Working in Antwerp?

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Working in Antwerp

If you are planning on working in Antwerp as an expat, you’ll probably appreciate some advice about work permits, key industries, and the city’s general economic climate. Read on to discover all the information you need to start working in this city successfully.
The city's port is the second largest in Europe by freight volume, and amongst the top ten in the world.

At a Glance:

  • The service and industrial sectors employ the most people. Antwerp’s port, one of the biggest in Europe, supplies many jobs, and the diamond and fashion industries also present many employment opportunities.
  • There are different work permits which are based on a variety of factors, such as your country of origin, the length of your stay, and the kind of job you will perform.
  • Income taxes are based on your residency status and Belgium has agreements that protect against double taxation. The social security system is contribution based and divided between several sectors.


Working in Antwerp will place you in the largest city in Flanders, and a major gateway to the wider region. Antwerp is a key financial player, even beyond Belgium. The city accounts for more than one-sixth of the nation’s GDP and employs more than one-eighth of the population of Flanders. Therefore, you’ll feel like you’re working in a major city, even if Antwerp itself is rather compact!

Antwerp’s Economy: Opportunities in the Service and Industrial Sectors

In Antwerp, most people are employed in the service sector, which accounts for some 75% of business in the city. But the impressive growth in this sector has also been matched by the expansion of the industrial sector, which now represents one-fifth of the city’s economic activity. The agricultural sector accounts for a very small proportion of the wider region’s GDP. Indeed, you won’t find many people working in agriculture in Flanders. It actually has the lowest percentage of people employed by this sector in the entire EU. As an expat you will probably, therefore, find employment in the service or industrial sectors.

Skilled-employment opportunities within the city are numerous; however, Antwerp does have a high-rate of unemployment amongst youths and unskilled residents from disadvantaged groups.

The closure of the Antwerp Stock Exchange in 1997 shifted Belgium’s financial sector to the capital, Brussels. If this is your field of expertise, working in Antwerp is less ideal than Brussels, but there are still opportunities out there.

The Biggest in Europe: Antwerp’s Port

Antwerp’s economic life has long been connected to its existence as a seaport and is inseparable from the city’s favorable geographic location. Its transportation links and modern infrastructure make the city a European trading center, so those working here have plenty of contact with foreign companies.

The port is one of the largest in Europe, and is characterized by its bustling activity. Many people working in Antwerp are in some way connected to this hub of industry — the port itself directly and indirectly employs almost 150,000 people. Each week ships sail to 325 destinations, heavily involved in international trade. If you would like more information on Antwerp’s port, check out the Port of Antwerp website.

From Diamonds to Fashion: Jobs in Antwerp

The port and the city’s other industrial activities have attracted many commercial agencies, commission agents, import and export firms, banking establishments, insurance companies, road transportation enterprises, and railways. You are sure to be able to find a job in Antwerp amidst this wide range of options!

Other important industries include the manufacture and sale of photographic and electronic equipment, and, of course, the diamond trade, which has made Antwerp famous around the world for the last 500 years! There are thousands of diamond specialists working in Antwerp doing a yearly trade of about 56 billion USD!

Given the popularity of shopping in Flanders and Antwerp’s impressive fashion scene, many retailers see the city as a favored place to invest. So, working in Antwerp might credibly involve working in fashion and/or retail, the latter being one of the top three sectors with the most job vacancies.


We do our best to keep this article up to date. However, we cannot guarantee that the information provided is always current or complete.

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"With the help of InterNations members we've found a good real estate agent. Now we live in a very nice house on the outskirts of Antwerp."

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