Belgium Personal Income Tax

Income tax is levied on the worldwide income of Belgian residents and on the Belgian-source income of nonresi­dents.

Residents are individuals who are domiciled in Belgium. Residency status is determined based on the facts and circum­stances. A rebuttable presumption exists that individuals enrolled in the National Register of the Population are resident in Belgium for tax purposes. For married individuals (or individuals offi­cially engaged in a “cohabitant” scenario), an irrefutable pre­sumption exists that the tax domicile is where the spouse or partner and any dependent children live.

Certain foreign executives, specialists and researchers residing temporarily in Belgium are eligible for a special tax regime under which they are treated as nonresidents (see Special expatriate tax concessions).

The income of spouses and registered cohabitants is taxed sepa­rately, even though they are required to file a joint tax return.

Under a fundamental revision of the Belgian tax system, effective from 1 January 2014, the overall tax due is split into a federal base and a regional surcharge. In addition, several pre-existing tax deductions are transferred to the authority of the regions (Brussels, Flemish and Walloon).

Although the regions have not made any changes that signifi­cantly affect the overall liability, consultation with a professional advisor is suggested.

Income subject to tax. Belgian tax law provides for the following four categories of taxable income:

  • Earned income, including employment income, director fees, self-employment income, business income and retirement income
  • Real estate income
  • Investment income, including dividends, interest and royalties
  • Other miscellaneous income

For each category of income the net taxable amount is deter­mined as the gross income received minus a number of deduc­tions specific to the income category. In addition, several deduc­tions and allowances can be set off against the total net taxable income.

The taxation of various categories of income is described below.

Employment income. Employment income includes salaries, wages, bonuses, perquisites and benefits in kind, as well as retire­ment income. Benefits in kind are taxable based on their actual value for the beneficiary. Specific valuation rules are provided for several of the more common benefits, such as company cars, below-market interest loans, free housing and stock options (see Taxation of employer-provided stock options).

Income from employment may be reduced by normal profes­sional expenses, including, among others, the following:

  • 75% of the cost of gasoline for the professional use of a car
  • 75% of most other automobile expenses
  • Commuting expenses up to EUR0.15 per kilometer
  • 69% of restaurant expenses and 50% of other entertainment expenses incurred in Belgium

Instead of claiming a deduction for actual professional expenses, the taxpayer may choose to claim a standard business expense deduction. The maximum standard deduction is EUR4,240 for the 2016 income year (2017 tax year).

Directors’ fees. Directors’ fees are included in total earned in­come. Directors’ fees include income earned by a director as fixed remuneration as well as participation in the profit of the company. Certain benefits derived by a director are also included in the taxable income of the director. Directors’ fees also include amounts paid to in-house self-employed consultants with day-to-day managerial responsibilities of a technical, commercial or fi­nancial nature. A deduction for professional expenses (actual expenses uncapped or standard deduction of 3%, up to EUR2,390 for the 2016 income year) can also be claimed against directors’ fees. To avoid a tax surcharge (1.5% of the tax for the 2016 in­come year), tax prepayments and wage tax withholdings must equal the final tax due.

Self-employment and business income. Self-employment and business income is included in the total earned income. A deduc­tion for actual professional expenses is also available against this income. To avoid a tax surcharge (1.5% of the tax for the 2016 income year) at the time of final assessment by the authorities, tax prepayments must be made.

Real estate income. Real estate income includes rental income from real estate that is used for a professional activity and, in certain circumstances, from real estate used for private purposes by the occupant.

Nonresidents whose Belgian-source income consists only of real estate income are exempt from personal income tax if the annual rental income does not exceed EUR2,500.

Investment income. Under the Belgian domestic tax law, invest­ment income consists of dividends, interest and royalties.

Dividends, interest and royalties are subject to a final withhold­ing tax.

Special expatriate tax concessions. Foreign executives, specialists and researchers residing temporarily in Belgium may qualify for a special tax regime when they are assigned, transferred or recruited from outside Belgium to work for a Belgian operation of an international group of companies. The special expatriate status is obtained through a written application to the Belgian tax authorities that sets forth the reasons why the relevant employee should qualify. The application is filed jointly by the employee and the employer. It must be filed within six months after the beginning of the month following the month of arrival of the employee in Belgium.

