EU, EEA and Swiss citizens have the right to live and work in Belgium but must fulfil certain requirements if staying longer than three months.
Citizens of the European Union (EU), European Economic Area (EEA – EU plus Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway) and Switzerland can travel freely to Belgium using their national ID card or their passport. EU/EEA and Swiss citizens do not require a Belgian visa and have the right to stay in Belgium for a maximum period of three months, provided they register their presence in Belgium after arrival.
If you envisage staying longer than three months, however, you must register with the Belgian authorities and provide evidence that you can support yourself financially and have adequate health insurance. You need to complete this process to put yourself in the population register and acquire a foreigner’s identity card.
When you arrive in Belgium
Notification of presence: if you are staying less than three months
Although EU/EEA/Swiss nationals do not need a Belgian permit to live, work or study in Belgium for stays of less than three months, they do need to register their presence in Belgium.
In principle, EU/EEA/Swiss citizens – and accompanying family members, such as legally registered partners, spouses and dependents – will need to go to the local town hall (maison communale/gemeentehuis) to report their presence to the authorities within 10 days of arrival in Belgium. This obligation only applies when you stay in private accommodation, thus it is not obligatory when you are staying in a hotel or have been admitted to a hospital. To find your nearest town hall is, see here for a list of communes.
You’ll need to show your passport or ID and you’ll be given a document called a ‘declaration of arrival’ (annex 3ter), which allows you to stay on Belgian territory for up to three months.
Staying in Belgium more than three months
If you envisage staying in Belgium for more than three months, you must register at your local town hall (maison communale/gemeentehuis) within three months after your arrival.
Depending on your status (worker, family member, financially supported resident, such as a retiree), you will be asked to submit additional documents to support your residency application. The town hall will forward your application to the Belgian Immigration Office. The federal authorities will make a decision on your application within a maximum period of six months. While your application is pending, you are entitled to reside in Belgium.
These documents, among other, may include:
- your passport/national ID card;
- three passport photos;
- evidence you can support yourself financially (eg. a letter from an employer confirming your position and salary, bank statements etc.);
- proof of adequate housing;
- evidence that you have adequate healthcare insurance;
- evidence of your relationship, if appropriate (eg. birth or marriage certificate).
Foreigner’s ID card
If a positive decision is made by the immigration office, you will receive an annex 8, which acts as proof of your registration in the Belgian national registry. You may also request an electronic ID card (type E) but this is not obligatory – a fee will apply. These cards are not residence permits but serve as ID cards and proof that you’re registered as a resident, and are valid for five years.
Following this process, you have the right to unlimited stay in Belgium, which is conditional during the initial five years.
Working in Belgium
EU/EEA/Swiss nationals can work without the need for a Belgian work permit.
After five years of continuous residence in Belgium
After five years of legal and continuous residence in Belgium, EU/EEA and Swiss citizens automatically acquire the right to permanent residence in Belgium (residence card E+). Read more in our guide to permanent residence in Belgium.
Getting Belgian citizenship
EU/EEA and Swiss citizens can opt to acquire Belgian citizenship after five or 10 years of residence, depending on a number of circumstances. Read more in our guide to Belgian citizenship.
- Belgium Foreigner’s Office
- eID: information on Belgium’s electronic identity card
- Europa: information for European Union citizens
- New in Town: government initiative website for newcomers (French and Dutch)
- Crossroads Migration Integration: details on all aspects related to immigration (in Dutch)
- The Association for the Rights of Foreigners: factsheets on immigration (in French)