Belgium is a country at the heart of Europe that has a lot to offer to expats. In fact, the country’s multiculturalism is the main attraction point for EU and non-EU immigrants who are willing to relocate here. As a UK national, you will not require a visa to enter Belgium (for the time being), however, you will need to apply for a correct residence permit, according to the reason for your long-term stay. In order to immigrate to Belgium from UK, one starts by applying for the right type of permit with the Belgian Embassy or Consulate that is closest to home.
|Visa requirement to enter Belgium
No, for short-term stays of up to 90 days in any 180-day period
|Types of temporary residence permits for those who relocate from UK to Belgium
|Employee, self-employed, person of means, student, trainee, family reunification
Documents for temporary residence permits
|The filled-in application form, a valid travel document, recent photographs, medical certificate, visa documents (employment agreement, proof of family ties, proof of acceptance to study in Belgium, etc.)
|Approximate time needed to obtain a temporary stay permit
3 – 6 weeks
|Residence permits for investors in Belgium
|There is no dedicated residence permit targeting investors. Entrepreneurs apply for the Visa D
(for temporary residence)
1 year for most types of permits, subject to subsequent extensions for those who wish to relocate
|Post-arrival registration with the Belgian authorities
Mandatory, usually within 8 working days of arrival. The registration is submitted to the population department in the municipality of residence
|US permit holder can bring dependents to Belgium
|Facilities for UK nationals married to a Belgian citizen
|No specific time reductions for obtaining citizenship. A minimum cohabitation period is applicable
|Minimum lawful stay before applying for permanent residence
|Minimum time in the country before applying for citizenship
|Naturalization requirements for those who relocate from UK to Belgium
|Lawful stay in Belgium for the minimum period of 5 years, ongoing registration with the population register, proven knowledge of one of the national languages, proof of social integration and contribution to the country’s economy
|UK pension available
|Yes, one can still receive UK State Pension when living or retiring abroad. Conditions apply
| UK national taxation
|Tax for income derived from UK sources (if the UK citizen still earns income from the UK) and taxation as per the Belgian regulations for the Belgium-derived income (for example, Belgium employment income)
An agreement for the avoidance of double taxation is in place between the UK and Belgium
Under the Withdrawal Agreement, which outlines the process of leaving the EU, a transition period was in place until the end of 2020. UK nationals who are interested in moving to Belgium can still do so, however, now they will need to apply for residency according to the purpose of their stay. Our team of lawyers specializing in immigration matters can provide more details as further clarifications on this matter arise.
There are many questions about the process of Belgium immigration and our agents answer some of these in this article. For more detailed information, please keep in mind that you can reach out to our specialists.
Table of Contents
What are the types of residence permits in Belgium?
The right of residence is granted according to the purpose of the stay. The following status can be obtained:
- Employee: when the UK national has already signed an employment contract with a Belgian company or is subject to an intra-corporate transfer;
- Job seeker: when the job is not yet secured and he or she can provide evidence of the application letters;
- Self-employed: when the individual is engaged in a form of profession or service as self-employed and registered with the Crossroads Bank for Enterprises;
- Student: when he or she is admitted into a Belgian University; a separate permit can also be awarded for trainees;
- Family member: when the UK national is willing to reunite with a family member who is already lawfully living in Belgium; our Belgium immigration lawyer can provide you with more details on family reunification.
Please keep in mind that a provisional registration is commenced with the municipality and police controls are not uncommon for the purpose of residency control.
The types of Belgium residence permits described above are temporary ones and they can be renewed. For the purpose of relocation from UK to Belgium, a British national will need to apply for permanent residence after an uninterrupted stay of five years in the country.
Obtaining Belgian nationality, or citizenship in Belgium, can be an important goal for UK citizens who relocate to this EU Member State. A main condition is to have lawfully lived in the country for 5 years uninterruptedly, or 3 years if married to a Belgian national. Additionally, one will also need to provide other documents, as well as proof of satisfactory language knowledge.
An alternative is to obtain Belgium residency by investment, however, this is subject to a set of rules and conditions. British nationals can reach out to our agents to find out if this is a suitable option for them.
What are the post-arrival residency requirements?
British nationals who wish to reside in Belgium will need to register with the local town hall as soon as they arrive in the country (commonly within eight days, however, this may vary and our Belgium immigration specialists can provide you with more details). Upon registration, one is asked to provide specific documents, such as photographs, passport copies, proof of accommodation, and others.