Foreign executives, specialists and researchers qualifying under the special expatriate tax regime are treated as nonresidents for purposes of the Belgian tax law. As a result, they are taxed on Belgian-source income only. Accordingly, unearned income and real estate income arising outside of Belgium are ignored in the determination of Belgian taxable income.

Qualifying individuals are taxed only on employment income or directors’ fees relating to professional activities performed in Belgium. Unless other reliable criteria are available, the amount of remuneration excluded from taxation in Belgium can be calcu­lated as the fraction of the total worldwide remuneration that corresponds to the number of workdays performed outside Belgium compared to the total workdays performed (the travel exclusion). Special rules apply to the calculation of the exclu­sion. No maximum or minimum travel percentage is required to qualify for the special regime.

Certain allowances paid to the employee as a result of his or her temporary stay in Belgium are treated as deductible expenses for the employer and are non-taxable to the employee, within certain limits. An overall annual limit of EUR11,250 applies for qualify­ing expatriates working for regular operating companies. For qualify ing expatriates employed by recognized headquarters, coordination offices, and research centers, an increased limit of EUR29,750 applies. The following are the most common recur­ring allowances:

  • Cost-of-living allowance
  • Housing differential
  • Home leave
  • Income tax

The tax-free allowances can be determined based on either the actual allowances granted by the employer (if these are based on recognized tables) or on a calculation method provided by the Belgian tax authorities (if no specific allowances are paid by the employer).

Expatriates are also allowed to exclude from taxable compensa­tion the reimbursement of moving expenses by their employer and the reimbursement of education expenses for international pri­mary and secondary schooling in Belgium and, exceptionally, outside Belgium. These exclusions are not subject to an overall limitation other than that the amounts reimbursed must be rea­sonable. In this context, lump-sum relocation allowances are considered taxable, in most instances, unless they are justified by specific relocation expenses.

Although the concessions are not granted for a fixed time period, the competent tax office has recently issued new guidelines, which set a review of the application after 10 years and 15 years. If the conditions for the regime continue to be met, the regime can be maintained after these reviews for up to a total of 20 years.

Taxation of employer-provided stock options. Effective from 1 Jan­uary 1999, specific rules are included in Belgian domestic law relating to the taxation of stock options granted to employees, directors and other independent persons.

Two applicable tax regimes are provided for stock options.

Stock options offered during the period of 2 November 1998 through 10 November 2002 or offered after 10 November 2002 and accepted within the 60-day period. Options offered on or after 2 November 1998 and before 11 November 2002 are deemed to be granted on the 60th day after the date of the offer, unless the beneficiary has refused the stock options in writing within this 60-day period.

Options offered on or after 11 November 2002 are deemed to be granted on the 60th day following the offer if the beneficiary has given written notice of his or her acceptance of the option before the expiration of the 60-day period. If the option is accepted within the 60-day period, the taxable benefit is determined in the same manner as for the options offered during the period of 2 November 1998 through 10 November 2002.

The benefit in kind arising from such stock options is taxable to the beneficiary on the date of grant on a lump-sum basis, regard­less of whether the exercise of the option is unconditional. Under the lump-sum basis, the taxable income is determined as a per­centage of the value of the underlying shares at the moment of the offer of the options (18%, effective from the 2012 income year). If the exercise price of the option is lower than the value of the underlying shares at the time of the offer, the lump-sum basis is increased by the difference.

In general, only the grant of an option results in a taxable benefit. If that is the case, the employee is exempt from tax on potential ben­efits arising from subsequent possession of the option, including benefits from the exercise or sale of the option or from the sale of the underlying shares. However, the taxation at grant does not apply in all circumstances. If the taxation at grant does not apply, taxation normally occurs at the time of exercise of the stock options.

