Gent's local economy is largely based around the Port of Gent, which is the third largest port in Belgium. The port is accessed by the Gent-Terneuzen Canal, which continues on to the Dutch port of Terneuzen, located on the Western Scheldt. Ghent is a major transit point for exports coming from the Netherlands. The Port of Gent itself is home to many large companies and corporations, including Volvo Cars, Honda, and Stora Enso. Many expatriates in the city are employed in senior or technical positions at the port.
Another major sector of the economy is research and development, which is based out of the world-renowned Ghent University and the many private corporations that are based in the city, including Ablynx, Innogenetics, Cropdesign, and Bayer Cropscience.
Whether or not you will need a permit to work in Gent depends on your nationality. As Belgium is a member of the European Union, EU/EEA citizens will not need a permit to work in Gent; they will, however, need to register for a residence permit if they are working in Gent for longer than three months. Citizens of non-EU/EEA nations will need a permit to work in Gent.
The responsibility for applying for the work permit usually rests on the business or organization employing the foreigner, and they will apply for a work permit on the employee's behalf. So non-EU expatriates typically need to secure employment before they will be granted a permit to work in Gent, unless they qualify for a self-employed visa or one of the other specialist categories, such as the research visa.
Initial work permits (Types B and C) are usually valid for one year, and can be renewed. Once an expatriate has worked in Gent on a Type B or C work permit for four consecutive years, they are able to apply for a long-term Type A work permit.
Expatriates living and working in Gent will be required to pay income tax on their earnings. If you live and work in Gent for more than 183 days in a 12 month period, you will pay income tax at Belgian rates on your worldwide income; if you live and work in Gent for less than 183 days in a year, you will pay income tax at the Belgian rate on your Belgian income only. Like much of Europe, Belgium has a progressive, sliding scale tax system where your total earnings determine the amount of income tax you will pay. The rates for income tax for 2014 were as follows:
However, there are also certain tax deductions available for citizens, including: