As Belgium is part of the Schengen visa area, travelers who don’t have an EU passport or one from a list of visa-exempt countries will be required to obtain a Schengen visa before arrival. Expats wanting to stay in Belgium for longer than 90 days may require a residence permit, depending on their nationality.

Those travelling to Belgium for holiday or business and who need to apply for a Schengen visa will need to do so at the Belgian consulate or embassy in their home country before they travel. In some cases, applicants may be asked to provide additional documents at the discretion of the Belgian embassy or consulate. It's common for an applicant to be asked for proof of employment and proof of residence in their home country as an indicator that they will return home after their trip.

Expats wanting to travel to Belgium for business purposes will likely have to include a letter of invitation from the Belgian business party who will be hosting them and a letter from their local employer stating their duties in Belgium. Those attending a conference may require proof of registration and accommodation.

Anyone intending to stay in Belgium for the long term is required to report their presence in the country to their local commune (local authority) within 10 working days of their arrival. These new arrivals will usually need to produce their passport or identity card and will then be issued with a Declaration of Presence. 

Citizens of non-EU countries who wish to stay in Belgium for more than 90 days will need to arrange a residence visa before arriving. Non-EU nationals also need to register their presence at their local commune and should obtain a foreigner identity card after moving into a permanent residence. Non-EU expats moving to the country for employment will most likely also need a work permit for Belgium.

residence visa

Citizens of the European Union (EU) or European Economic Area (EEA) don’t usually require a work permit for Belgium. European citizens working in Belgium must have a full EU or EEA passport or identity card. These nationals are free to enter Belgium for up to three months to look for work or set up a business. Those staying for a period of more than three months are required to register at the local town hall in their city of residence in Belgium.

Non-European nationals will need a work permit to be legally employed in the country. It is usually the responsibility of the expat’s Belgian employer to receive authorisation to hire a foreign worker and apply for a work permit on their behalf.

Expats who require a work permit for Belgium will have three options.

Work permit type A is a long-term permit for expats who have legally worked in the country for four consecutive years.
Work permit type B, which most expats moving to Belgium will require, is limited to work for one employer for a period of one year. Renewals must be applied for one month before the initial permit expires.
Work permit type C, also valid for a year, is usually granted to expats staying in Belgium temporarily, such as students wanting to work during the holidays and refugees.
Once their employment has been authorised by the relevant authorities, the expat employee can then apply for a Schengen Type D visa which enables them to enter the country and stay temporarily. While some other types of Schengen visas can be used to enter other Schengen countries as well as the country of application, the D visa is generally limited to one country. This visa must be applied for at a Belgian embassy or consulate in the expat’s home country.