Options to move to the country and obtain a work permit vary and depend on the status of the founder (EU or non-EU citizen). Below you can find the most generic ways of settling for work in Belgium.
The professional card
> As a general rule, foreign workers wishing to pursue a self-employed activity in Belgium must be in possession of a professional card, in other words, the authorisation of the Federal Public Service Economy, SMEs, Self-Employed and Energy (SPF Economy) to pursue self-employed activities in Belgium.
‘Self-employed activity’ means activity which is not subject to the regulation on the employment of foreign workers. To find out more, click here.
> The application for a professional card is made to the Belgian consulate competent for the worker’s place of stay or residence abroad, which passes it on to the SPF Economy.
Where the authorisation to pursue a self-employed activity in Belgium is granted, the consulate and the worker are notified by the SPF Economy.
After receiving the decision from the SPF Economy, the worker must return to the consulate to lodge an application for a provisional residence permit (D visa).
Once in Belgium, he goes to collect his professional card from the enterprise counter given on the application form for a professional card.
Consult the website for any information on the professional card (arrangements for applying for the professional card, exemptions from the obligation to hold a professional card, etc.).
Authorisation to stay for more than 3 months in Belgium
If you wish to stay for more than 3 months in Belgium, you must first receive authorisation from the minister competent for entry, stay, settlement and removal of foreign nationals, or his delegate (Aliens Office).
Work permit B
As a general rule, a foreign worker wishing to provide services in Belgium in the framework of a work contract may be admitted to work by his employer only after obtaining a work permit, regardless of the duration of the employment.
There are three types of work permit:
a) Work permit A:
This permit is valid for all salaried professions and has an unlimited duration. It is granted to a foreign worker who can prove, over a maximum period of 10 years of legal, uninterrupted residence immediately prior to the application, 4 years of work covered by a work permit B.
b) Work permit B:
This permit is limited to employment with a single employer and is valid for a maximum of 12 months. It is granted only if the employer first obtains the authorisation to employ the foreign worker.
c) Work permit C:
This permit is valid for all salaried professions and has a limited duration. It is granted to certain categories of foreign nationals authorised to remain in Belgium for a limited duration or on an insecure basis (e.g. students, asylum seekers, etc.).
The final thing to do before you can kick off your new career in Flanders is to register on LIMOSA – the central electronic database of the Belgian social security system. Have a nice work day!
Read more here.