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Moving to Belgium for work: what you need to know

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Moving to Belgium for work? While the career opportunity offered may seem attractive to you, organizing your international relocation can become tricky. Be reassured, you’ll find out that the European country has many advantages for expats to offer. With a booming biotech and life sciences ecosystem, Belgium is attracting more and more highly skilled workers, investors and entrepreneurs.

Whether you’re in the recruitment process of your future job or got your new position confirmed, we’ve put together these top tips together with useful links to make your relocation to Belgium easier.

Top things to know before moving to Belgium for work

Relocation services: contacting a relocation agency might be the first step to a stress-free move to Belgium. Expats in Brussels has put together a comprehensive directory of relocation agencies with useful information on how to select your agency.

Job opportunities: References.be is one of the most used websites for job listings. If you’re looking for a job in the industrial and life sciences sectors (biotech, pharmaceuticals, e-health, medical devices, etc.), PaHRtners is the Belgian specialist. See our latest job offers here.

Visa and admin: before moving to Belgium, you should go through certain formalities. Depending on your country of origin, some visa may not be necessary. Official Belgium.be portal provides help on all necessary formalities, work permit, self-employment, social security and taxes.

Social security: your social security entitlements (such as family allowance, pensions, reimbursement of medical costs and work incapacity allowance) depend on agreements, if any, signed between Belgium and your country as well as on European legislation. Entitlements also depend on your personal situation and vary according to your nationality and employment status. You can use Coming2belgium, a special online tool developed by the social security institutions, to find out what you are entitled to under the Belgian social security system. (source: Belgium.be)

Health insurance: expats living in Belgium will find a large network of public and private healthcare facilities available. How to find the right insurance policy for you and your family? Is it usually paid by your employer? The healthcare in Belgium guide from Expatica explains how to access healthcare for expats, including getting health insurance as well as using services.

Gross and net salary: when you negotiate your salary during your job interview, keep in mind that it will always be in gross. We recommend you use a gross-net salary simulator to calculate your wage from gross to net. The two most important deductions are the social contributions and income tax (deducted “at source” each month from your salary). It may vary a lot!

Annual leave and working time: in Belgium, full-time employees are usually entitled to four weeks’ leave per year. This leave gives entitlement to holiday pay. In addition, collective labour agreements may provide for extra holidays.

Working must not exceed 8 hours per day or 38 hours per week. Find more detailed information on working time and rest periods on FPS Employment, Labour and Social Dialogue.

National public holidays: 1 January (New Year’s Day), Easter Monday, 1 May (Labour Day), Ascension (6th Thursday after Easter), Whit Monday (7th Monday after Easter), 21 July (National Day), 15 August (Assumption), 1 November (All Saints’ Day), 11 November (Armistice Day), 25 December (Christmas Day).

Languages: Depending on which region you end up moving to, you will hear Dutch, German, or French, the three official languages. If you settle in Belgium’s southern parts (Wallonia), French is the official language spoken by most of the population. In Brussels, you will be most likely hearing French in the streets, but Dutch remains the country’s majority language. As the one of the capitals of Europe, you will notice that English is also frequently used around Brussels, even on official websites.

Regions and politics: it’s complicated… Sometimes a video is worth a thousand words!

Where to live: depending on your job location, your family requirements and your desire to live in the city or in the countryside, Belgium is a small country that make great homes for expats. If you choose to live in the capital, Ixelles and Saint-Gilles are popular with the expatriate community for their vibrant neighborhood, while Uccle has many parks and stylish villas to offer. Etterbeek is also a good choice for the proximity with European institutions. Wherever you decide to live, Immoweb is the go-to website for property listings in Belgium.

Expat partner: because the wellbeing of the partner is an important part for expat integration, don’t hesitate to ask your company or HR consultancy for help, some organizations may propose support with their career and integration needs.

We hope that this article was useful to give you a headstart on what you need to know before relocating to Belgium. As a Belgian consultancy firm specialized in human resources, our specialty is to deliver guidance to growing organizations on their HR challenges: recruitment and selection, skills assessment and HR strategy.

When we recruit international candidates, we support them with tips and advice to guide them through their next career move.

Find your next job on our website and follow our updates on LinkedIn.

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