No social security contributions are required with respect to such options, unless the options are “in the money” (that is, granted at a discount) or if the options are “covered” (that is, the risk that the value of the underlying shares will decline is covered at the time of offer or until the end of the exercise period of the option, therefore granting a guaranteed benefit to the beneficiary of the option).

Stock options offered on or after 11 November 2002 that are not accepted within the 60-day period. Special rules apply to stock options granted on or after 11 November 2002 that are not for­mally accepted within the 60-day period following the date of offer. Such options are taxed at the time of exercise on the differ­ence between the fair market value of the underlying shares at the time of exercise and the exercise price. The benefit is also subject to social security contributions at the time of exercise.

No further taxes are due when the shares are sold.

Capital gains. In general, capital gains on assets that are not used for a professional activity are not taxable. However, exceptions exist for the following types of capital gains:

  • Capital gains derived from speculative activities
  • Capital gains derived from the sale of a Belgian corporation’s shares to a company not resident in the European Economic Area (EEA) if the individual, alone or together with his or her family, directly or indirectly owned more than 25% of the cor­poration’s shares at any time during the five years before the sale
  • Capital gains derived from the sale of land that was acquired by purchase if the sale takes place within five years of acquisition
  • Capital gains derived from the sale of land that was obtained by donation if the land was acquired by the donor within five years before the donation
  • Gains derived from the sale of developed real estate if the prop­erty is sold within any of the following time periods:

— Five years after purchase

— Five years after the start of using a new building if construc­tion began within five years after purchasing the land on which the building stands

— Three years after donation if the donor bought the property within five years before the donation

  • Capital gains derived from the sale of certain intangible rights
  • Capital gains derived from the sale of quoted shares within six months of their acquisition

Deductions, personal allowances and reductions. As mentioned in Who is liable, the Belgian regime of personal allowances, deduc­tions and reductions is revised with a partial transfer to the com­petency of the regions. Because the regions have issued their own modifications, consultation with a professional advisor is highly recommended.

Certain of the deductions, allowances and reductions mentioned below are not available to nonresidents. Consultation with a pro­fessional advisor is necessary.

Deductible expenses. The following are allowable deductions:

  • Deduction for certain alimony payments (limited to 80% of the payments).
  • Investment deduction for new fixed assets (for self-employed persons). For the 2016 income year (2017 tax year), the stan­dard rate of the investment deduction is 3.5%.

Some of the above deductions are not available if the payments are made by or to nonresidents.

Personal allowances. All individuals may deduct personal allow­ances. Additional personal allowances are available for depen­dents. The personal allowances are applied to the lowest tax brackets.

For the 2016 income year (2017 tax year), the standard personal allowance equals EUR8,760 per person.

The following personal allowances for dependent children may be claimed for the 2016 income year (2017 tax year).

Number of children* EUR
1 1,520
2 3,900
3 8,740
4 14,140
Each additional child 5,400

* A handicapped dependent child is considered to be two children.

In general, nonresidents who do not earn at least 75% of their total professional income in Belgium may not deduct any per­sonal allowances.

Tax reductions. Tax reductions are granted either by the federal or regional government for the following:

  • Life insurance premiums
  • Personal contributions to group insurance contracts or pension funds
  • Investments in shares issued by the individual’s employer
  • Loans used to finance real estate acquisitions or renovations
  • Security investments to protect private houses from fire and theft
  • Interest on loans for financing the purchase, construction or renovation of privately owned real estate (subject to certain limits)
  • The purchase of service vouchers, up to a maximum purchase of EUR1,400 per person (2016 income year)
  • Child care expenses for children up to the age of 12 (limited to EUR11.20 per child, per day)
  • Charitable contributions to qualifying charities

Several other tax reductions are available, depending on the taxpayer’s family situation and the type of professional income (pensions, pre-pensions for early retirees, unemployment income and disability or sickness reimbursement).

Rates. The following are the tax rates for the 2016 income year (2017 tax year).

 

Taxable income Rate on excess
Exceeding (EUR) Not exceeding (EUR) %
0 10,860* 25
10860* 12470 30
12470 20780 40
20780 38080 45
38080 __________________ 50

* This bracket applies to the amounts exceeding the taxpayer’s tax-free amount (see Personal allowances).

