What is working off the books?

Working off the books is working as a non-Belgium in Belgium, without permission to work in Belgium. If you’re not Belgian, and not a citizen of an EU member state, you must be given permission by the government to work here. There are some foreigners who don’t need this permission. For all others – and certainly if you come from a country outside of the European Union – you must obtain permission. If a person has no residence card, they cannot obtain this permission. If you work without this permission, you are working ‘illegally’. Your employer may be penalised. Work off the books is almost never registered with the government by the employer. If you are working, even though you have no legal residence, you’re probably working off the books.

Important: Sometimes the fact that you work as an employee – even though you have no legal residence – will still be declared to social security. That happens to both employees and self-employed persons. In this case, you are entitled to child allowance, to join a health insurance fund and even a pension. You cannot receive unemployment benefits and as long as you have no residence card, you may still be deported if there is an inspection. In this case, you are working officially, but still off the books.