All you need to know before moving to Belgium
Belgium is a rare cocktail of castles, Brussel waffles, comic books, finest diamonds and peeing statues. And these are yet not the main reasons why thousands of foreigners from all over the world are moving to Belgium today.
Moving to Belgium can be somewhat challenging due to all the excessive bureaucracy during and after the immigration process. Read our relocation guide to understand better how to move to Belgium and what to expect once you have landed.
How to Immigrate to Belgium
When you move to Belgium, you can apply for a residence permit after 3 years of living in Belgium with a temporary residence permit, and for citizenship after 4 years. Below are the main ways to legally immigrate to Belgium:
Studying in Belgium is more affordable than in other European countries, making it even more appealing for foreign nationals to move to Belgium for education. Students from non-EU countries are required to apply for a Belgium study visa type D to enter the country.
Belgium student visa will be given upon receiving an acceptance letter, proving the sufficiency of funds and obtaining health insurance. Upon finishing the program, graduates have six months to look for a job. In the case of receiving a job offer from a Belgium employer, you will become eligible to obtain a temporary residence permit.
First Steps upon arrival in Belgium
- Register with the Municipal Authorities.
As a foreign citizen planning to stay in Belgium for more than 90 days, you must register with the local authorities within the first 8 days after moving to Belgium. After you have registered, you need to collect your electronic ID card at the town hall.
- Open a Bank Account.
To open a Belgium Bank Account you can visit a branch in person or apply online. You would require to have a passport or an ID card and proof of address. At first, you might be given a temporary debit card and then mailed a permanent one.
- Figure out yourDriving License.
EU nationals can drive in Belgium with the driving license issued by their home countries. It is recommended to register with a local driving license department in case of a loss. Some of the non-EU/EEA citizens, depending on the country of origin, are required to take a driving examination and an international driving permit.
Healthcare in Belgium
The Belgian health care system is not free, each resident must obtain compulsory health insurance. Expats moving to Belgium can access the health care system after registering for social security and obtaining a Belgium ID. The most popular health insurance providers are Partena and Allianz Care. The membership fee to these funds is about 100 € per year.
Ineligible foreigners moving to Belgium and Belgium residents who require more coverage and can apply for private health insurance. Not all services are available with state insurance, and the funds pay about 75% of their cost.
Earning and Spending in Belgium
In 2022, the minimum wage in Belgium is €1,842 per month. The average wage in the country is €3,695 per month before tax. But this figure is slightly inflated at the expense of those who work in the EU institutions.
More common is a salary of around €3,100 per month. In Belgium, almost everyone receives a salary not 12, but 13 times a year.
Renting vs. Housing in Belgium
When you move to Belgium, to rent an apartment, you need a work contract which proves to the landlords that you are solvent. In Belgium, there are two types of lease contracts:
- Short-term - for one to three years. If not terminated, it is automatically renewed
- Long-term. You have to live in the apartment for at least three years. Otherwise, you have to pay the landlord a penalty of up to three monthly payments.
Fortunately for foreigners moving to Belgium, there are no restrictions prohibiting ex-pats to buy accommodation here. When you buy any property in Belgium, you will be required to pay a certain percentage of VAT that will depend on whether it is a new or secondary property.
Both the seller and the buyer must have their own notary that will ensure the transaction is properly completed. In Belgium, when purchasing a property, a foreign citizen can count on a multi-entry visa, which must be confirmed every year.
As in the case of rentals, prices depended on the area. For example, a quiet and family-friendly Ukkel one-bedroom apartment cost about €220,000. The average house price in Belgium varies from €280,000 to €320,000.