Moving to Brussels?

Connect with fellow expats in Brussels
Join exciting events and groups
Get information in our Brussels guides
Exchange tips about expat life in Brussels

Administrative Issues in Brussels

You’re 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 your relocation.
Planning to move to Brussels? InterNations is here to assist you!

If You Are Planning on Staying for a Longer Time

There are several different categories of long-term visas for Belgium. The type of visa depends on the purpose of your stay in Brussels. Processing times may vary, but an administration fee of 180 EUR is due for most types of long-term visas.

Together with two completed applications forms, you will need to submit the following standard documents:

  • your passport (valid for at least one year)
  • two recent passport photographs
  • an official criminal record disclosure covering the year preceding your application
  • an official medical certificate (or a copy of the one already provided for your work permit). Every Belgian embassy or consulate should provide you with a list of approved doctors for this purpose.

Belgian Visas: Which One Is Right for You?

The following overview deals with the main kinds of visas available to people coming to Brussels for work or business.

  • Employee visa: This is only granted together with a work permit (B), which must be obtained separately by your employer. The permit is initially valid for up to 12 months and can be renewed after a year. Highly qualified candidates who earn more than 39,802 EUR per year (2016) can get the work permit B without a labor market study.
  • Self-employed visa: Before applying for this visa, you need the authorization of the Federal Public Service for Economy, SMEs, Self-Employed and Energy. This authorization comes in the form of a “professional card” (carte professionnelle beroepskaart), which can be requested via the Belgian mission. Among other things, your application for that card needs to include a project plan and proof of your professional skills and experience.
  • For well-qualified and well-paid applicants, the European Blue Card is also a valid option. You must have a bachelor’s degree, a confirmed job offer in Belgium, and an annual salary of 51,466 EUR or more per year (2016). The card is valid for an initial period of 13 months and can be renewed for about five years in total.  
  • Senior managers are not eligible for the European Blue Card if they earn more than 66,406 EUR per year (2016). However, they are usually exempt from work permit requirements in general. If you are a high-level executive wanting to work in Belgium, please ask your company or the Belgian mission how to proceed.
  • Research: Scientists and post-docs are usually exempt from work permits as long as they are conducting research in Belgium or have a hosting agreement with an accredited research institute. The exemption can last up to three years or for the duration of the research project.
  • Specialist visas are also available for investors, interns, au pairs, de facto relationships (when one of the partners is Belgian), regrouping families (when one person of the married couple is Belgian), and working holiday visas for Canadians between 18 and 30 years old.

After the Visa Comes Registration

There is a legal obligation for foreign residents to register with their local commune within eight days of arrival. However, this only applies if your stay exceeds a period of three months. You can find the contact details of all municipal authorities on the website of the Association de la Ville et des Communes de la Région de Bruxelles-Capitale. When showing up to register, you should bring proof of residence in the form of a rental agreement and your bank details.

A new Europe-wide system of electronic identity cards for foreign residents has recently been implemented in Belgium. It replaces the old carte blanche (certificate of inscription), carte jaune (identity card for third-state nationals), and carte bleue (identity card for EU nationals). The new electronic card contains biometric data on an invisible chip, serving as a certificate of address registration, residence permit, and alien ID card for third-country nationals. The new identity card for EU citizens in Belgium is similar to that for Belgian citizens. 


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


Kelly Powell

"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

"You can really get lost in the "capital of Europe" - InterNations helped me to get settled and to make a lot of expat friends."

Global Expat Guide