All tax amounts are increased by the applicable municipal (com­mune) taxes, which are imposed at rates of up to 9% (2016 income year). The municipal tax is calculated on the amount of income tax due.

For nonresidents, the final tax due is computed in the same man­ner as for Belgian residents, with personal allowances being allowed if nonresidents earn at least 75% of their total profes­sional income in Belgium. No municipal tax is due, but an addi­tional federal tax at a flat rate of 7% on the amount of the indi­vidual’s income tax is payable.

The professional income of a husband and wife is taxed sepa­rately. If only one spouse receives earned income, 30% of this income (limited to a maximum annual amount of EUR10,290 for the 2016 income year) is attributed to the non-earning spouse and is taxable to such spouse at the (lower) progressive rates. If the earned income of the secondary wage-earning spouse is less than the maximum attributable amount, additional income from the primary wage earner is attributed to the second spouse to the extent of the difference.

The following types of income are subject to special tax rates:

  • Severance payments are taxed at the average rate applicable in the last year of normal professional activity, taking into account the municipal tax (not for directors).
  • Anticipated Belgian holiday pay is taxed at the average rate applicable to all income in the year of payment, taking into account the municipal tax.
  • The capital accrued under life or group insurance contracts and lump-sum amounts paid instead of pensions are taxed at a rate of 8% or 16.5%, increased by the municipal tax. Tax increases may apply in the case of retirement before the age of 65 or in the case of a career of less than 45 years.
  • Miscellaneous income from occasional benefits (including certain capital gains, prizes and subsidies) is taxed at a rate of 16.5% or 33%, depending on the nature of the income (the rates are increased by the municipal tax).
  • Copyright income, up to a ceiling of EUR57,270 (net amount for the 2016 income year after standard or itemized deduc­tions), is taxed at a rate of 15% (the excess is subject to the regular progressive tax rates).

The above flat rates apply to the special items unless it is more favorable to include the income with other income taxable at the regular progressive rates.

Withholding tax. Dividends are subject to withholding tax at a rate of 27%.

Belgian-source interest is generally subject to a 27% withholding tax. Interest on regulated savings accounts in excess of the tax-exempt amount is subject to a 15% withholding tax.

Royalties are subject to withholding tax at a rate of 15% if the underlying contract was concluded on or after 1 March 1990. Royalties paid on contracts concluded before that date are subject to withholding tax at a rate of 25%.

Employment income and directors’ fees are subject to a payroll tax at source by the employer. This withholding tax is creditable against the final income tax liability and any excess income tax withheld is refundable to the employee or director.

A tax on immovable property is levied on all real estate property located in Belgium. The rate of this withholding tax ranges from 1.25% to 2.5%, depending on the region where the property is located. The tax is levied on the deemed rental income of the property. The basic tax is increased by a local surcharge, depend­ing on the municipality where the property is located.

Relief for losses. Losses with respect to earned income may be offset against other earned income and may be carried forward indefinitely. No carrybacks are allowed. Professional losses may not be deducted from other types of income.

Other taxes

Net worth tax. No net worth tax is imposed in Belgium.

Inheritance and gift taxes. The inheritance tax rate system in Belgium varies depending on the region of residence of the de ceased. Substantial differences exist between the rates applied by each region. Special rules apply with respect to the transfer of a family-owned business and to the transfer of a family home to a surviving spouse, legal cohabitant or other cohabitant (except in direct line). Readers should obtain up-to-date information regard ing these rules.

Under existing law, the estate of a deceased resident consists of the resident’s worldwide assets. Belgian jurisdiction over estates of deceased nonresidents is limited to the nonresidents’ real estate located in Belgium. The definition of resident for inheri­tance tax purposes may differ from the definition used for income tax purposes. Nonresident status for purposes of the special expatriate tax regime (see Section A) does not automati­cally apply for inheritance tax purposes.

Inheritance taxes and gift taxes on donations of immovable prop­erty are levied according to sliding scales, depending on the ben­eficiary’s relationship to the deceased or donor.

