Working abroad: finding work as a labor migrant - part 2

What to arrange before coming to Belgium for a job

Door Arleta Drab

You’ve decided to come to Belgium for work. Yay! Now you have to go through certain formalities before traveling to Belgium. If you’re from another European country, we’ve done most of the research for you. Follow this checklist and you should be good to go in no-time.

1. Identification, travel visas and work permits
As a citizen of the European Union, you do not require a visa to enter Belgium, as you should be in possession of a valid passport or identity card as issued by your home country. With your identification you can enter Belgium and stay for up to 90 days. However, within the 10 first days you should report your stay in the city hall of the city or place you’re staying in. If you fail to do so, you can expect being fined (for a staggering 200 EUR none the less!). This rule does not apply to tourists staying in hotels.

If you live outside of the European Union you do require a visa to enter Belgium. In some cases, a working permit is also required. In that case you will need several permits (depending on whether you wish to acquire self-employed status or employee status). These formalities are not always mandatory. It depends on what country you’re from.

2. Insurance
Luckily, insurance policies from other EU countries are valid in Belgium. However, if you at some point apply for unemployment benefits, you automatically become a member of Belgium’s Health Insurance Fund (Ziekenfonds), also called Mutualiteit. This counts for all people above 25 years of age. Children under the age of 25 are insured via the an older family member that uses the insurance.

„As a foreigner it is much more difficult to rent a place to stay. Lack of employment may be a contributing factor, as can having a dog or a prejudice against newcomers.”

3. A place to stay
We’re not going to make it any prettier than it is: as a foreigner it is much more difficult to rent an apartment or a house. Contributing factors may be lack of employment, having a pet or even prejudice against newcomers. Renting a room in a hotel / hostel or finding accommodation with someone you know might be a quicker way to have a roof over your head.

4. A means of transport
You should consider some things before you can cruise the Belgian roads. Not only because these roads are not known for their smooth handling, but also because you should have some documents in order, these being:
- a valid driving license (rijbewijs)
- a valid identity card (identiteitskaart)
- car insurance card (verzekeringsbewijs)
- technical inspection certificate (keuringsbewijs)
- car registration document (inschrijvingsbewijs)

5. Some communicative skills
Most Belgians speak good English, so if you speak English you’ll be fine during your stay. Traveling to Walloon in the South part of Belgium? Then best brush up on your French. If you’re considering making your stay permanent then learning some Dutch here and there would be highly appreciated.

But rest assured, even if you speak no other language than your mother tongue and some English here and there, you can still find work. Most jobs for temporary workers only require English on a communicative level. Find one that’s perfect for your skills here.