moving-to-luxembourg

Moving to Luxembourg

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A comprehensive guide to moving to Luxembourg

Moving to Luxembourg is an attractive option for expats. Despite its tiny size, the country is proud of its historical heritage, and is one of the founding members of the EU. On InterNations GO!, learn about a move to Luxembourg, including: visa information, transportation, and security.

Relocating to Luxembourg

  • Luxembourg is one of the smallest states in Europe, but still hosts very diverse landscapes.

  • If you are a non-EU citizen, you will need a Schengen visa to enter the country. Incidentally, the Schengen convention was signed in Luxembourg and named after a city in the country.

  • Luxembourg shares borders with Germany, France, and Belgium. Those countries are very close by train or car, if you wish to visit them.

Moving to Luxembourg is a wonderful cultural, historical, and linguistic experience; and, given that almost 44% of the population is comprised of expats and foreigners, it’s quite an international experience, too. This small country was founded in AD 963 and today belongs to the Benelux Customs Union. It is the only independent duchy — the territory of a duke — in the world. Luxembourg is a fairy-tale country with a history of wars and victories, kings and castles. However, there is more to moving to Luxembourg than its historical heritage. As one of the six EU founding countries, along with Belgium, France, Italy, the Netherlands, and West Germany, it also plays an important role within the European Union.

Small Country, Varied Landscapes

The Grand Duchy of Luxembourg is just under 2,600 km2, which makes it about two-thirds the size of Rhode Island — the USA’s smallest state. Situated in the heart of Europe, sharing borders with Belgium, France, and Germany, the country is landlocked. It is also multilingual: Lëtzebuergesch (Luxembourgish), French, and German are all official languages and taught at school and university. Luxembourg is divided into two natural regions: Guttland in the south and east, and Oesling in the north. Despite its small size, the country hosts diverse landscapes of mountains, forests, and valleys.

Luxembourg’s climate is quite temperate, with mild winters and comfortable summer days. Weather conditions can, nevertheless, vary considerably. When moving to Luxembourg, you should be well prepared for rain to occur all year round. The Ardennes region in the north is colder and wetter than Luxembourg’s south. Annual average temperatures for the entire country range from -2.1°C to 21.6°C.

Oesling and Guttland: Luxembourg’s Main Regions

As mentioned above, expats moving to Luxembourg will settle in one of the country’s two main regions: Oesling (or Eisléck) in the north and the Guttland (literally “Good Country”) in the south. Oesling covers one-third of the country’s territory and belongs to the Ardennes. The Guttland, on the other hand, is mostly composed of farmland and also comprises the wine-producing valley of the Moselle in the East. Wherever your expat relocation lands you, you’re likely to end up living in a city or town with a European feel, international connections, and the opportunity to speak several languages including French, German, and Luxembourgish. When moving to Luxembourg as an expat, it’s not necessary to learn Luxembourgish to feel at home. The friendly locals will happily speak to you in whatever languages you can speak.

Small Yet Impressive: Luxembourg City

Luxembourg City is the biggest urban center in the country. However, “urban” is somewhat of an exaggeration considering the city’s population of only 107,000 inhabitants. Nevertheless, the little city impresses expats moving to Luxembourg with its narrow streets, historic buildings and bridges, and old fortress. However, if you really want to mingle with the locals living in Luxembourg, you need to visit the taverns and pubs off the beaten track.

The Capital of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg was founded in the year 963 and traditionally served as one of Europe’s most powerful fortresses. A treasure trove of ancient remains, such as the Casemates and the ruins of the fortifications, Luxembourg City has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1994.

Of Abbeys and Castles: Oesling and the Ardennes

Oesling is located in Luxembourg’s north and belongs to the Ardennes; it borders the Eifel plateau in Germany. Expats moving to Luxembourg’s north should not hesitate to explore the region’s rich forests and deep valleys as well as its rivers and lakes. The Oesling is Luxembourg’s highest region, rising up to 560 meters above sea level. As a result, the climate is, of course, colder than in other parts of the country.

Make sure to stop by the region’s main towns of Wiltz, Clervaux, and Vianden. Particularly Clervaux and Vianden are worth a visit upon your move to Luxembourg, for their beautiful old castles overlooking the rivers Clerve and Our. The Benedictine Abbey in Clervaux hosts a World War II museum, while the Vianden Castle showcases antique tapestries and armor.

