a branch in Belgium, and is coming to Belgium to visit clients. The stay in Belgium will not last longer than 3 months.
- is coming to Belgium on behalf of a foreign company, to pick up goods that are made in Belgium. The stay in Belgium will not last longer than 3 months.
- is a foreign journalist who is on assignment in Belgium. The stay in Belgium will not last longer than 3 months. The journalist is employed by :
- a newspaper published outside Belgium
- a press agency based outside Belgium
- or a radio or television station based outside Belgium.
- is a foreign employee following a training course at the Belgian site of a group of companies. The training course is part of a training agreement between the companies in the group. The training, and therefore the stay in Belgium, will not last longer than 3 months.
- is an intra-corporate transferee who holds a valid employment authorisation as an ICT in another EU Member State, and who works temporarily (in so-called short-term mobility: maximum 90 days out of a 180-day period) as a professional or managerial staff member, specialist or trainee employee in the Belgian branch of a foreign multinational company. His or her remuneration is no less favourable than that of comparable positions based on applicable laws, collective agreements or practices. In doing so, the stay cannot exceed three months - through the so-called Schengen stay (90 days of presence out of a total period of 180 days).
- is temporarily performing research from Belgium, with a valid permit – short-term mobility. The employee is receiving income for this employment and this remuneration is sufficient to meet the needs of the employee and their family. The stay in Belgium may last longer than 3 months.
- works for a company from the EEA or Switzerland and is coming to Belgium to provide services. As such, the stay in Belgium may last longer than 3 months. The employee meets the conditions below:
- The employee has the right to remain or a residence permit of more than three months in the European member state in which they reside.
- The employee is legally employed in the member state where they reside and their permit is valid for the time they will be working in Belgium or longer.
- The employee has a regular employment contract.
- The employee has a passport and a residence permit that is valid for at least as long as their appointment, guaranteeing their return to their country of origin or residence.
Details of these conditions: Article 16, §1 of the Government of Flanders Order of 7 December 2018.
Longer than 3months
Is the employee staying in Belgium for longer than 3 months as a trade representative, while picking up goods, while on assignment as a journalist or while training within a group? In each of these situations, the employee needs a work permit.
Short employment as a seconded employee or self-employed professional without a Limosa declaration
A Limosa declaration(opens in new window) is not needed if the employee is not staying in Belgium for longer than 3 months and meets 1 of the conditions below:
- The employee works in the international transport of passengers and goods and is not performing any cabotage activities.
- The employee is seconded to Belgium for the initial assembly and/or first installation of supplied goods, such as a technical installation, and the duration of these works will not take longer than 8 days. The assembly or installation:
- is an important part of a contract for the supply of goods
- is necessary for the supplied goods to be put into commission
- is performed by qualified and/or specialised employees from the organisation that is supplying the goods. Activities in the construction sector do not qualify here.
- The employee works as a specialised technician for a foreign employer and is performing urgent maintenance work or repairs to equipment or machinery in a Belgian company. The equipment or machinery was supplied by the employer. To perform these activities, the employee is remaining in Belgium for no more than 5 calendar days per month.
- The employee is attending a scientific conference in Belgium.
- The employee is taking part in a meeting involving a small number of people in Belgium. They will therefore be in Belgium for a maximum of 60 days per calendar year, and no more than 20 consecutive days per meeting.
- The employee works with a government agency.
- The employee is a member of a diplomatic or consular mission.
- The employee is coming to Belgium on the assignment of a foreign employer for a maximum of 3 months per year. They are doing this to participate in international sporting events, or because the employee is:
- a referee
- a coach
- an official representative
- a staff member
- someone who is accredited and/or recognised by (inter)national sporting federations.
All the functions above are also eligible on the condition that the employee does not stay in Belgium for their activities for longer than 3 months per calendar year.
- The employee is an artist of international renown, or an assistant whose presence is required at performances. The employee will stay in Belgium for no longer than 21 days per quarter.
- The employee is a scientist or researcher and taking part in a scientific programme at a host university or scientific institution in Belgium.
