Work permit and employment authorisation
In principle, foreign workers who want to pursue salaried employment in Belgium, must apply for a work permit. However, this does not apply to nationals of the Member States of the European Economic Area or Swiss nationals.
You are an EU/EEA/Swiss citizen
If you live in one of the following countries, you may go and work in Belgium without a work permit: Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Denmark, Germany, Estonia, Finland, France, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Norway, Austria, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Czech Republic, United Kingdom, Sweden and Switzerland.
Are you staying longer than three months in Belgium to work there? Then sign up within three months after your arrival in the municipality of your residence.
Do you want more information on the formalities and the documents needed? Visit Eures, the European Job Mobility Portal. Eures was established by the European Commission to help European citizens find work in another country of the European Union (EU) or European Economic Area (EEA). It has a network of advisers, who can give you information and advice on job search in Europe and help you to get in touch with European employers. They can also give you more general practical information on living and working conditions in another EU/EEA country, e.g. social security, information on pay levels, taxes, recruitment practices or provide pre-departure and on arrival advice.
You are not an EU/EEA/Swiss citizen
You are not living in one of the countries mentioned above? Then it is not sure that you are allowed to work in Belgium. Contact the Belgian embassy in your country for more information.
Foreign workers who are not EU/EEA/Swiss nationals and who want to pursue salaried employment in Belgium, must apply for a work permit in advance.
There are different types of work permits:
- Work permit A
The A permit gives you permission to exercise any kind of profession in salaried employment with any employer for a period of unlimited duration. The issue of a work permit A is subject to very strict conditions. It may only be granted to certain categories of foreign workers who have already worked for several years in Belgium with a work permit B.
- Work permit B
The B permit is the standard form of work permit for most foreigners. This permit is limited to employment with a single employer and is valid for a maximum of 12 months, but it can be extended. The employee for whom an application is being submitted, must still be abroad. The B permit is granted only if the employer obtains an employment permit in advance.
- Work permit C
The C permit is granted to certain categories of foreign nationals who are allowed to reside in the country for reasons other than employment (students, asylum seekers, …). The work permit C is valid for a limited period (maximum 12 months), but it can be renewed under certain conditions.
Applications must be submitted by the employee to the Department of Economic Migration in the province of the place of residence.
- European Blue Card
The European Blue Card is a combined work and residence permit that allows highly skilled workers from outside the EU to live and work in Belgium for more than three months.
The federal government for Social Security has provided a one-stop shop Working in Belgium: Limosa which considerably simplifies your administrative obligations if you want to employ someone in Belgium as a foreign company or organisation, or if you want to establish yourself in Belgium in order to pursue a temporary or partial activity as a self-employed person.
Foreign workers who are seeking to exercise a self-employed professional activity, either as natural persons or within an association or a partnership in fact or in law, must have a professional card. A professional card is the document authorising a foreign self-employed person to exercise a specific activity as a self-employed person on Belgian territory, in a certain capacity and for a certain period (1 to 5 years maximum). A certain number of categories of foreigners working in a self-employed capacity are exempted from the requirement to possess a professional card.