When it comes to Belgium, a lot of people immediately think of Brussels and the EU institutions located there. Are you thinking of emigrating to Belgium? Then you should first take a look at our information about living and working there.
Entering and staying
As a citizen of an EU country, you do not need a visa or residence permit to enter Belgium. However, you have to register with the local government to be entered into the foreigner registry. If you want to stay longer than three months, you have to apply for a residence permit with the local municipal administration. At the same time, you will receive a so-called registry number with which you register with the pensions office.
Belgium is divided into three regions: Wallonia, the French-speaking part; Flanders, the Dutch-speaking part, and Brussels. Brussels, the capital with more than one million inhabitants, is a city-state.
There are two languages spoken in Belgium: Dutch and French. About 60% of the inhabitants speak Dutch; the remaining 40% speak French. English is understood everywhere too, however, especially in Brussels, where many people with different language backgrounds work. Fluency of speaking is therefore a decisive factor. Many college graduates speak four languages. So make sure you speak the various languages that are important in the country.
Belgium has a rather high unemployment rate of 5.6% (as of June 2019), which has, however, been decreasing for years. For foreign employees, however, there are ample opportunities to find a job. Many international companies have subsidiaries in Belgium and hire employees to represent their interests in the EU. The European institutions also offer numerous opportunities to find a job. But employees are also being sought outside of this field of activity. Important sectors include the logistics sector, tourism, the chemical industry, the metal industry and the automotive industry. In the Wallonian part of the country, you can achieve a lot with an unsolicited application; in Flanders you can most easily find a job with a temp agency.
Aspects regarding labour laws
In Belgium, people work an average of 37 to 38 hours a week. The normal working time may not exceed eight hours a day and 39 hours a week. Should overtime be accrued, it has to be compensated with time off or higher pay. In the first year of a job, there is no legal claim to paid vacation. After the first year, 20 days are legally mandated. In addition, there are ten legal holidays each year.