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Relocating to Flanders is easy as 1-2-3

Are you thinking of coming to live and work in Flanders? Who wouldn’t! Flanders’ high standard of living at an affordable cost, along with its rich culture and excellent healthcare and educational systems, have made the region a popular expat destination.

To top it all off, relocating to Belgium (Flanders) is much simpler than virtually anywhere else in Europe.

The most attractive region for highly-skilled expats

Belgium, and Flanders as a region, has the most effective migration policy for attracting highly-skilled workers from outside of the EU. That is the conclusion of consultancy firm Deloitte’s 2016 Comparative Immigration Study. In short, the speed, low cost and accessible conditions for obtaining a work permit are the main reasons for the study’s findings.

How to relocate to Flanders in just 3 steps

Step 1 – Get your work permit: it’s fast and easy

From request to delivery, a Belgian work permit can be obtained in an average of 6 weeks (versus up to 15 weeks in other European countries). Belgian work permits are valid for 12 months but can easily be extended.

While you’ll mostly need a work permit to live and work in Flanders, some categories of employees – such as European Economic Area (EEA) nationals – are exempt from this general rule. In general, obtaining a Belgian work permit depends on:

  1. your nationality and country of residence;
  2. the length of your stay in Belgium;
  3. your professional status in Belgium (employee or self-employed).

Work permits for employees

Can’t wait to come work in Flanders? Note that your future local employer has to make the formal request to employ a foreign citizen and obtain a work permit for you. In other words, your work permit will be linked to a specific job at one specific employer.

In general, your future employer has to prove that it is impossible to find a suitable candidate on the local job market – unless you’re highly-educated or managerial staff, that is. In that case, you only have to:

  • fulfill the minimum salary requirement (a gross annual salary of EUR 39,824);
  • be able to present your authenticated degrees and/or certificates.

Work permits for the self-employed

Do you wish to reside in Belgium (Flanders) to carry out a lucrative independent trade or profession, and you are not a citizen of a European Union member state, Iceland, Norway or Liechtenstein? Then you should file for a professional card:

  • either with the Belgian diplomatic or consular post in your country of last residence;
  • or with the local authorities of your town of residence if you’re already legally residing in Belgium. 

Step 2 – Apply for a type D visa

Do you have your work permit or professional card? Fantastic! Now you’ll need to: for a type D visa in

  • apply for a type D visa in your place of residence abroad;
  • obtain your Belgian Electronic ID card, once you arrive back in Belgium (Flanders). Report to the city authorities in your place of residence in Belgium. They will register you as a legal foreigner in the municipality.

Step 3 – Register on the social security system via LIMOSA

The final thing to do before you can kick off your new career in Flanders is to register on LIMOSA – the central electronic database of the Belgian social security system. Have a nice work day!

Find out for yourself why life in Flanders is great

Once you’ve gotten past the formalities of getting your work and residence permits, you’ll find that life doesn’t get any better than it does in Flanders. 

Interested in doing business in Flanders?

Let us help you!

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  • We organize site visits to real estate locations
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  • We're an official government agency
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  • Discover the benefits of Flanders (in addition to the chocolate).