Guttland: Famous for the Moselle Wine Valley

Guttland covers almost 70% of Luxembourg’s territory and is mostly characterized by its forests and valleys. The Moselle Valley is the most imposing one of them and attracts many tourists with its vineyards and delicious wine. Upon moving to Luxembourg, you should not miss out on Müllerthal, also referred to as Petite Suisse (Little Switzerland). This area is located north of the Moselle Valley and is home to one of the oldest towns in Luxembourg, Echternach.

The Valley of the Seven Castles, on the other hand, is the perfect destination for romantics moving to Luxembourg. The 24 km area includes the two castles of Ansembourg, as well as the chateaux of Koerich, Septfontaines, Schoenfels, Hollenfels, and Mersch. At the same time, Guttland is home to meadows, picturesque villages, and forests, making it the perfect home for outdoor enthusiasts in Luxembourg.

Luxembourg’s Visa Requirements

Schengen Visas: Do You Need One?

Expats who have visited or lived in Europe before may be familiar with the concept of the Schengen visa. In fact, the convention which aimed to eliminate border controls between participating countries was signed in a town called Schengen, in Luxembourg. With this type of visa, you are free to travel between the participating countries without requiring additional visa documents or being subject to border controls.

Schengen visas are valid for 90 days and are a good short-term option if you are making a preliminary trip to Luxembourg. Not all visitors are required to apply for a Schengen visa: if you’re not sure, check this  list of countries (in French) to see if you will require a visa.

Long-Term Stays for Union Citizens: Only One Document Is Needed

So-called Union citizens, i.e. EU/EEA nationals and Swiss citizens, who are planning on living in Luxembourg, have no need for such a Schengen visa, nor do they need to apply for a residence or work permit.

In general, however, as long as a Union citizen can prove that they have sufficient resources at their disposal (e.g. in the form of a job in Luxembourg), they only need to apply for a Registration Attestation (Attestation d’enregistrement) at the responsible municipality where they are planning to stay for more than three months.  

Residence Permit for a Salaried Employee: It Is More Complicated

If you aren’t such a Union citizen, you will need to secure a valid entry visa, i.e. a temporary authorization to stay (Autorisation de Séjour Temporaire), as well as a residence permit in order to work as an expat in Luxembourg. There are various categories based on which you might be able to apply for these. The following information refers to the application process for salaried employees.

Before Your Move

There are a few steps your prospective employer has to take before you can apply for your residence permit. They have to declare the vacant post to the Administration de l’Emploi (Employment Office) and prove that they could not find a suitable employee in Luxembourg’s or the EU’s labor market for the position in question. Only then can they hire you and only then can you apply for an AST — Authorisation de Séjour Temporaire (Temporary Residency Authorization). You must apply for an AST before your move to Luxembourg. There are many different AST categories under which you can apply, including salaried worker, highly-qualified worker (EU Blue Card), transferred worker, independent worker, researcher, student, au pair, and several more.

In order to apply for an AST, you need to submit the following documents:

  • a certified copy of your valid passport
  • your birth certificate
  • a copy of your police record
  • your curriculum vitae
  • certified copies of your diplomas and other professional qualifications, with official translations if necessary
  • an employment contract dated and signed both by you and your employer. (The contract must conform to Luxembourg labor law.)
  • a letter of motivation (explanatory letter) to support your application
  • the original recent certificate issued by Agence pour le Développement de l’Emploi, which confirms that your employer has approval to offer a foreigner the position

After you have received a positive response, it is time to get ready for your move to Luxembourg.

Formalities after Your Arrival

EU/EEA citizens and Swiss nationals need, as previously mentioned, only make an Attestation d’Enregistrement (Registration Attestation). Third-country nationals, however, are not completely done with the red tape yet. Within three days of your arrival, you need to visit the authorities of your municipality, the so-called Administration Communale, to make a Déclaration d’Arrivée (declaration of arrival). Do not forget to bring your AST along. You should receive a copy of your declaration which, together with your AST, provides proof of legal residence until the official permit for an employed worker is issued.