However, preferential flat rates apply to gifts of movable property.

Belgium has entered into estate tax treaties to prevent double estate taxation with France and Sweden.

Transfer duties. Transfer duties, whether registration duties or inheritance taxes, apply only to the extent an effective transfer of assets occurs under Belgian matrimonial or inheritance laws. On the death of a spouse, the transfer of assets to the surviving spouse resulting from the dissolution of the marital community is not subject to succession duties. Consequently, inheritance taxes apply only to the portion of the property that was actually owned by the deceased spouse.

Social security

Contributions. Social security contributions are generally com­pulsory for individuals working in Belgium. For 2016, the employ­ee’s social security contributions equal 13.07%. This rate applies to the monthly gross compensation without a ceiling. The employer’s social security contributions are levied at a basic rate of 24.92% of gross monthly compensation, with no ceiling. On top of this basic rate, several specific contributions are due from the employer; some contributions vary based on certain parame­ters and may be industry or sector specific. Some reductions are available, depending on various eligibility criteria. This results in an average actual rate of 32%. These percentages apply to white-collar workers in the private sector.

No social security contributions are due on the benefit resulting from the personal use of a company car. However, an employer contribution based on the company car’s carbon dioxide emission level is applied.

Different rates apply to self-employment activities, including activities of directors. For the 2016 income year, social security contributions are levied at a rate of 22% on net income up to EUR55,576.94 and at a rate of 14.16% on income between EUR55,576.94 and EUR81,902.81. Income in excess of EUR81,902.81 is not subject to social security contributions. The annual maximum contribution for self-employment activities is EUR15,954.68 (increased by 3% to 5% for administration fees for the social insurance fund).

Mandatory social security contributions are deductible for income tax purposes.

An individual who is liable to Belgian social security contribu­tions is also required to make a special social security contribu­tion. For the 2016 income year, the maximum amount of this contribution is EUR731.28. The special social security contribu­tion is not deductible for income tax purposes.

Coverage. An employee who pays Belgian social security is enti­tled to benefits, including health insurance, disability insurance, occupational insurance, unemployment allowances, family allow­ances, and retirement and survivor’s benefits.

Totalization agreements. To prevent double social security liabil­ity and to assure benefit coverage in situations of cross-border employment, Belgium has entered into agreements with several countries.

As a member state of the EU, Belgium applies EU Regulation 883/2004 (and the amendments made to the regulation by EU Regulation 465/2012 of 22 May 2012), which entered into force on 1 May 2010 and replaced EU Regulation 1408/71. Regulation 1408/71 continues to apply for a maximum of 10 years to all cross-border situations existing before 1 May 2010 in which Regulation 883 alters the relevant state if the individual does not opt into coverage of the new regulation and if a material change in circumstances does not occur. Following the adoption of EU Regulation 883/2004 by Switzerland and the other three European Free Trade Association (EFTA) countries (Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway) in 2012, Regulation 883/2004 also applies with respect to the EFTA countries. For posted workers, Regulation 883/2004 extends the home-country standard coverage from 12 months to 2 years (in general, the Belgian social security admin­istration accepts a further extension to 5 years).

Belgium has also entered into social security totalization agree­ments with Algeria, Australia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Congo (Democratic Republic of), India, Israel, Japan, Korea (South), Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro, Morocco, the Philippines, Quebec, San Marino, Serbia, Switzerland, Tunisia, Turkey, the United States and Uruguay. Belgium has signed a totalization agreement with Argentina, which has not yet entered into force. Under most agreements, the Belgian social security administration accepts an extension of the home-country standard coverage of up to five years. However, the agreement with the United States exempts employees work­ing in Belgium from Belgian social security taxes for a period of up to seven years in exceptional circumstances.

Tax filing and payment procedures

Individuals must file annual tax returns reporting income received during the preceding calendar year, which is the income year. The year of filing is considered the tax year. The tax return must be completed, dated, signed and returned to the tax authori­ties by the date indicated on the return, unless the taxpayer obtains an extension. The official filing date is 30 June, but the date is sometimes extended for resident individuals and is generally extended for nonresident individuals.

