What to know when moving to Belgium

Expert tips for expats in Belgium

You’ll have discovered by now that there is plenty of things to sort out before moving to Belgium, and it can be easy to miss out a few important parts. If you’re moving to Belgium for work purposes, it’s possible that your employer will get you a relocation agent to take care of the entire move. Regardless of that, it’s a great idea to familiarise yourself with this moving checklist to make sure you arrive in Belgium prepared.

Papers and stamps

Moving to Belgium as a national of the European Union (EU) is pretty simple. There’s no visa necessary, no matter how long you’re staying for - but you will need to get a Belgian residence permit if you’re staying for longer than 3 months.

For everyone else (i.e. non-EU nationals), you’ll need to get the relevant visa stamped in your passport before you arrive in Belgium, and register with your local commune within 8 days after moving. You can find more information about these processes in our short guide, or contact the Belgian Immigration Office  directly.

A roof over your head

It’s a good idea to start figuring out your accommodation options before leaving for Belgium. If you know the kind of thing you are looking for, you can see what’s available on our Belgian Housing portal. If you’re looking for expert advice, there are plenty of rental agents who will search for your perfect flat or house based on your needs. No matter your housing needs, you’ll find everything in our Belgian Housing & Rentals section.

A typical ‘short-term’ lease in Belgium is for nine years. While shorter, 3-year options do exist, it is the longer option that usually offers more flexibility. Regardless, make sure your letting agent knows how long you’re planning to stay if, using one.

If you’ve not found a place by the time you arrive in Belgium and don’t want to stay in a hotel, serviced apartments known as ‘aparthotels’ are available. They offer the short-term availability and services of a hotel while giving you the freedom of an apartment.

Opening a bank account in Belgium

With finance a major industry in Belgium, there are plenty of banks to choose from when opening an account. As an expat it’s worth considering what services are available that are going to make your move to Belgium easier.

ING offers the convenience of being able to open your bank account before you arrive in Belgium , with your account and bank cards ready when you get there. They also offer other expat services like rental guarantees and home insurance, making it simpler to sort out all your financial affairs in Belgium.

Staying protected

All expats living and working in Belgium have to make contributions to a health insurance fund of their choice . It’s important to know that when you first enrol in a health fund, you won’t be able to claim benefits for the first 6 months, so having alternative cover for this period is strongly recommended. If you’re an EU national, the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) should be enough.

The 6-month waiting period is waived if you’ve been covered by another state healthcare plan in the EU for at least 6 months before arriving in Belgium.

How to enjoy yourself

Once all the important stuff is out of the way, the next step is getting the most out of your stay in Belgium. Discover the culture, from chocolate, museums and the ‘9th Art’ of Belgian comics including Tintin and the Smurfs.

Good luck, and have fun!

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