From that point on, you have 90 days to apply for your Titre de Séjour (residence permit) for a salaried employee. During this time you should undergo a medical examination by a Luxembourg doctor and report to the Ligue Médico-Sociale for a tuberculosis test; the results will be sent to the Direction de l’Immigration (Immigration Directorate), to which you should submit the following documents:

  • an application form for a residence permit
  • a certified copy of your passport
  • a certified copy of your AST
  • a certified copy of your arrival declaration
  • proof of suitable housing, e.g. a rental contract
  • proof of payment of the 50 EUR fee

Once the Immigration Directorate has received and processed both your application and medical results, you are sent a letter inviting you to present yourself personally; you must take your passport and a biometric photograph with you. Your fingerprints and the biometric photograph are stored and integrated into your residence permit, which you can usually pick up a few days later. After you’ve picked up your residence permit, you need to return to your municipal authority to receive a Certificat de Residence (Certificate of Residency).

Your residence permit is valid for one year. It can, however, be extended for the duration of two years on your first and for the duration of three years on your second renewal — just make sure you renew your visa at least two months before it expires!

Transportation and Safety in Luxembourg

Traveling to Luxembourg: Lower Gas Prices and Good Connections

Luxembourg Airport is located about six kilometers east of Luxembourg City. The country’s own airline, Luxair, and several European airlines offer direct flights between destinations in Europe, North Africa, and some islands off the coast of West Africa, such as the Canary Islands.

If you would rather keep your feet firmly on the ground, the country is easy to reach by car as well. Major roads run from Paris, Brussels, or Trier in Germany to Luxembourg. Try to wait before filling up your fuel tank until you get to Luxembourg, as gas prices are lower here than in many other European countries.

International bus services, operated by Eurolines, offer connections to major European cities at reasonable prices. Smaller operators also have routes between Luxembourg and their home country, e.g. Meinfernbus.de operates between Luxembourg and Germany under the name deLux express.

Luxembourg is also easy to reach by train. Services include high-speed trains that link Luxembourg to Basel (Switzerland), Brussels (Belgium), Koblenz (Germany), and Paris (France); night-trains operate to and from the south of France; and, many other direct and indirect connections ensure Luxembourg is well connected to the rest of Europe.

Whatever the Means Used, Getting Around Is Easy and Convenient

On its own, the regional trains in Luxembourg might seem a bit limited if you want to visit smaller towns, but in combination with its buses the network is extensive. So, wherever you are, it shouldn’t be much trouble to explore your new home! There is no need to worry about comfort, as Luxembourg’s buses are better than most. Like the train system, buses are operated by the Société Nationale des Chemins de Fer Luxembourgeois and fall under the same simple fare system encompassing the entire country. A short-trip ticket, good for two hours, costs 2 EUR, while an unlimited day ticket costs 4 EUR. The latter allows you to travel on buses and trains throughout the country until 04:00 the following day.

Of course, you may still rent or buy your own car to get around Luxembourg and explore neighboring countries. Road rules are easy to understand due to the standard international signs. You should, however, make sure to abide by certain rules like the blood-alcohol limit, which is 0.08%, and the speed limit of 130 km/h on highways.

Another transport alternative is to explore Luxembourg by bike. Luxembourg has an extensive national network of bicycle paths. Trails range from easy to difficult, so there is something for everyone from families with children to athletic mountain-bikers.

Luxembourg Is Very Safe, but Look Out during Schueberfouer!

As is the case whenever you spend your time abroad, it is important to use common sense and pay attention to your surroundings. That being said, Luxembourg is rather safe and has a moderately low crime rate in comparison to other European cities. Most crimes occur in Luxembourg City and are non-violent, including theft, purse-snatching, and pick-pocketing. The latter is mostly a problem at the airport, at train terminals, on buses, and in public areas. Petty crime is also a huge problem during Schueberfouer, an annual three-week event in summer. Also, after the Paris and Brussels terrorist attacks, there is a higher terrorist threat in Europe, and Luxembourg could also be targeted. Police officers are professional and many speak English. If you become a victim of crime, contact them immediately either in person or by calling 113 in an emergency.

InterNations GO!
by InterNations GO!
13 December 2017
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