After filing, but no later than 30 June of the following year, a tax assessment or refund notice is issued. Within two months after the receipt of this assessment, the amount of tax due must be paid to the tax authorities. Any refund owed is paid within the same two-month period.

Double tax relief and tax treaties

Income derived by Belgian residents from a business activity performed in non-treaty countries is taxable at half the normal rate, to the extent that the income is subject to standard taxa­tion abroad. Double tax treaties entered into by Belgium with other countries provide for the abolishment of double taxation on such income of Belgium residents through the exemption­with-progression method. Foreign-source income is exempt from tax in Belgium, but other taxable income is taxed at the rate that would apply to all taxable income if the foreign-source income were included in taxable income.

Belgium has entered into double tax treaties with the following jurisdictions.

Albania                          Ghana                          Pakistan

Algeria                           Greece                          Philippines

Argentina                       Hong Kong SAR         Poland

Armenia (b)                   Hungary                       Portugal

Australia                        Iceland                         Romania

Austria                           India                             Russian

Azerbaijan (b)                Indonesia                     Federation

Bahrain                          Ireland                          Rwanda

Bangladesh                    Israel                            San Marino

Belarus                          Italy                              Senegal

Bosnia and                     Japan                            Serbia (c)

Herzegovina (c)             Kazakhstan                   Singapore

Brazil                             Korea (South)              Slovak Republic

Bulgaria                         Kosovo (c)                   Slovenia

Canada                           Kuwait                         South Africa

Chile                              Kyrgyzstan (b)             Spain

China (a)                        Latvia                           Sri Lanka

Congo                            Lithuania                      Sweden

(Democratic                   Luxembourg                Switzerland

Republic of)                   Macedonia (c)              Tajikistan (b)

Côte d’Ivoire                 Malaysia                      Thailand

Croatia                           Malta                            Tunisia

Cyprus                           Mauritius                     Turkmenistan (b)

Czech Republic              Mexico                         Turkey

Denmark                        Moldova (b)                 Ukraine

Ecuador                         Mongolia                     United Arab

Egypt                             Montenegro (c)            Emirates

Estonia                           Morocco                      United Kingdom

Finland                          Netherlands                  United States

France                            New Zealand                Uzbekistan

Gabon                            Nigeria                         Venezuela

Georgia                          Norway                        Vietnam

Germany

a) The treaty does not apply to the Hong Kong SAR.

b) Belgium is honoring the USSR treaty with respect to the republics comprising the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), except for those members of the CIS with which Belgium has entered into tax treaties.

c) Belgium is honoring the Yugoslavia treaty with respect to Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia.

Belgium has entered into an agreement dealing with double taxa­tion with Taiwan. This treaty is not considered an international treaty because Belgium has not recognized Taiwan as a state.

Belgium has signed double tax treaties with Bahrain, the Isle of Man, the Macau SAR, Moldova, Oman, Qatar, Seychelles and Uganda, but these treaties are not yet in force.

Short stays in Belgium

Both EEA and non-EEA nationals can visit Belgium for up to 90 days (in a 6-month period for the non-EEA nationals; for both EEA and non-EEA nationals, the days in the Schengen area are taken into account) on the basis of their Schengen residence (identity) card or a passport. Whether a visa is required for a non­EEA national to enter Belgium depends on the nationality of the

individual. A Schengen Visa C is required for nationals of coun­tries listed in the European Community (EC) regulation.

Work permits and professional cards

Nationals of the EEA or Switzerland may enter Belgium without prior consent to take up or look for employment, to establish a business or to engage in self-employment.

In principle, non-EEA nationals (excluding Swiss nationals) require a work permit from the first day of their employment in Belgium. Work permits are generally restricted to highly quali­fied individuals or executives. The determination of this status is principally based on the employee’s qualifications and his or her function in the Belgian entity. A minimum annual gross salary threshold applies to highly qualified individuals and management.

