Here’s a short, handy list of things to do before and when you arrive in Brussels. For precise, comprehensive information, we can only advise you to read and order “Expats in Brussels” the FREE practical guide to settling and living in Brussels! Don’t hesitate to subscribe to our newsletters and join us on facebook. We’ve been expats ourselves and are able to help if kindly asked ;-)
Visa requirements will depend on your nationality, the duration of your stay (more or less than 3 months) and the reason of your stay. Good to know: Short stay visas are usually Schengen visas, which allow the holder to travel freely within the Schengen countries for a maximum stay of up to 90 days in a 6 month period. To enquire about visa requirements, contact the Belgian consulate/embassy in your region.
Nationals of a member state of the European Economic Area (the European Union plus Iceland, Norway and Liechtenstein) and Switzerland do not require a work permit. Some categories of workers are also exempted from the obligation to require a work permit Under specific conditions. The exemption from the work permit obligation does not apply to new member states of the European Union (Bulgaria and Romania). The Cellule Permis de Travail (work permits unit) of the Ministry of the Brussels-Capital Region (MRBC) is the official body responsible for the grant of work permits in the Region.
On arrival in Belgium, non-EU nationals AND EU/EEA nationals intending to stay in Belgium for more than three months must register in person at their local town hall (maison communale/gemeentehuis) within eight working days. Non-EU nationals will need to show their long-stay visa. All people over the age of 12 and resident in Belgium are issued electronic residency/identity cards in Belgium. Once resident in Belgium, foreigners may travel within the Shengen area.
Register, contact or simply visit the website of your national embassy / consulate in Belgium. Embassies and consulates usually provide a lot of useful information on settling in Belgium.
If you have children, enquire about schools and their location BEFORE you find a home. Brussels is ranked as one of Europ’s top trafic jam capitals, so transportation options between your childrens’ school, your office and your home are a real issue.
Get a phone number. You don’t have to choose your network operator right away. Most operators propose top-up cards which can be converted (or not) into subscriptions later on. Wen you subscribe for television, internet and land line phone, you will be proposed advantageous packs which may include mobile telephony. The major network operators propose the following top-up cards : Pay&Go (Proximus), Tempo (Mobistar), BASE Pre-Paid (BASE).
Work and Money
Open a bank account. Many banks ask for the document attesting that you have applied for a resident card before they allow you to open a bank account. If you already have your resident card, you can very easily open a bank account online at one of the country’s major banks.
Find a home ! Property hunters and relocations agencies will do a great job in helping you find the home that fits your needs. If you want to go solo, the most popular website for house and appartment rentals is IMMOWEB. It includes plenty of handy information on moving, insurance etc… A small tip : don’t forget to reserve parking space in front of your future home for the moving truck. This should be done a few days in advance via your local town hall (maison communale).
Organise everyday life : enquire on public transportation (Villo subscription for public bikes, Cambio for shared cars, Mobib for metro, trams and buses…), healthcare and doctors, sports & leisure, language classes, domestic help, supermarkets, and last but not least : where to go to make friends !
And finally, our list of most useful links and contacts for a good start in Brussels :