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September 21, 2022

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:

Education
Employment
Family Reunion
Business Owners
Refugee & Asylum seekers

Education

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.

Employment

When moving to Belgium for work, first you must obtain a work permit, which is issued through the employer. To do this, he must first offer a job to local residents, then citizens of other EU countries. If within a month the desired employee is not found, the work is offered to foreigners.

After receiving a work permit, you will require to apply for a Belgium work visa which will allow you to enter the country. The B-type, C-type and Au Pair category visas are issued for no longer than 12 months and must be renewed. The A-type visa allows a foreigner to work in Belgium indefinitely for any profession.

Family Reunion

If you are moving to Belgium by marrying a Belgian citizen or a PR holder, you must apply for a C-type visa to enter the country. After the registration of marriage, the non-Belgium spouse can apply for a Belgian residence card. A non-Belgian spouse will be eligible to apply for a permanent residency within the next 3-5 years, after which citizenship.

To move to Belgium through family reunification is problematic but possible. The easiest way to do this is for the closest relatives of Belgian citizens. Their children and parents will be able to move to Belgium if the person inviting them is able to prove that they have the legal means to support their relatives and the home where they will live.

Business Owners

By opening your own company, you can get a long-term visa and later a residence permit. The main conditions for opening a company in Belgium are the creation of jobs for Belgian citizens, as well as the full payment of all taxes, the amount of which sometimes reaches 30%.

Formally, the amount of investment required is not set, but you have to count on about 200 thousand euros. In addition, it is necessary to hire a manager from among people with an EU passport.

Refugee & Asylum seekers

Refugee status is the most popular means of living in Belgium. In this case, you simply have to provide a history of oppression in your own country and your motivations for coming here. If your refugee status is proven, you will be given a room and an allowance of 450 euros.

First Steps upon arrival in Belgium

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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

Income in Belgium
Taxation System
Cost of Living

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.

Taxes in Belgium are pretty high - on average 35-40% of earnings. Thus, employers also offer fringe benefits. It includes all sorts of bonuses, benefits and compensation.

Income tax is calculated according to a progressive system:

  • Income lower than €13,870 - 25%
  • Income from €13,871 to €24,480 - 40%
  • Income from €24,581 to €42,370- 45%
  • Income above €42,371 - 50%

Moving to Belgium as a single person, your monthly expenses would be €830 without rent. A family of 4 can expect to spend on average about €3,000 per month without rent. After taxes, the biggest expense is rent. The average price for a 1-bedroom apartment varies from €650-€800 and for a 3-bedroom apartment €950 - €1,160 per month.

Renting vs. Housing in Belgium

Renting

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:

  1. Short-term - for one to three years. If not terminated, it is automatically renewed
  2. 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.

Housing

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.

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