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How Is Life in Belgium for Expats?

expatrier-belgique

Summary

Life in Belgium for expats brings a high level of comfort and many cultural options. Plus, the country is close and well communicated with most European capitals. It does not offer the same scenery, sunshine, or exoticism as other more distant destinations.

But moving there brings other types of advantages.

In this article, you will find some tips for living in Belgium as an expat.

Living in Belgium as an Expat: Administrative Procedures

Moving to Belgium, when you are an EU citizen, is a simple formality. The cultural barriers are almost non-existent and the currency is the same.

No visa is required, a simple passport or a valid identity card allows you to enter, move around, settle and work freely in the whole kingdom.

The only compulsory step for a European citizen who moves to Belgium is to register in the foreigners’ register. It has to be done in the office of his or her municipality of residence within three months of arrival.

This registration automatically triggers the obligation to pay taxes on income received in Belgium as soon as one resides more than 6 months per year in the country.

Another formality in Belgium for expats is to sign up in the register of nationals from your country that live abroad. It’s not mandatory, but highly recommended.

It facilitates many procedures related to your country, including:

  • Registering on electoral lists
  • Obtaining school grants
  • Renewal of identity papers.

Jobs in Belgium for Expats

To work during an expatriation in Belgium, it is necessary to have skills in the sectors that recruit the most, namely:

  • Finance
  • Insurance
  • New technologies
  • Real estate
  • Business services
  • Health care
  • Education.

English can be sufficient to find some jobs in Belgium for expats. But having a good command of French and Dutch will be an advantage that can open many more doors.

Belgium for Expats With Children

Life in Belgium for expats with children is not difficult at all. On the contrary: the country offers good quality services that are generally very appreciated by families. However, it is important to take into account the issue of schooling for your kids.

It is possible to use the Belgian school system. The teaching of Dutch is compulsory in the Brussels region and can be replaced by English in Wallonia.

But beware: compared to other European systems, the Belgian might have differences in the number of courses for primary and secondary school. It might be required to go through a level test or a validation process at the moment of registration.

Health Insurance in Belgium for Expats

Belgian social security only covers expatriates who are active in the kingdom. Those who are not working have to prove that they are covered in their country of origin.

Seconded workers remain affiliated to their country’s Social Security system throughout their expatriation.

Affiliation to the local health insurance scheme is compulsory for all employees and self-employed people. They must subscribe to a private mutual insurance scheme, supervised by the INAMI (Belgian health insurance), in addition to their affiliation to Social Security.

There are many different types of health insurance in Belgium for expats, and the employer can provide one. The spouse and children of the insured are automatically added as beneficiaries of the policy.

The quality of care in Belgium is comparable to that in Europe. But it is not fully reimbursed, except for hospitalization in a shared room. In most cases, the insured person contributes 25% of the cost of general medicine and 40% of the cost of specialty procedures.

To move there and benefit from better health coverage, it is advisable to take out an international health insurance policy before your departure. It will cover, at a minimum, routine health care, hospitalization, as well as evacuation and repatriation assistance.

This insurance will cover the beneficiary and his/her dependents anywhere in the world, including their country of origin. This type of coverage can be taken out as a Social Security supplementary policy or in the form of a 1st euro insurance.

The easiest way to find the most suitable contract for each situation is to use an online comparison tool.

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