A foreign employee who has not come to Belgium to work, but for another reason; for example, in the context of a family reunification or as an asylum seeker. In this case, there are two possibilities:
Indefinite right to residence
A foreign national with the unlimited right to residence does not need a work permit. They may perform any form of work with any employer.
Right to residence for a fixed term
The residence document of a foreign national with the right of residence for a fixed term specifies whether the foreign national is permitted to work in Belgium.
The foreign national is automatically granted permission to work in Belgium if they satisfy one of the following reasons for residency, as specified in the Royal Decree of 2 September 2018 (in Dutch)(opens in new window):
- The foreign national is a citizen of a member state of the European Economic Area or the Swiss Confederation (Art. 4).
- The foreign national has a special residence permit because they perform a specific profession (Art. 5).
- The foreign national is the partner or child of a holder of a special residence permit on the basis of a specific profession. The reciprocity agreement must be applicable for this (Art. 6).
- The foreign national is working as part of a work-placement agreement or is following a course based on the principles of work-based learning (Art. 7).
- The foreign national is a recognised refugee (Art. 8).
A foreign national who has obtained the status of “refugee” in a country other than Belgium may NOT use that status in Belgium. In Belgium, the person is simply considered based on his/her origin/nationality. For example: a Syrian woman obtains “refugee” status in Greece. She will have certain rights and obligations of residence and employment in Greece itself. If she comes to Belgium for employment, she will be considered Syrian, and will therefore need an employment authorisation to work.
- The foreign national has compulsory work placement for their studies in Belgium, in the European Economic Area or the Swiss Confederation (Art. 9).
- The foreign national has been enrolled in the register of foreign nationals with temporary residence, as any of the following:
- a student with an apprenticeship contract or a contract for work-based learning (Art. 10,1°)
- a foreign student studying at a Belgian educational institution (Art. 10,2°)
- a beneficiary of international agreements under the Working Holiday programme (Art. 10,3°)
- a person who has received humanitarian regularisation (Art. 10,4°)’
- a person with subsidiary protection (Art. 10,5°)
- a person with temporary protection (Art. 10,6°)
- an unaccompanied foreign minor (Art. 10,7°)
- a recognised family-reunification sponsor (Art. 10,8°)
- a victim of human trafficking (Art. 10,9°)
- ahe spouse or child of a holder of a special residence permit on the basis of a specific post (Art. 10,10°).
- The foreign national is a person with the right to residence for an indefinite period (Art. 11).
- The foreign national has an identity card for foreign nationals (Art. 12).
- The foreign national has an ‘EC long-term resident’ residence permit (Art. 13).
- The foreign national has a residence card as a family member of a national of the European Union (Art. 14).
- The foreign national has a permanent residence card as a family member of a national of the European Union (Art. 15).
- The foreign national is a pending family-reunification, the sponsor is an adult with an EU nationality (Art. 16).
- The foreign national is the spouse of a Belgian, or of a national of a member state of the European Economic Area who has received an Annex 15 as a frontier worker (Art. 17).
- The foreign national has a certificate of registration – Model A:
- non-EU national family sponsor (family reunion?) under investigation (Art.18,1°)
- victim of human trafficking (Art.) 18,2°)
- asylum seeker (Art. 18,3°).
- He holds an Annex 35 and is appealing to the Council for Alien Law Litigation:
- non-EU national family sponsor under investigation (Art. 19,1°)
- non-EU national family sponsor under investigation (Art. 19,2°)
- asylum seeker (Art. 19,3°).
View all details by category
Please note: The employee must provide evidence of their specific residence situation to the Civil Register Service and/or Immigration Department for their municipality; the Economic Migration Department is not authorised to do this. The employee will receive a residence permit on the basis of their residence situation; it automatically permits them to work.
Who does need a work permit?
Foreign nationals who do not meet the conditions for the categories and exemptions above are not permitted to work in Belgium, unless prior authorisation has been granted.
The type of work that a foreign national will perform determines whether they will be permitted to join the labour market. Only certain categories of foreign employees are eligible.
Since January 1, 2021, new rules also apply to British nationals who want to work in Flanders.
Simulator: is a work permit required? (dutch only)
By answering the questions, you can check which categories of employees may be eligible for work permits. (dutch only)