Joining the social security system in Belgium is bureaucratic, but not difficult. Here is a brief guide to Belgian social security and your state benefits.
If you’re living and working in Belgium, you will be subject to pay social security in exchange for Belgian welfare benefits. Find out how to register for Belgian social security, how much Belgian social security you have to pay and what benefits you get in return.
Social security in Belgium
There are separate rules and separate institutions for the salaried, the self-employed and civil servants. If you are employed, your employer will likely take care of the formalities and deduct contributions from your wages. The salaried are covered for seven sectors:
For the employed, typically your employer will pay around 25 percent on top of your salary into a social security fund, and you’ll contribute an extra 13 percent from your salary. Read more about Belgian taxes.
Self-employed individuals can also claim social security. They pay a lower total percentage than salaried persons, though less sectors are covered by the fund. However, self-employed individuals can pay more to cover themselves further. The National Institute of Social Security for the Self-Employed (RSVZ-INASTI) is the association in charge, and covers benefits for medical care, incapacity for work or invalidity, maternity insurance, family benefits, pensions and bankruptcy.
Self-employed workers pay quarterly contributions towards their social security, which can range from a maximum of 22 percent of income and downward as earnings increase. Since 2008, self-employed persons have also been included for coverage of petits risques/kleine risico’s. This means that claims can be made for doctor appointments, dentists and prescriptions in the same way as for salaried workers and civil servants. Read more about Belgian taxes and social security for self-employed workers.
With regards to civil servants, the rules differ as social security can be claimed through the relevant governmental department.
Additional support systems available in certain circumstances are financed from government funds. These provide for pensions, unemployment benefits and family benefits.
You can visit www.socialsecurity.fgov.be for a brochure detailing everything you have always wanted to know about social security. This brochure tells you about the structure of the system and your entitlements.
Registering for Belgian social security
To get social benefits, you will need to sign up with one of a number of specialised organisations or a health insurance company (mutuelle/mutualiteits), which act as collection agencies for the national social security offices. Once you are registered, they will send you a Social Security Identity Card (SIS) – to be phased out in favour of your Belgian eID or ISI+ card – which is needed to get prescription drugs and other medical services. More detail can be found in this guide’s Healthcare section.
International co-operation: Social security for internationals
Belgium has reciprocal social security arrangements with countries in the European Economic Area (European Union plus Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway) and Switzerland, as well as 22 non-EU countries, including Australia, Canada and the US. Under these arrangements, you can claim and be awarded many of the same benefits as Belgian citizens, provided you carry out the necessary paperwork (ie. registering with your town hall or getting your residence visa, if applicable). Visit www.coming2belgium.be for information in several languages.
Anyone posted to Belgium short-term is unaffected by Belgian social security as long as they are an EEA or Swiss national, or from a country that has an international social security treaty with Belgium. Ask the authority or social security office in your country for details.
Social security contacts
The social security offices are semi-autonomous ‘parastatal’ institutions, under the administrative control of the Federal Public Service of Social Security. The salaried should contact RSZ-ONSS, the national social security office, and the self-employed can get more information from RSVZ-INASTI, the national institute for social insurance of the self-employed. EEA/Swiss nationals can get more information from the Overseas Social Security Office (DOSZ-OSSOM).
National Office for Social Security (RSZ-ONSS)
02 509 3111 | www.onssrszlss.fgov.be
Place Victor Horta 11, 1060 Brussels
National Institute of Social Security for the self-employed (RSVZ-INASTI)
02 546 4211 | www.inasti.be
Place Jan Jacobs 6, 1000 Brussels
Overseas Social Security Office (DOSZ-OSSOM)
02 642 0511 | www.ossom.be
Avenue Louise 194B, 1050 Brussels