Some of the other issues that will need to be addressed after arrival are the following:
- Healthcare: registering with a healthcare insurer is mandatory in order to be able to access the healthcare system; social security contributions apply to both the employer and the employee;
- Driving: a UK national will need to exchange his license and renew it.
- Vehicles: vehicle insurance will be required and UK nationals can also take out their vehicle from the United Kingdom and register it with the Belgian authorities (this is a process that can be further explained by our Belgium immigration specialists).
- Taxation: a double taxation agreement exists between the United Kingdom and Belgium, meaning that the same type of income will not be taxed in the same manner; tax compliance for personal income and corporate income purposes (for those who open a business) will be mandatory.
These are just some of the aspects that need to be taken into consideration when relocating from UK to Belgium. For those who move with their families, finding a suitable school and enrolling the children will also be an important step.
Living in Belgium
Foreign nationals who relocate from UK to Belgium may also need to have their professional qualifications recognised if they relocate here in order to work or engage in their specific activities as a sole trader.
Our team reminds professionals of the following key issues to consider, especially if they will be residing in the country based on a residence permit for Belgium issued for work purposes in regulated professions:
- UK nationals who have acquired their professional qualifications in the United Kingdom prior to 31 December 2020 are permitted to have these recognized in Belgium, as well as other EU Member States under the “grandfathered rights” which continue to apply post-Brexit;
- UK citizens who have obtained their qualifications after the end of the Brexit transition period will need to have their professional qualifications recognised under Belgian law through a submission with a competent department or authority in their Community;
- Please keep in mind that the region in which you relocate can impose specific conditions or requirements; finding out more about the rules in the Flemish community, the Walloon one, or the Brussels-Capital region is easier with the help of our Belgian immigration specialists.
UK professionals may benefit from different rules for having their qualifications recognised once the UK signs mutual recognition agreements with other countries, including Belgium. Until this takes place, if you are interested in moving to Belgium and working here based on the qualifications you already have, our team will answer your questions.
Parents who relocate with their children may also be entitled to receive child benefits. This is done via a special application, and it is available in all three regions, however, the name of the benefit differs across these regions and local authorities may impose additional requirements.
An example of a special type of allowance for children offered in Belgium is the Toddler Allowance, offered in Flanders, described below by our Belgium immigration lawyer:
- it is a premium of 143,53 euros offered one-time;
- the child needs to be between 3 and 4 years of age;
- the toddler needs to attend a Dutch-speaking school in Flanders or in the Brussels-Capital Region;
- the premium is provided the month following the child’s birthday.
Our Belgium immigration lawyer can give you complete details about the allowances available for children and how you can access these. We are also able to answer questions about taxation in Belgium, and the double taxation agreement signed between the UK and Belgium which allows individuals to be exempted from paying tax on the same income (such as the one from employment or rental income) in both countries.
Our team knows that relocating to a new country is an important step for a family. This is why we are ready to answer important questions about living in Belgium, your key post-arrival steps, as well as any particular issues you may need to address as a Briton living in Belgium.
Foreign nationals in Belgium
If you want to immigrate to Belgium from UK, you should know that Belgium is a multicultural country with three official languages and where English is widely spoken. Foreign nationals may very well choose to apply for Belgian citizenship after some time.
According to StatBel, the country’s official statistical institute, in 2022 the international migration balance (the difference between the number of immigrations and emigrations) was positive, amounting to 116,544 individuals. Other data shows that:
- in 2022 24.6% of the immigrants moving to Belgium were of Ukrainian nationality, given the war in their country of origin;
- a total of 233,629 immigrations to Belgium were recorded in 2022, higher than in previous years; part of this higher number is explained by the war in Ukraine, which displaced a large number of people;
- according to provisional numbers, in August 2023, 4,225 individuals obtained Belgian nationality; the countries of origin for these foreign nationals are Morocco, Syria, Romania, Afghanistan, and Italy;
- international migration remained the main reason for population growth in the country as many foreign nationals chose to relocate to Belgium (thus compensating for the negative natural balance, the difference between the number of births and deaths); this migration ensured the population growth of 113,549 inhabitants (or 0.98%).
Our team of Belgium immigration lawyers can help you along the way if you are interested in relocating. Please contact us if you have questions and are in need of assistance in order to immigrate to Belgium from UK.
If you are not a British citizen but are interested in how you can apply for and obtain a Belgian residence permit, our team will give you information based on your nationality. Submitting all of the needed documents (both the ones that are required in all cases and the ones that are visa-specific) is essential for the favourable processing of your application. Our team can give you the needed details.