In principle, the prospective employer must apply for an authori­zation to employ a foreigner before the arrival of the foreign employee in Belgium. In such circumstances, the work permit is non-transferable and is valid only for the specific employer that submits the application. The following work permits are available:

  • “A” permits have unlimited duration and may be used for any employment (the exception to the non-transferability rule).
  • “B” permits are valid for one year for all types of workers. They are renewable annually.
  • “C” permits are not linked to the employment with a particular employer and are valid for a maximum of one year, subject to re new al. They are typically granted to persons entitled to a temporary right of residence in Belgium, such as students.

Applications are submitted to the Belgian regional employment authorities. The specific documents required to be submitted as part of the application differ, depending on the type of work permit.

Under the Belgian law, the following individuals, among others, are exempt from the work permit formalities:

  • Managers serving Belgian headquarters of multinationals (local hires for an undefined period)
  • Foreigners coming to Belgium to attend business meetings not exceeding an annual threshold of 60 working days per calendar year, with a maximum of 20 consecutive calendar days (week­ends included) per visit
  • Under certain strict conditions, intragroup trainees

Holders of long stay residence status (according to European Directive 2003/109/CE) obtained in an EU member state other than Belgium can also apply for a Belgian B work permit for jobs that are listed as “bottleneck” jobs during the first 12 months of their employment in Belgium. Each region has created a list of “bottleneck” jobs. After this 12-month period, these individuals can obtain a Belgian B work permit without any specific conditions.

Non-EEA nationals (with the exception of Swiss nationals) who are self-employed must have a professional card, which is the equivalent of a work permit for employed persons. To acquire this card, applicants must file an application with the Belgian Consulate or Embassy in their last country of residence.

Access to certain professions is restricted in Belgium, and autho­rization from the competent authority is required.

The Belgian social security authorities must be notified about employees and self-employed persons assigned to Belgium or partially working in Belgium before such persons begin their activities in Belgium (this is known as the “LIMOSA notifica­tion”). Certain exemptions exist with respect to the duration or the nature of the professional activity (for example, business meetings up to 60 working days per calendar year, with a maxi­mum of 20 consecutive calendar days (weekends included) per visit). In the event of non-compliance, heavy penal sanctions apply.

Residence visas and permits

Individuals who plan to remain in Belgium beyond the 90-day visiting period must have a Belgian residency permit.

The application process differs for EEA and non-EEA nationals.

Non-EEA nationals. After the non-EEA nationals have obtained a work permit or professional card, they must in principle apply for a Visa D. The application for the Visa D must be filed with the Belgian Consulate or Embassy in the individual’s country of residence, together with the required documents.

After the Visa D application is processed and accepted by the Belgian authorities, the applicant may enter Belgium and, within one week after arrival, must register at the city hall in the city where he or she will live. At this time, the non-EEA national receives an electronic identification card, which is, in principle, valid for one year (linked to the validity of the work permit or professional card) and is renewable annually.

In certain situations, it is also possible to register with the Belgian town hall without the Visa D. However, this is not advis­able if family members accompany the employee or self-employed person.

EEA nationals. All EEA nationals intending to reside in Belgium must register as residents personally at the city hall in the city where they live or intend to live. They are not required to apply for the Visa D.

EEA nationals receive either a paper proof of registration or can apply for an electronic identification card.

Single Permit

The EU Single Permit Directive 2011/98/EU, which should have been incorporated into Belgium national law by 23 December 2013, will be incorporated into such law in 2016 or 2017.

At the time of writing, the authorities had not yet finalized the text of the legislation.

Family considerations

Spouses and children of non-EEA nationals who hold a work permit or professional card may reside in Belgium if they meet all entrance requirements of the Belgian authorities.

Families must be registered within one week after their arrival in Belgium at the city hall in the city where they will live. The fam­ily is issued an electronic identification card.

The spouse of a non-EEA national may work in Belgium if he or she obtains a work permit, or a professional card if self-employed. However, a work permit or professional card is not required for a non-EEA national married to (or legally cohabiting with [for work permit only]) an EU national if such persons settle together in Belgium and if the spouse registers at the town hall on the basis of the marriage and obtains a Belgian identification card.