Working in Belgium

The end of the Brexit transition period (31 December 2020) brought an end to the right to free movement of labour for UK citizens. UK citizens can no longer freely move to EU countries for work and must respect the local immigration rules applicable to non-EU citizens. In practice, this means that any professional activities you conduct when traveling to or living in the EU must comply with the applicable immigration requirements of the country where the activities take place.

If you do not hold a valid M-card or Annex 56 (which proves you applied for the status) and wish to work in Belgium, you will fall into one of three categories depending on the scope of your activities:

  1. Business travel
  2. Frontier workers
  3. Residing and working in Belgium

Business Travel

You are allowed to enter Belgium and other Schengen area countries without a visa for a period of up to 90 days within a 180-day period. The 90 days count down from the day you enter the Schengen area until the day you depart. You can use the short-stay visa calculator to calculate your days in the Schengen area. All days spent in the Schengen area, irrespective of the purpose of the trip (including tourism, family reasons, and business visits), count towards the 90-day limit.

As a business visitor, you are allowed to perform a limited number of business activities without needing prior work authorisation. These allowable business visitor activities include:

  • Attending meetings, conferences, or fair trades to promote your company or its products or services
  • Travelling for business establishment proposes
  • Carrying out research or analysis as a market researchers and analysts
  • Receiving training in techniques and work practices
  • Negotiating sales, concluding sales agreements of services or goods, and purchasing services for an enterprise
  • Providing after-sales or after-lease service
  • Engaging in tourism services
  • Supporting services as translator or interpreter
  • Undertaking temporary assignments as a journalist
  • Conducting training at the Belgian location of a multinational group to which your employer belongs

Depending on the nature and the length of the activities, you may need to comply with certain local labour law requirements such as submitting a Posted Worker Notification (Limosa).

Even if you engage in only allowable business visitor activities you may still require work authorisation if any of the following factors apply:

  • Being placed on a Belgian company's payroll
  • Receiving remuneration from a Belgian company
  • Signing an employment contract or otherwise establishing an employment relationship with a Belgian company
  • Making frequent, repeated business trips to Belgium

If you do not meet any of the categories above or the scope of the activities you will be conducting in Belgium is broader than allowed under business travel, you will require a work permit.

Frontier Workers

UK citizens who were frontier workers in Belgium prior to the end of the transition period (31 December 2020) were able to safeguard their rights in Belgium by applying for an N-card. An N-card does not give you residence rights in Belgium but ensures you can commute between Belgium and the United Kingdom and work in Belgium without a separate work authorisation.

If you do not hold an N-card or Annex 57 (which proves you applied for the N-card) but wish to commute between the United Kingdom and Belgium for work, you can apply for a specific frontier worker work permit. For detailed information please see this page.

Residing and Working in Belgium

If you do not hold a valid M-card or Annex 56 (which proves you applied for the M-card) and wish to work and reside in Belgium, you must apply for and obtain a work and residence authorisation following the rules generally applicable to non-EU nationals. For detailed information please see this page.

Recognition of academic or professional qualifications

Besides immigration considerations, you should also verify whether you need to obtain:

  • Recognition of your academic qualifications. This is generally required in the public sector or in a publicly funded institution, and for regulated professions (e.g. health care, education, legal professions, accountants).
  • Recognition of your professional qualifications. This is required for certain regulated professions. Specific requirements and processes exist per profession or sector.

For more information, please consult the information website of the Belgian government or websites of the relevant authorities: