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Moving to Brussels?

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Kelly Powell

Living in Belgium, from USA

"I loved moving to Brussels. But after a while I felt homesick. On InterNations I met a bunch of people from the US. That helped a lot."

Maria Lombardi

Living in Belgium, from Italy

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Brussels at a Glance

Moving to Brussels

You will be moving to Brussels? InterNations helps you brave Belgian bureaucracy! We provide you with useful information on the administrative obstacles for expats in Brussels. Read on to find out more about visa and registration requirements for foreigners and other tips for moving to Brussels.

Most expats moving to Brussels find it relatively easy to settle in this international city, which is not only the capital of Belgium, but also one of the “EU capitals”. Due to the many international as well as intergovernmental organizations in Brussels, the city has become a major center for international politics. Numerous journalists, diplomats, politicians, military personnel, and civil servants from across the globe move to Brussels every year, creating a metropolitan flair in this city of just over a million inhabitants.

Overview

The weather in Brussels is not fantastic: Expats moving to Brussels will encounter a temperate climate, with relatively cool summers and winters, although temperatures rarely drop below zero. However, you should be prepared for quite a lot of rain all year round. While it is not the greenest city in Europe, Brussels does have quite a few public gardens, parks, and forests, to be enjoyed on a sunny day.

Foreigners moving to Brussels should be aware of the city’s bilingual status, which is reflected in its complicated system of government and administration. As one of Belgium’s three administrative regions, the Brussels Capital Region unites 19 municipalities, which are predominantly French-speaking.

Brussels is also the administrative seat of both the French and the Flemish Communities: This does not only cause confusion among expatriates moving to Brussels, but also among long-standing residents. Public administration is organized on various levels, as competencies are spread across regional, communal and municipal bodies, or sometimes a mixture of all three. Newcomers should allow spending some time after their move on finding their way through the bureaucratic maze.

Visa Requirements

EU citizens (including Swiss nationals) do not require a visa to move to Brussels. Most other nationalities do need a visa for moving to Brussels, although certain countries benefit from a visa waiver agreement. To find out whether you need to apply for a visa, please check with the Belgian Embassy or Consulate in your country of residence.

Application forms for both long-term and short-term visas have to be completed and sent to the nearest Belgian mission in advance of your move to Brussels. Please note that additional documents must be submitted with your application, depending on the type of visa you need for moving to Brussels.

Schengen Visa

A Schengen visa grants third-state nationals limited access to all 26 member states of the Schengen area. These include Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, and Sweden, plus Norway, Iceland, and Switzerland.

“Limited access” means that your stay in the Schengen area is limited to 90 days. There are, however, no restrictions to the purpose of your stay. A Schengen visa can be used both for business travel and vacation.

Applying for a Schengen Visa

Together with your application form, you need to submit your passport (valid for at least three months beyond the duration of your stay), two passport photographs, a travel or health insurance certificate, and evidence of sufficient financial means to support yourself. For business visits, a letter of invitation from a Belgian company outlining the purpose and duration of your stay is also required.

It takes three to four weeks to process a Schengen visa application, and you must pay an administration fee of €60. Once the visa has been granted, you will be asked to present a valid return ticket for your journey.

InterNations Expat Magazine