Whether you are allowed to work in Belgium and which conditions apply depends on your nationality and right to reside in Belgium.
Are you an EU citizen and do you want to work for more than three months in Belgium?
If you want to work for more than three months in Belgium, you need to take the following steps:
- You should register with the municipality within three months of arriving in Belgium.
- You must prove that you are Swiss, an EU or EEA citizen (the best way is with a passport or identity card).
- The municipality is obliged to issue you with an ‘Annex 19 Declaration of Registration’ the same day and to register you in the waiting register at the address you provide.
- The municipality will tick the reason for your residence on the Annex 19: for example, as an employee (only if you have a signed contract with your employer), as self-employed (only if you already have the necessary documents to prove self-employed activity), as a job seeker, a student, an economically non-active citizen with their own means of livelihood…
Important: once your Annex 19 has been issued, the municipality will ask the community police officer to verify you live at the address you have provided. Only once the community police officer has confirmed that you live at the address, will you be registered in the foreign national register. In order to make the community police officer’s job easier and to ensure quick registration, it is important that you display your full name clearly under your doorbell and on your letterbox.
Important: from the moment your ‘Annex 19 – Declaration of Registration’ has been issued, you have three months to provide the supporting documents. Which supporting documents you must provide depends on the reason cited for your stay in Belgium. If you already have the supporting documents, please hand these over at the same time as you apply for an Annex 19.
Which supporting documents do you need to provide?
An employment contract. This contract must be for a minimum of 12 hours a week and must be a contract which shows that you will work for this employer for longer than three months (this may be indicated by an employer’s declaration – Annexe 19bis) If the employment period is less than 3 months, the municipality will not issue you with a residence card but they will give you an Annexe 3ter. This gives you the right to remain in Belgium for 3 months. You cannot renew an Annexe 3ter If you work with temporary contracts, you will only be issued with a residence card E if you can provide three months’ worth of payslips and if the payslips show that you have worked at least 12 hours a week. For the duration of those three months, you will only have the Annexe 19.
Registration with the VDAB (Flanders), Actiris (Brussels) or Forem (Wallonia) or copies of application letters and proof you have a realistic chance of finding work (a CV listing your skills and education, for example, copies of diplomas, certificates obtained, language lessons etc.).
You can register as a job seeker with employment services (VDAB, Actiris, Forem) even without an Annexe 19. However, if you want them to actively help you, they may first ask you to have an Annexe 19.
Registration with the Kruispuntbank (Central Database for Enterprises) with an enterprise identification number and membership of a social insurance fund for self-employed persons. Depending on the status in which you work as a self-employed person, additional documentary evidence may be requested. Ask your municipality about this.
The Immigration Authority will assess each case on its merits. Since there is no amount specified in law this is not allowed under European regulations. You must prove that you will not be a financial burden to the Belgian government. Take as an indication the living wage: if your income is higher than this, you will not be eligible for social assistance. However, if your income is lower than the living wage, your application may still not be automatically refused. The Immigration Authority needs to examine your personal situation and take all your income into account, such as: a disability allowance, early pension, compensation for help for the elderly, accident at work or occupational illness allowances, etc. The latter must always be accompanied by proof of health insurance.
Registration with an organised, certified or subsidised education institute and health insurance and a sworn declaration that you have sufficient financial means to cover your livelihood.If you are an EU, EER or Swiss student, you may also work: there are no regulations about the maximum number of hours a week. However, your main occupation must be that of a student. If you work too many hours, you will assume the status of employee, This is a more favourable status.
What happens if after three months you still cannot provide the necessary documents?
If you have not handed over the supporting documents, the municipality will issue you with an ‘Annex 20 – Decision to refuse residency for longer than three months. This document gives you an extra month in which to collect all the supporting documents. In practice, this means you have four months to prove that you meet the conditions for residence.
If you do not succeed in this, you will be issued once more with an Annex 20, but this time with an instruction to leave the territory. You will then have to leave Belgium, however you can always return and start this procedure anew. You can also appeal the decision, in which case you will not have to leave the country. During your appeals procedure, you will be issued with an Annex 35. If you hand in your supporting documents just after the four months have passed, the municipality may issue you with an Annex 19, which means you will not have to leave the country.
What happens if you have the necessary supporting documents within the four months?
If you do provide the municipality with the necessary documents on time (within the first four months of your Annex 19 being issued), and if those documents are checked and approved, the municipality will issue you with an ‘Annex 8 – Declaration of Registration‘or an electronic E-card. Both documents give you the same rights. You will receive the Annex 8 or electronic E-card no later than six months after the date you handed in the supporting documents mentioned on your Annex 19. The E-card is valid for five years and will be renewed through a simple application. You now have everything you need.