Work in Belgium for foreign nationals

First of all, it is essential to know that :



EU citizens who are admitted for residence can work in Belgium without special authorisation.



For non-EU citizens, the right to residence, the issue of a residence permit, does not automatically entail the right to work in Belgium.



In principleIf you are a foreign national and wish to provide work services in Belgium, you must obtain prior authorisation from the competent authority. An employee is subject to a work permit, while a self-employed person must apply for a professional card.


To these principles, however, there are other numerous exceptions or special implementing arrangementsThis will depend, among other things, on the labour market, international conventions, the planned activity, the duration of the activity and the residence of the foreign worker concerned.


The matter is therefore very complex, and to enable you to situate yourself precisely according to your personal situation, it is worth consulting the excellent Practical Guide published on the ADDE website.


In a very brief and schematic way, the different cases are as follows:


Foreigners allowed to stay indefinitely The list of workers exempted from the obligation to obtain a work permit is very long and complex, but in summary and with certain nuances, foreigners authorised to reside in Belgium for an unlimited period of time are authorised to work in Belgium as soon as they obtain their residence permit without additional formalities, as well as certain categories of workers described restrictively in the law: these are very specific occupations for which it would be tedious to reproduce here the very long list, which can be consulted on : (


Other foreigners authorised to stay (There are three categories of work permits for persons working in a subordinate capacity (salaried work):


–       The A licenceThis is an unlimited period of time and is valid for all salaried occupations, reserved for workers who can prove that they have worked for several years under a B work permit in Belgium;

–       The B licenceThe permit, which is for a fixed period of twelve months and is limited to employment with a single employer, is in principle only granted "if it is not possible to find a worker among the workers on the labour market who is capable of satisfactorily taking up the job in question within a reasonable period of time, even by means of adequate vocational training". It is only issued if a specific employer applies for and obtains an authorisation to occupy the worker; 

–          The C permitThe permit, which is limited in time and valid for all employed professions, is granted to specific categories of foreigners on the basis of their residence.

Applications must be made to the competent regional authorities, depending on the worker's place of employment.


For the self-employed Foreigners who are admitted for residence and who wish to carry out an independent professional activity of economic, social, cultural, artistic or sporting interest for Belgium are likely to be issued a professional card, after examination of their application by the Federal Public Service for the Economy, Small and Medium-sized Businesses, SMEs and Energy. 


Skip to content