To enter Belgium, you need valid travel documents. For most non-Belgians that is a passport and a visa. 

With valid travel documents, you can stay in the country as a visitor for a maximum of three months.  If you intend to stay longer, you need to register with the local authorities. 

Are you a nationals of the European Union, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway or Switzerland?

If so, you can simply register at the town hall of the commune and receive a residence permit (comparable to an identity card).

As a temporary measure, Croatian nationals must obtain a work permit until 30 June 2015.

If not, you need a work permit first

For other nationalities, a residence permit will only be delivered if you have a work permit

  • If you are coming to work for a Belgian employer, your employer must obtain a work permit (arbeidskaart / permis de travail).  He must file an application with the Flemish, Brussels or Walloon regional Authorities depending on where you are going to work.  

    In practice, the work permit is only granted for positions that cannot be filled - within a reasonable period of time on the Belgian market who qualify for the job, possibly after a training period. This means work permits are usually for highly qualified employees only (the salary is usually an indication). More information on the following websites for BrusselsFlanders or Wallonia.

    The work permit will be delivered to the employer.
  • If you are coming to work as a self employed, the work permit you need is called a professional card (beroepskaart / carte professionnelle),

    The application for a professional card must be filed via the Belgian embassy or consulate.  The application cannot be filed from Belgium, unless you have a valid residence permit (e.g. obtained as an employee). 

    This procedure is actually quite long and requires a administrative investigation.  

    More information is available here.

Once you have the authorisation to work in Belgium, you have to apply for a residence permit (verblijfsvergunning / permis de séjour) via the local Belgian embassy or consulate.  The application must be filed with two passport photos, a health certificate and a certificate of good moral behaviour.  The spouse and dependent children under the age of 18, can come and live in Belgium under the same residence permit.  More  information can be found here.

When arriving in Belgium, you have to register with the local authorities of the town.  Please note that this registration triggers the presumption that you become a resident for income tax purposes.

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